George Slater (University of Hull), now retired Executive and Program Manager Programming ConsultantGeorge Slater was a member of the Computer Centre at the university of Hull for more than forty years until he retired in 2014. For twenty-five of those years he was involved with the computing projects of the History department, most notably Domesday.
Until Matthew Palmer joined the Domesday project in the mid-1990s, George wrote all the software, provided the expertise on databases and text coding, and gave much-needed technical support on every one of its aspects. As an early article (1987) commented, George was "the one indispensable member of the team" without whose enthusiastic and long-lasting support the project would have been still-born or died at an early age. Despite enormous advances in power and complexity of modern computers and software, his design decisions for the database structures made in the early 1980s have stood the test of time and provide the foundations on which Domesday Explorer is built.
When Matthew joined the project, his skills were complementary, George dealing with the nitty-gritty of the 'back-end', or database infrastructure, while Matthew wrote the Domesday Explorer software. In the process, their understanding of the problems deepened and their skills were honed by interaction. Some faint indication of the problems involved is indicated by these working diagrams:
Their collaboration with each other and the historians was fundamental to the overall success of the project. Even after 25 years, occasional misunderstandings between the historians and programmers underline just how significant their close association over the years has been.
For technical detail on the 'back-end', see George Slater, 'The Hull Domesday textbase: a programmer's view', University Computing, vol. 10 (1988), 2-8.