FORWARD THINKER; Computing leader receives national honor
The Chronicle (Canberra): Mark Sawa 24 February 2015
One of Canberra's most forward thinking societies has launched its 50th anniversary year at the National Museum of Australia by recognising one of its foundation members. The Canberra Computer Society formed on May 6, 1965, with a collection of some of the most innovative minds in the country. ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr, Patron of the society, presented foundation secretary Barry Smith with an honorary membership.
The society became the Canberra branch of the Australian Computer Society on January 1, 1966, and Mr Smith would go on to become its vice president. The group was at the vanguard of an exciting new era in computing. Mr Smith said its first president was Trevor Pearcey, who is recognised in the industry as a visionary. There was a group of half a dozen or so people who thought it would be a good idea to have a society," he said.
We all felt back then that we were part of a wave of modern development that was going to be fairly important and do interesting things. What has happened since then is that the rate of change has been extraordinary." The society has grown rapidly. It has more than 2300 members [Canberra] and hosts about 95 events annually. The Canberra branch supports a thriving information and communication technology sector in the capital and provides leadership to the federal government and the ICT community. Canberra has always been an unusual place in many ways," Mr Smith said. There is a concentration of academic institutions and government and it has always had a fair amount of high technology. There are people in Canberra doing software and various other things that have been marketed worldwide and there has always been people here doing very useful things." ACS Canberra chairman Jeff Mitchell said Mr Smith's achievements, including the introduction of computer science courses at the Australian National University, were significant and worth recognising.
Picture – Barry Smith (seated) 1964. Courtesy National Archives of Australia