The Professor Review


The weekend, Newstalk airs the story of a man many would consider to the father of computing in Ireland, Professor John Byrne, in a radio documentary simply called The Professor.

Made by independent radio storytellers Curious Broadcast, The Professor explores the life and influence of a shy but brilliant Trinity College Dublin scholar with extraordinary vision, who was directly responsible for the success of the Irish Software sector.

From persuading college authorities to invest IR£10,000 in order buy one of Ireland’s only computers in 1962 – which was so large its two crates needed to be hoisted by a crane from the back of a flatbed truck – to developing Ireland’s first third level computer science department in the 1970s, he showed a vision and determination that lay the foundation for a software industry that today employs more than 24,000 people and generates €16 billion in exports. He let his success shine through the people he worked with and the students he inspired, many of whom are now leading figures in computer engineering in Ireland. Yet no one outside the tech sector has ever heard of what his students called Prof Byrne. Who was he, and how did he do what he did?

Professor Sean Baker, co-founder and former Chief Scientific Officer of Iona Technologies sums up the role Prof Byrne had in the computer industry in Ireland. “If Prof Byrne hadn’t been here, if he hadn’t done what he did, we would without doubt not have the same global position in the software industry that we actually have. Ireland is one of the major exporters of software in the World and is one of the major software development innovation hubs within Europe. If it hadn’t been for Prof Byrne you have

to ask yourself, what impact would it have had to our global positioning if we were late to the party, would we have been number 20, number 50, number 100 in the World? We would definitely not be in one of the top positions we are today without the contribution he made”.

Told through the voices of his colleagues, friends and family, Prof Byrne is remembered with much love and admiration. The central narrative of The Professor is the personal exchange of stories and reflections on the career and life of Professor John Gabriel Byrne; stories recounted by his close friends and colleagues, the men and women who worked beside him for his 60 plus years in Trinity College Dublin. Professor John Gabriel Byrne died on 16th April, 2016.

With contributions from Chris Horn, Michael Moylan, Dan McCarthy, Neville Harris and Jane Grimson, The Professor chronicles the development of the computer industry in Ireland from the installation of the Country’s first computers, and the sending of the first internet message in Ireland The Professor is a Curious Broadcast production funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland with the television licence fee. The Professor is broadcast on Newstalk 106 – 108FM this Sunday 9 September at 7am with a repeat on Saturday 15 September at 9pm The programme will be available for download from after the broadcast.

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