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Donald Davies (1924–2000) was a Welsh computer scientist who worked at the UK National Physical Laboratory. His most influential work was the development of packet switching in the area of computer networking. The work is considered a crucial breakthrough for modern computer communications, especially for the internet to function. He is considered one of the key people behind the creation of the internet.
Donald Davies was born in 1924 at Treorchy in the Rhondda Valley. He earned a BSc in physics and BSc in mathematics in 1943 and 1947 respectively from the Imperial College London. After earning the Lubbock Memorial Prize for the best mathematician of the year, Davies joined the National Physical Laboratory in 1947. Inspired by a lecture by Jon Womersley during his last year at university, he joined a small team led by Alan Turing of Bletchley Park to pilot the ACE computer, which was one of the first five electronic stored-program digital computers in the world. In 1965, he developed the idea that in order to achieve better and faster communication between computers, a faster message switching communication mechanism was required, with the long messages split into chunks known as packets. He coined the term "packet" and developed the technique is known as packet-switching. ARPANET and the NPL local network became the first networks to make use of Davis' techniques of communications. In order to concentrate on technical work, Davies quit his managerial post at the National Physical Laboratory in 1979. In 1984 he retired but continued to work as a data security consultant.
In his area of expertise, Davis authored and co-authored four books. For his work on packet-switching, he was conferred the John Player Award in 1974 and a Distinguished Fellowship in 1975 by the British Computer Society. Davies went on to become the technical vice president of the British Computer society in 1983, the year in which he was appointed CBE. He became a Fellow of Royal Society in 1987 and a visiting professor at Bedford New College and Royal Holloway in 1987. In 2012, Davies was inducted by the Internet Society into the Internet Hall of Fame.