Dr. Arthur Porter (1910-2010), Acting Director for the Centre for Culture & Technology, University of Toronto (1967-68)
Dr. Arthur Porter of University of Toronto’s Industrial Engineering Department assumed the directorship of the Centre for Culture & Technology during McLuhan’s visiting professorship at Fordham University in 1968 and was responsible for securing the Coach House for the Centre. Porter provided this autobiographical account of himself:-
I was born in Ulverston, England, on December 8, 1910. While studying at the University of Manchester, I helped build a differential analyzer—one of the world’s first analogue computers. We used a Mecanno construction set.
In 1937, I accepted a fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). I helped build the Rockefeller differential analyser—the most ambitious analogue/digital computer built to date. It was used extensively for projects during the Second World War. I also co-developed the Porter-Stoneman converter system, automating the process of feeding data into the analyzer.
In 1949, I accepted a position with Ferranti Canada and worked on the DATAR system. DATAR combined data from a convoy of ships’ sensors, providing a single ‘overall view’ that allowed the commander to make better-informed decisions. Soon afterwards, in the early 1950s, I was one of six Canadians selected to work on Project Lamp Light. My data processing expertise was crucial to this top-secret North American air defence initiative.
In 1958, I became Dean of Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan. There, along with Norman Moody and Dr. William Feindel, I established Canada’s first biomedical research program. In 1962, I moved to the University of Toronto to chair their new Industrial engineering department—one of the first in the world. While there, I also helped establish the University’s biomedical program.
During the late 1960s, I was involved in projects that bridged the gap between culture and science. I was the first acting director of the University of Toronto’s Centre for Culture and Technology. I also chaired the Science and Technology Advisory Committee when Montreal hosted the World’s Fair—Expo 67.
In 1969, I wrote Cybernetics Simplified—one of the first books to provide an overview of how computers work. I resigned from academic life in 1975 to Chair the Ontario Royal Commission on Electric Power Planning. This report continues to influence Ontario’s renewable energy policies. Source: https://goo.gl/HAkvKa
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