David John Pearson
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David John Pearson is a British physicist, computer scientist, and an Associate of the Royal College of Science. He joined International Computers Limited in 1968 and became head of software engineering, responsible for CADES, the development system for the 2900 Series Operating System VME/B.
After spending four years as director of advanced development for Bell-Northern Research in Ottawa, he became the founder and president of Orcatech, one of the world's first intelligent graphics workstation companies.
He went on to become the founding chief executive and director of the Strathclyde Institute in Glasgow, Scotland, a company turnaround specialist, a 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 chief operating officer and finance director of the Industrial Society, later to become the Work Foundation. He has Canadian and British citizenships.
Early life and education
Pearson was born in Birkenhead, Cheshire and was educated at Park High School. He has degrees in physics and theoretical physics from London University and Imperial College of Science and Technology, where he did his postgraduate research.
Pearson started his career at International Computers Limited in 1968. He was involved in the early development work of the VME/B operating system for ICL’s 2900 Series. He was the innovator and original architect of the CADES software engineering system that was the foundation of VME/B development activities for over 20 years, and he led its development team until 1977. CADES was conceived in 1970 by Pearson and Brian Warboys when working for ICL’s New Range Operating System Technology Centre, OSTECH, in Kidsgrove. Pearson, a theoretical physicist by training, had become a computer simulation specialist and joined ICL in 1968 after working in finite-element modelling and simulation research at Imperial College. Warboys had been chief architect for the ICL System 4 multi-access operating system, Multijob.
ICL’s commitment to large scale software development for the 2900 Series of computers provided the basis for the Pearson and Warboys early work on a new software development environment which would address the issues of designer/programmer productivity, design integrity, evaluation and testing, version control and systems regression.
In designing the initial architecture of the CADES environment, Pearson in particular looked to parallels with the leading hardware computer-aided design systems of the time, even attempting the use of graphics in the design process CADES was one of the first software engineering environments to be used for the development of large-scale software. Pearson always claimed that he formulated the architecture of CADES while studying Alan Turing's papers on artificial intelligence and Arthur Koestler's book, Ghost in the Machine, on a beach in Tunisia. After 30 years, the system was still in use by Fujitsu to maintain the ICL operating system.
Bell-Northern Research Laboratories
At the end of 1977, Pearson moved to Bell-Northern Research Laboratories in Ottawa, Canada, as Director of the laboratory's Advanced Development teams. Whilst at BNR his primary focus was on leading research programmes working on heuristic design and development technologies for Northern Telecom digital communications products. 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 switching 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 Natural Science and Engineering Research Council for Canada.
In 1981, with a small number of BNR colleagues, Pearson left to found Orcatech Inc., a company specialising in the design and development of high resolution intelligent graphics workstations for the computer-aided engineering market. In the early 1980s, the availability of bit-slice and 16-bit microprocessors started to revolutionise 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, rather than continuing to rely on central mainframe and mini-computers. Typical of the early move to high resolution computer graphics intelligent workstations for the computer-aided engineering market were the Orca 1000, 2000 and 3000 workstations, developed by Orcatech of Ottawa, a spin-off from Bell-Northern Research, and led by Pearson. 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, Boeing and Lockheed as clients. After developing a portfolio of successful workstation products and a rich portfolio of blue-chip clients, Pearson as President and CEO took the company public on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 1983, at that time one of the youngest companies ever to go public on the TSX.
The Strathclyde Institute
In 1986 he moved back to the UK to become a company turnaround specialist and the first chief executive of the Strathclyde Institute, a research and consultancy company focusing on business process re-engineering and computer-based advanced business systems and based in Glasgow, Scotland. In establishing the Institute, Pearson's partners were 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 areas of computer engineering, jet engine manufacture, automotive assembly, food and beverage processing, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Concurrently, Pearson was also a professor in management at Strathclyde University in Glasgow and a government adviser on company startup policy, seed funding and operations.
In 1993 Pearson became a director of Scottish Enterprise, the national body responsible for the economic development of Scotland. While there he specialised in company startups, venture investing and economic growth strategies for the west of Scotland.
After three years with Scottish Enterprise, Pearson took over as chief executive of the Norfolk and Waveney Enterprise Partnership, the quasi-governmental economic development agency for much of East Anglia. He was recruited to turn around this failing organisation, which he did successfully, transforming it into one of the highest performing in the country. The Enterprise Partnership had a membership of over 2,000 companies and operated with a budget of almost 40 million pounds per annum. Pearson also served as a member of the University of East Anglia Senate during this period.
At the beginning of 2000, he was appointed chief operating officer and finance director of the Industrial Society, later to become The Work Foundation, where he advised the private and public sectors on compliance, growth and employment futures. He led the financial re-structuring of this venerable not-for-profit organisation, leading the sale of the Society's training division to Capita for over 23 million pounds, reviving the ailing balance sheet and saving the company from insolvency.
After securing the future of the Work Foundation, he moved to British Columbia, Canada.
- B.C.Warboys "The IPSE 2.5 Project: Process Modelling as a basis for a support environment" International Conference on System Development Environments and Factories, May 1989, Berlin
- Martin Campbell-Kelly "ICL: A business and technical history" Clarendon Press, Oxford 1989
- D.J.Pearson "CADES - Computer-aided development and evaluation system" Computer Weekly, 1973
- D.J.Pearson and B.C.Warboys "Structural Modelling - A Philosophy" OSTC/IN/40 July 1970
- G.D.Pratten and R.A.Snowden "CADES, support for the development of complex software" EUROCOMP,1976
- M.A.Firth and Others "Improving a software development environment using object-oriented technology" TOOLS (8), 1992
- B.W.Chatters, M.M.Lehman, et al. "Modelling a software evolution process" Software Process: Improvement and Practice, September 2000
- D.J.Pearson "The use and abuse of a software engineering system" National Computer Conference 1979
- Don Leavitt "Development method review held useful" Computerworld June 1979
- A.Bobas and J.Valahora "A design automation system for printed circuit board assemblies" Proceeding of the 14th Design Automation Conference, 1977
- Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada Council Members[not in citation given]
- David Thomas "Knights of the New Technology: The Inside Story of Canada's Computer Elite" Longmans 1983
- Desroches,Jog,Theberge: "Entrepreneurs and Initial Public Offerings", Institute for Research on Public Policy, 1991
- "CIM Institute at Strathclyde" Electronics and Power, Vol 33 Issue 5 May 1987
- David Pearson and Others "Computer Integrated Manufacturing for the Engineering Industry" Financial Times Business Information Ltd., 1990
- "Institute for Computer Integrated Manufacture" University of Strathclyde Archives 2012
- A.Newmann "Business United: A profile of David Pearson" Business Plus, April 1997
- George Trefgarne "Work Foundation Chief Quits" Daily Telegraph 18 February 2003