Dr Howlett: Celebration

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A celebration of the life of Dr Jack Howlett (1912 - 1999), who lived in Oxford, was held at the CCLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory on the afternoon/early evening of Friday 24 September. Many of his friends and colleagues attended this tribute to a great mathematician.

Jack Howlett was a numerical analyst. He was educated in Manchester and took up a post as Head of the Computer Group at AERE Harwell in 1948. When the Atlas Computer Laboratory was built outside the Harwell Laboratory fence in 1961, Jack took over as its Director and saw several powerful computers come and go. This was the era of the start of great computing advances. The Atlas1 computer took up several rooms and scientists would come from all over the country, and the World, to run their scientific research programs on it. Jack set up a group involved in computing and X-ray crystallography, he took the first steps towards establishing what are now called databases, and his links with the Met Office led to early computer models for weather forecasting. His relaxed management style was only really appreciated by those who worked at Atlas when they moved on to experience less inspiring managers.

He had a great interest in the outdoors - he loved walking in the fells and Yorkshire Moors - and he liked to indulge his love of music and the arts in his spare time. His linguistic skills led him to translating books on computing from the French.