Year 1977


Meeting at AAO (Wallace, Bothwell, Peterson, Fosbury, Dickens) to discuss how analysis of astronomical data should be organised. This led to Disney proposing a "Centre for Optical Data Analysis" at RGO. The hardware recommended was based on an Interdata 70 or 7/16 computer with a 64K byte memory and 2x2.5 Mbyte discs. The software would be based on the AAO SDRSYS spectral analysis package. A "low grade programmer" would be required to demonstrate and advise users. Recommended funding was 40K pounds capital and 10K pounds running costs per annum. Ten years later, these initial estimates of the resources required had been exceeded in practice by the following factors: Memory - 2500, Disc - 4000, Capital expediture - 100, Running costs - 200.

Year 1978

Feb 7

Astronomy II Committee considered proposals for image and data processing facilities at ROE, RGO (Hartley), Cambridge (Kibblewhite), and Oxford (A.C. Edwards, Astrophysics). ROE proposed that the Computer Application Services of Heriot-Watt University create a European Image Processing Centre.

Apr 25

Panel on Astronomical Image and Data Processing set up by the Astronomy II Committee of the Science Research Council under the chairmanship of Professor M J Disney.

May 16

Panel endorsed by the Astronomy Space & Radio Board. Observers added from the Astronomy I and Solar System Committees, and the Department of Industry. Terms of reference: "to ascertain the needs of UK astronomers for data reduction and analysis facilities over the next 5-7 years in relation to existing and anticipated facilities, and to report to the Astronomy II Committee".

Year 1979

Feb 27

Meeting at Appleton Lab set up a working group to specify the operational requirements for the Starlink Image Processing System (Lawden, Kibblewhite, Ellis, Shortridge, Davey, Pavelin). Lawden wrote the OR for the computer and Hartley wrote the OR for the image-display system.


Tenders for computers invited from DEC, GEC, IBM, ICL, Prime.


Dave Horn (Cambridge) supplied benchmark programs to assess computers. Panel issued its report.

May 15

DEC presentation.


IBM presentation.


PRIME presentation.


ICL presentation.

Tenders received for computers

Jun 18

8th meeting of Panel accepted the DEC tender rather than the Prime (Disney, Aleksander, Alty, Miller, Francis, Terrett, Kibblewhite, Mackay, Davey, Hartley, Lawden, Pavelin, R Martin, Casey, Dean, Ward).

Jul 18

Council approved recommendations for Starlink at a cost not exceeding 1.8M pounds, on condition that the necessary SRC manpower could be made available within the normal complement. Four major centres (ROE, RGO, UCL, Cambridge); two minor centres (RAL, Manchester). All were based on DEC VAX 11/780 with FPA. Major centres had 2 Mbyte memory and 704 Mbyte disk; Minor centres had 1.5 Mbyte memory and 352 Mbyte disk (based on 176 Mbyte RP06). Capital Cost: 1.686M pounds.


Abridged Panel report issued by its secretary P J Casey.

Sep 12

SAG/1: 1st Meeting of Starlink Scientific Advisory Group at RL (Disney, Boksenberg, Brand, Burge, Ellis, Kibblewhite, Murdin, Skinner, Hunt, Kemp, Houghton). Project to be run from Computing Division, Rutherford Laboratory. Pavelin to act as Project Manager until a Head of Starlink is chosen.

Oct 8

SAG/2: Delays in SIGMA demonstrating their ARGS caused dismay: "No further time could be given to SIGMA and it was agreed that the order (for image-display hardware) should go to Grinnell."


SMM/1: 1st Site Managers Meeting - RAL

31 - Nov 1

Starlink Software Workshop at Appleton Laboratory (Allen, Crane, Fosbury, Golton, Hartley, Hewer, Kibblewhite, Lawden, Murdin, Norris, Pavelin, Skinner, Snijders, Wallace, Warne, Wells). The recommendations of this workshop laid the basis for Starlink's software development plans and the initial design of the Starlink Software Environment.


1st Starlink Progress Meeting (Pavelin, Walter, Lawden, Claringbold). Draft outline low-level interface specs produced: timetable - Feb 80: draft software specs, Apr 80: final software specs, Aug 80: installed.

VAX 11/780 delivered to RAL. Grinnell image display configuration agreed but authorisation is required from Dept of Industry. DOI wanted Starlink to buy SIGMA in spite of delays. Two "Image Processing Workstations" were envisaged per site, to consist of command terminal, graphics terminal and image display.

Lorna Claringbold joined Starlink at RL as operator/manager.

Anton Walter joined Starlink at RL as systems programmer.

Grant money approved by Solar System Committee for IPIPS should be added to the Starlink budget and administered within Starlink.

Dec 10

SAG/3: Outline programme for a "software environment" accepted.

RAL VAX working.

Starlink: Conception (last edited 2009-06-19 17:41:08 by MalcolmCurrie)