Treorchy internet pioneer Donald Davies honoured

The life of an internet pioneer has been honoured in his home town in Rhondda where he is "hardly known".

A blue plaque has been unveiled in Treorchy acknowledging the contribution the late Donald Davies made to modern computers and the internet.

He worked with Alan Turing the war-time code-breaker and fellow pioneer of computer science.

Mr Davies was born in the village when his family moved from west Wales so his father could find work in the mines.

"Basically you can trace the modern internet back to a son of a coal miner born in Dumfries Street, Treorchy," said great nephew Ian Titherington.

He says his great uncle is widely known in America which continued his computer work but that "he is hardly known in his home town".

Image caption Mr Davies invented early computer games such his nought and crosses machine

He became involved in the development of creating a network of computers giving them the ability to communicate after designing early electronic stored-program digital computers.

Mr Davies, who died in May 2000 at the age of 75, was brought up in Portsmouth after his mother moved the family following the death of his father.

He went on to study at Imperial College, London, and gained degrees in physics in 1943 and mathematics in 1947.

That year, after learning about the work on the first computer system - known as the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE) - he joined the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) as a member the team led by Mr Turing which eventually created the ACE computer.

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Media captionGreat nephew Ian Titherington reflects on the achievements of Donald Davies

In 1966, he returned to NPL and as head of the computer section he was involved in the development of an idea to achieve communication between computers and which continued abroad.

Mr Ian Titherington told BBC Radio Wales how his relative's work continued in America and how he hopes similar home grown inventors in the future will be supported so their work can develop in the UK.

"There is a lesson there for all of us," he said.

"Wouldn't it be wonderful in the future if we can develop these ideas in Wales in our universities rather than having to reply on geniuses like this going half way round the world to develop their ideas."

Image caption Family and friends travelled from as far as Australia to see RCT's deputy mayor unveil the plaque

In an interview in 2010, his wife Diane told the BBC her husband would have been embarrassed but proud of the success of his work.

"When you realise what has come over the years and how importance it is now it is quite staggering really," she said.

Mr Davies received the British Computer Society Award in 1974, publishing books on computer communication networks in 1973 and security for computer networks in 1984.

His great nephew says he also worked on cryptology for the secure communication in the bank industry.

The plaque to Mr Davies has been unveiled at Treorchy Library in a ceremony attended by members of his family.

Since 2010 Rhondda Cynon Taf council has erected over 30 blue plaques around the county borough to recognise notable people, places and events.

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