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David Pearson (computer scientist)

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David Pearson

David Pearson is a British physicist and computer scientist. He has first-class degrees in physics and theoretical physics from London University, Imperial College of Science and Technology, Royal College of Science and in computer science from the University of Cambridge, where he did his PhD postgraduate research in computational fluid dynamics and the resolution of time-based three-dimensional matrices of second-order partial differential equation sets, on the Ferranti Atlas and English Electric KDF9 in collaboration with the Met Office. This work was designed to model accurate weather forecasts in a shorter time than hitherto on the world’s most powerful computers.

He was the first of his family to attend university. Whilst still at university, he also performed early work for British Steel in the use of very high frequency oscillators in the measurement of surface roughness in a continuous strip steel rolling mill in order to enable high quality continuous enameling. He is an Associate of the Royal College of Science.

He joined International Computers Limited in 1968 and became Head of Software Engineering.In 1977 he joined Bell-Northern Research in Ottawa and Palo Alto California and became Director of Advanced Development.

In 1981 he joined the ranks of the early-80s hitech entrepreneurs and became the co-founder and President of Orcatech, one of the world's first intelligent graphics workstation companies which he took public on the TSX. Later he joined a European venture capital consortium to strengthen some of their young investments. He then went on to become the founding Chief Executive of the Strathclyde Institute in Glasgow, Scotland, Senior Director of Scottish Enterprise and Chief Executive for the economic development agency for Norfolk and Waveney. Before moving back to Canada, he spent three years as Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Industrial Society, later to become the Work Foundation think tank. He has Canadian and British citizenships.


In designing the initial architecture of the CADES environment, Pearson looked to parallels with the leading hardware computer-aided design systems of the time, even attempting the use of graphics in the design process.[1][2] CADES was one of the first effective software engineering environments to be used for the development of large-scale software.[3][4][5] After 30 years, the system was still in use by Fujitsu to maintain the ICL operating system.

Bell-Northern Research Laboratories[edit]

At the end of 1977, Pearson moved to Bell-Northern Research Laboratories in Ottawa, Canada, and became Director of the laboratory's Advanced Development teams in Palo Alto, Raleigh NC and Ottawa. Whilst at BNR his primary focus was on leading research programmes working on heuristic design and development technologies for Northern Telecom digital communications products.[6][7][8]

His key research programmes included artificial intelligence techniques applied to dense electronic designs, a virtual graphics machine global standard, software engineering techniques for high-performance Digital Multiplex System products, and computer-aided design strategies for locally intelligent products.

During this time he was a science and technology adviser to the Canadian government and served as a member of the Science and Engineering Research Council for Canada.

Orcatech Inc[edit]

In 1981, with a small number of BNR colleagues, Pearson left to found Orcatech Inc.[9] one of the first companies specialising in the design and development of raster-based high resolution intelligent graphics workstations for the computer-aided engineering market.[10] In the early 1980s, the availability of bit-slice and 16-bit microprocessors started to revolutionise personal computing and high resolution computer graphics terminals which now increasingly became intelligent, semi-standalone and standalone workstations. Graphics and application processing were increasingly migrated to the intelligence in the workstation or PC rather than continuing to rely on central mainframe and mini-computers. Pearson and his colleagues recognized the opportunity these microprocessors offered to graphics technology over the old technologies of storage tube and refresh vector graphics arrangements [11] Orcatech was at the leading edge of what is now recognized as modern high resolution computer graphics. The Orca 3000 was based on Motorola 68000 and AMD bit-slice processors and had Unix as its operating system. It was targeted squarely at the sophisticated end of the design engineering sector and included General Motors, Nortel, Douglas Cardinal, architect, Boeing and Lockheed as clients [12]

The Strathclyde Institute[edit]

In 1986 Pearson moved back to the UK to become the first Chief Executive of the Strathclyde Institute, a research and consultancy company focusing on computer-based design and manufacturing systems and based in Glasgow, Scotland.[13][14] In establishing the Institute, Pearson's partners were the University of Strathclyde, the Scottish Development Agency, Hewlett Packard, Group Bull and Honeywell. During his six years as Chief Executive, the Institute advised some of the world’s leading companies in the computer-based production of computers, jet engine manufacture, automotive assembly, food and beverage processing, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. He was also the author of one of the definitive guides to Computer Integrated Manufacturing, published by the Financial Times.[15] Concurrently, Pearson was also Professor in Management at Strathclyde University in Glasgow and a government adviser on company startup policy, seed funding.


  1. D.J.Pearson "CADES - Computer-aided development and evaluation system" Computer Weekly, 1973
  2. D.J.Pearson and B.C.Warboys "Structural Modelling - A Philosophy" OSTC/IN/40 July 1970
  3. G.D.Pratten and R.A.Snowden "CADES, support for the development of complex software" EUROCOMP,1976
  4. M.A.Firth and Others "Improving a software development environment using object-oriented technology" TOOLS (8), 1992
  5. B.W.Chatters, M.M.Lehman and Others "Modelling a software evolution process" Software Process: Improvement and Practice, September 2000
  6. D.J.Pearson "The use and abuse of a software engineering system" National Computer Conference 1979
  7. Don Leavitt "Development method review held useful" Computerworld June 1979
  8. A.Bobas and J.Valahora "A design automation system for printed circuit board assemblies" Proceedings of the 14th Design Automation Conference, 1977
  9. "ORCATECH INC. · 99 Metcalfe Street, Ottawa, ON K1P 6L7".
  10. David Thomas "Knights of the New Technology: The Inside Story of Canada's Computer Elite" Longmans 1983
  11. “Foreign Graphics Products Debut in the US” Computerworld June 21, 1982
  12. ”Graphics Systems,Orcatech 3000” Computerworld May 21, 1984
  13. "CIM Institute at Strathclyde" Electronics and Power, Vol 33 Issue 5 May 1987
  14. "Institute for Computer Integrated Manufacture" University of Strathclyde Archives 2012
  15. David Pearson "Computer Integrated Manufacturing for the Engineering Industry" Financial Times Business Information Books Ltd., 1990

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