1992 Kyoto Prize Laureates

Advanced Technology

Information Science

Maurice Vincent Wilkes

/  Computer Engineer

1913 - 2010

Professor Emeritus, University of Cambridge

Commemorative Lectures

A Computer Engineer Looks Back


11 /11 Wed

Place:Kyoto International Conference Center


Evolution in Computer Technology


11 /12 Thu

13:00 - 17:30

Place:Kyoto International Conference Center

Achievement Digest

Building and Designing the First Practical Stored Program Computer and Pioneering Studies of Computer Architecture

A computer engineer who has made an enormous contribution to the research and development of computers for practical use. He was responsible for the development of EDSAC, the first stored program computer to go into service, the prototype of the modern computer, and has conducted a great deal of highly original research into computer architecture necessary to realize high-performance computers.


Dr. Maurice Vincent Wilkes is an eminent computer engineer who first developed the “stored-program computer,” the prototype of most modern computers, as well as devising many of the principal arithmetic control procedures adopted in contemporary computers. He has thereby made major contributions to the development and practical implementation of computers.

Dr. Wilkes focused his attention upon the proposals of the group headed by Dr. John von Neumann, and devised the ultrasonic delay line storage unit, stored program control mechanism, and other apparatus necessary for the realization of these proposals; and in 1949 he led the entire world by developing a stored program computer, the EDSAC, at the practical level. This program technology was exploited in the development of the first business computer, known as the LEO (Lyons Electronic Office), in 1951. Furthermore, these technological advances made possible a great number of notable achievements such as the basic programming methodology, the subroutine concept, and methods of program loading, and numerical analysis, thereby demonstrating the epochal capabilities inherent in stored program computers.

In addition, Dr. Wilkes has conducted a great quantity of original research on the procedures and devices (architecture) necessary for the realization of high-performance computers, including microprogramming and multiprogram processing methods, prototypes of operating systems, time-sharing systems, local area networks (LAN), memory protection devices, and numerous other valuable techniques. In particular, his proposals concerning microprogramming methods were indispensable for the realization of very-large-scale integrated (VLSI) high-performance computers, as well as providing effective means for imparting problem-adaptive capabilities to computers. These contributed to the realization of a new computer paradigm and have been evaluated extremely highly. This multitude of important research results has been presented and announced in a total of seven books and over 130 research papers.

This record of brilliant research achievements duly attests to the preeminent qualifications of Dr. Maurice Vincent Wilkes as the laureate of the 1992 Kyoto Prize for Advanced Technology.


Born in England
Graduated from St. Johns College, Cambridge (Mathematical Tripos)
Ph.D., Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University
Head, Computer Laboratory, Cambridge University
Professor Emeritus, Cambridge University
Senior Consulting Engineer, Digital Equipment Corporation, Massachusetts
Consultant on research strategy, Olivetti
Selected Awards and Honors
Fellow of the Royal Society, London
Turing Award (ACM)
Honorary Member of Information Processing Society of Japan
Eckert-Mauchly Award (ACM/IEEE)
McDowell Award (IEEE)
Faraday Medal (IEEE)
Major Works
The EDSAC, an Electronic Calculating Machine. J.Sci. Instr.26 (with Renwick, W.)
The Best Way to Design an Automatic Computing Machine. Report of Manchester University Computer Inaugural Conference
Preparation of Programs for an Electronic Digital Computer. Addison-Wesley Press. (with Wheeler, D.J. et al.)
Automatic Digital Computers. Methuen
Time-Sharing Computer System. Macdonald
Memoirs of a Computer Pioneer. MIT Press

Profile is at the time of the award.