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RAL has a long history of support for electromagnetic design which grew out of the needs of the High Energy Physics community. The work of the Computer Applications Group was incorporated into the Interactive Computing Facility as one of the its Special Interest Groups (SIGEM: Electromagnetic and Electrostatic Applications). The Group developed several major magnetic computer codes (GFUN, PE2D and TOSCA). The SIG continued until 1987. Initially Compeda marketed the range of RAL software but Vector Fields Limited was formed in August 1984. Bill Trowbridge from RAL headed the company with John Simkin and Chris Biddelecombe fromt RAL, providing the techical skills. Bill continued to work part-time at RAL.
On Bill Trowbridge's retirement in 1987, the members of Bill's group who stayed at RAL moved to Informatics. Work continued in collaboration with Vector Fields with a special emphasis on seeing whether the new generation of superworkstations could be used as stand-alone design stations for complex electromagnetics. The group was run by Bill Diserens until his retirement in 1990.
Vector Fields celebrated its 20th Anniversary in 2004. The company’s products were by then being sold in 45 countries with most of the leading electrical companies and government research laboratories as customers. A Software User Conference at Magdalen College celebrated the event and was attended by delegates from Japan, Korea, USA and Europe. Key note speeches were given by Bill Trowbridge and Paul Williams.