Suffolk scientist who helped develop modern computers dies aged 98

Undated handout photo issued by the University of Essex of pioneering scientist Professor Ken Catter

University of Essex scientist Professor Ken Cattermole lived in East Bergholt - Credit: PA/Supplied by family

A Suffolk scientist whose research supported the development of modern computers and mobile phones has died, aged 98.

Professor Ken Cattermole, who lived in East Bergholt, worked for many years at the University of Essex and helped launch its telecommunications programme.

His 1969 book, Principles Of Pulse Code Modulation, became a standard reference on the subject, which is a method of turning analogue signals, such as audio and video, into a digital form which can be transmitted.

Prof Cattermole was awarded the JJ Thomson Medal in 1996 by the Institution of Electrical Engineers for his contribution to the development of telecommunications transmission.

The medal is awarded annually to individuals or teams who have made major and distinguished contributions in electronics.


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Laboratories at the University of Essex have been named after Prof Cattermole to mark his contributions to the field.

Prof Cattermole served with the Corps of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in the Second World War before working in industry, initially for Standard Telephones and Cables.

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He started his academic career at the University of Essex in 1968 in the newly-created role of chair of communications.

He also advised the government on communication standards.

Prof Cattermole retired from the university in 1990 but continued to run a science group, alongside his other interests of playing the piano, gardening and painting.

He also kept an interest in Spanish language and literature after spending time in the country.

Prof Cattermole, husband of the late Joan Cattermole, died peacefully on July 21 and is survived by his son Peter, two grandsons and two great-grandsons.

His son Peter said his father lived a "remarkable life".

Tributes to Prof Cattermole have been paid by current academics at the University of Essex.

Professor Stuart Walker, from the university's School of Computer Science and Engineering, said: "Ken was in at the beginning of the development of pulse code modulation, which turns ordinary analogue signals, including audio and video, into a digital form which can be transmitted without limit, stored forever, cleaned up and, these days, strongly encrypted as well.

"It really is the foundation for all the mobile phones, computers and televisions we use today."

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