The initiative for the British Fifth Generation Computer Project came from a small group of computer science academics. Early in 1981, on learning of the dangerous threat presented by the imminent Japanese programme, Tony Hoare of Oxford University, Bob Kowalski of Imperial College, London, and Donald Michie of Edinburgh University, took it upon themselves to write to the Department of Industry (DoI) to suggest that these Tokyo developments, and their implications, should be the subject of a thorough investigation. This letter went without reply. In September 1981 the DoI received an invitation from MITI to send observers to the conference with marked the launch of their Fifth Generation Computer Programme. Despite this earlier concern shown by Hoare, Kowalski and Michie, the ministry turned to other British academics, asking, among others, Roger Needham of Cambridge University, Brian Randell of Newcastle University and Philip Treleaven of Reading, if they would be prepared to attend the MITI conference, and then, in the light of their findings, report back to the government on what they considered to be appropriate strategies for the British to adopt. The academics were joined on the trip by Ron Atkinson of the DoI.
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