Donald Michie, robotics and code-breaking pioneer, dies


Donald Michie, robotics and code-breaking pioneer, dies

Chris Hipwell

Donald Michie, Bletchley Park code-breaker and a pioneer of artificial intelligence and robotics, died in a car accident on 7 July.

At Bletchley Park, the 20-year-old Michie conceived an idea for programming Colossus, the first electronic computer, which reduced the time taken to decrypt German code patterns during the war.

At Edinburgh University, he established a research group to investigate building machines that could think and learn. This group formed the nucleus of the Department of Machine Intelligence and Perception, which was set up in 1967.

The department developed new computational tools and techniques including the Pop-2 symbolic programming language, and its robotics research resulted in a teachable robot capable of assembling objects.

During the 1970s Michie was a regular contributor to Computer Weekly. He founded the Turing Institute, Glasgow, in 1984 and his later career was marked by a succession of honours and awards.

Telegraph obituary >>

Guardian obituary >>

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