John Fairclough

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For other people named John Fairclough, see John Fairclough (disambiguation).
Sir John Whitaker Fairclough
Born (1930-08-23)23 August 1930
Died 5 June 2003(2003-06-05) (aged 72)
Fields Computer science
Known for Computer science

Sir John Whitaker Fairclough (23 August 1930 – 5 June 2003) was a British computer designer, and later government policy advisor.[1]


John Fairclough was educated at Thirsk Grammar School and than studied electrical engineering at Manchester University, before undertaking national service with the RAF.[2]


In 1954, he joined the Ferranti computer department and in 1957 he moved to IBM, including working in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. He returned to the UK to be the Managing Director of IBM Hursley near Winchester in 1974.

During 1986–90, Fairclough was Chief Scientific Adviser for the UK Conservative government led by Margaret Thatcher. He left the Cabinet Office and was knighted in 1990. That year, he joined the Board of NM Rothschild and Sons in 1990, becoming Chairman of its venture capital section. He was also involved with a number of start-up companies.

He was President of the British Computer Society (1997–98).[3]

Personal life[edit]

He married his first wife, Margaret Harvey, in 1954. After her death in 1996, he married his second wife, Karen, in 2000. He had two sons and a daughter from his first marriage.

Preceded by
Sir Robin Nicholson
Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government
Succeeded by
Sir William Stewart


  1. ^ Philip Barker, Top 1000 Scientists: From the Beginning of Time to 2000 AD. ISBN 81-7371-210-7.
  2. ^ Pearce Wright, Obituary: Sir John Fairclough, The Guardian, 11 June 2003.
  3. ^ BCS Past Presidents, British Computer Society, UK.