The UK’s digital roots

By May 16, 2016 Latest News

A global hub of innovation and disruption, for decades the UK has led the charge of the digital light brigade.

Tech Nation 2016, the second annual report from Tech City UK, the Government-backed body that promotes technology in the UK, and innovation charity Nesta, is the most comprehensive study of the UK’s digital sector.

Recent figures from the report show that the UK’s digital tech industries are growing 32% faster than the rest of the UK economy, in terms of turnover, driving economic growth, employment and regional development.

Accounting for 1.46m jobs across the UK, in the words of Prime Minister David Cameron, “tech is transforming the way we do all kinds of business. More than half of all digital jobs now aren’t in high-tech hubs of London or Leeds – they are in businesses of every description, in every sector”.

With the market estimated to grow at a rate of 5.4% by 2020, digital is one of the most future-proof industries with new innovations, opportunities and applications of technology digitising modern life.

But where did the UK’s digital revolution start? Here’s a closer look at four of the UK’s leading digital pioneers.


  • Ada Lovelace (1815 – 1852)

The daughter of the “mad, bad and dangerous to know” poet Lord Byron, Ada Lovelace was an early pioneer of computer science, who set about to prove that computers could do much more than just calculations.

Encouraged by friendships with leading mathematicians such as Mary Somerville, Professor Augustus De Morgan and Charles Babbage, over the years Lovelace began translating complex mathematical concepts into English adding her own notes to the translations.

In these notes Lovelace broke new ground in computing, identifying that an analytical engine could convert anything into numbers, such as music, the alphabet (language) or images, via computer algorithms.


  • Alan Turing (1912 – 1954)

Highly regarded as the ‘creator of modern computing’, British mathematician and WW2 code breaker, Alan Turing published a paper in 1936 that is now recognised as the foundation of computer science.

Analysing what it meant for a human to follow a definite method or procedure to perform a task, Turing invented the idea of a “Universal Machine” that could decode and perform any set of instructions.

Ten years later he turned the concepts of algorithms and computation into a practical plan for an electronic computer, capable of running any program.


  • Sir Clive Sinclair (1940 – )

A British entrepreneur and the 1972 inventor of the world’s first ‘slim-line’ electronic pocket calculator, Sir Clive Sinclair is best known for creating the UK’s first mass market home computer priced under £100.

A mathematician and member of Mensa, Sinclair has made many inventions over the past 50 years including the personal computer, micro TV and underwater electric vehicles for divers, plus the recent micro folding “A-bike”.


  • Sir Tim Berners-Lee (1955 – )

A British computer scientist who invented the World Wide Web in 1989, Sir Tim Berners-Lee irrefutably changed the world as we know it today.

While working at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva, in the ‘80s Berners-Lee first described the concept of a global system that would allow researchers to share information, based on the concept of ‘hypertext’.

In 1989, Berners-Lee published a paper called ‘Information Management: A Proposal’ where he connected his hypertext with the internet, to create a system for sharing information on a global scale.

To begin your career as the UK’s next digital pioneer, get in touch with Digital People today.