Calvin Gotlieb, Canadian computing pioneer

Calvin C. (Kelly) Gotlieb, a founder of the Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) and a pioneer of computing in this country has died.

A professor of computer science at the University of Toronto for decades who was honoured many times including the Order of Canada in 1996. he passed away Oct. 16 at the age of 95.

In 1948, along with Dr. Josef Kates and Dr. Harvey Gellman, Gotlieb formed the first team in Canada to design and construct digital computers and to provide computing services, according to CIPS.

With his help in 1952, U of T acquired a Ferranti Mark I, the world’s first commercially available electronic digital computer, and the second to be ever sold.

Here’s a video interview we did with Gotlieb in 2011 on his 90th birthday

He established the first university credit course on computing in Canada on 1950, offered the first Canadian graduate courses in computing in 1951, and in 1964 founded the first graduate department of computer science in Canada, all at UoT.

He had been a consultant to the privacy and computers task force of the federal departments of communications and justice.

Outside this country he was a consultant to the United Nations on computer technology and development.

According to the UoT , Gotlieb was awarded fellowships in the Royal Society of Canada, the Association of Computing Machinery, the British Computer Society, and five honorary doctorates from the University of Toronto, the Université de Montréal, the University of Waterloo, the Technical University of Nova Scotia and the University of Victoria.

He was also s a recipient the Queen Elizabeth II Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals, the Canadian Association of Computer Science (CACS/AIC) Lifetime Achievement Award (2014) and the IEEE C.C. Gotlieb Computer Award, established in 2007 and awarded to him in 2012 when the award was renamed in his honour. columist Stephen Ibaraki — himself a decorated CIPS member — who had known Gotlieb for years, penned a tribute to him in 2013. As part of that article he linked to a 2011 speech he wrote for Gotlieb’s 90th birthday when he was awarded an honorary doctorate at the University of Victoria.

Ibaraki recalled that at in 2010 — at the age of 89 — Gotlieb was asked to be a last minute replacement judge at the annual Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Ibaraki was another judge that year. “Having Kelly as co-judge was truly inspiring, as he is an amazing visionary leader–you can imagine the good fortune of the students to have a computing pioneer and iconic figure encouraging them to continue their research,” he wrote.

“Moreover, Kelly was the first to arrive, the last to leave. Kelly asked the most insightful questions of the finalists and provided kind guidance back and wanted to ensure that all students received positive guidance and congratulations for their work. And he provided an on-the-spot algorithm for ranking the finalists to determine the winners, reducing a days’ work into a little more than an hour.”

He is survived by his son Leo, an IT and management consultant for WMC (Western Managemet Consultants), and daughters Margaret and Jane.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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