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News > Obituaries > Michael Coventry Hancock (L, 1948)

Michael Coventry Hancock (L, 1948)

Mike Hancock, son of Lt Col Leslie F Hancock OBE (L, 1913), died on 20 February 2023, aged 93.
20 Feb 2023

The following has been provided by Mike’s family.

Mike followed his father (Leslie Hancock OBE) to College. He remembered his time in Leconfield under his Housemaster Mr Lamplugh and he recalled that during wartime the dress code was boiler suits. Later, he had a Scottish Housemaster who taught Scottish dancing and took them on a trip to Scotland. His Housemaster was the person that broke the news of his father’s death just after D-Day when he was just 14.

He enjoyed early morning cross country runs round Charlton Park and being allowed to go out on bicycles on summer Sundays. He was in the JTC and played the saxophone in the Corps Band where he said they learned to march properly and went on field days, all of which proved to be a good foundation for his brief period of National Service in the Royal Scots Fusiliers after leaving school. He received the Silver Mathematics Medal as did his father 30 years earlier.

Mike studied Mathematics at Corpus Christi Cambridge where he met his wife Jill at Reels Club. His first job was at British Tabulating Machine Company in 1952 where he became an expert on computers, designing and writing programmes, and was famously taken to lunch at the Dorchester by the Chairman to explain what computers were capable of. Always a modest man he said, ‘He seemed to absorb the roles of analyst, programmer and consultant by osmosis without undue effort.’

In 1957 he joined Shellmex and BP, where he made a case to purchase one of the first ever business computers LEO3 developed by Lyons Corner Houses. He was given the task
of setting up a system to capture 40,000 dealer records, with the acronym Treacle. He was appointed Chief Programmer and designed a sales accounting system for the company and was relocated to Hemel Hempstead. Having an ACMA qualification, he took charge of the management accounting function. On the demerger he moved to BP Oil as manager of the accounts and computer division. He lived in Berkhamsted and then moved to a village nearby, Little Gaddesden, where he lived for the past 30 years. He was happily married for 65 years and had two children Nicola and Robin and four grandchildren.

To celebrate his 93rd birthday, his children took him back to Cambridge to visit his old college as well as the nearby computing museum. Looking at the early versions of the giant computers he was able to share his recollections of EDSAC and said he thought there might be a chapter in a book on LEO written by him – and sure enough there it was in the museum shop. This was typical of his modesty and his extraordinary memory. At 93 he was still able to recall events in enormous detail. His passion was bridge which he played from an early age up until a few days before he died and for which he was made a Grand Master. A former Chair of Hertfordshire Bridge Association he was described as ‘one of their most successful players ever’ in the recent obituary.

His family are so proud of all that he achieved and his generosity of spirit, gentle sense of humour, kind heart and huge intellect. He was a very dear man and will be greatly missed by his family and friends.

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