Peter Bird obituary

My former colleague and friend Peter Bird has died aged 82. Today computers are ubiquitous and have transformed many aspects of business administration and how we live our daily lives. But the so-called information age ushered in by computing and communications technology dates only from the middle of the last century.

Peter, who had worked with J Lyons & Co, the food company famed for its teashops, and the unlikely pioneer of the use of computers in business from the 1950s, chronicled the Lyons initiative in his groundbreaking book LEO: The First Business Computer (1994), and later the story of J Lyons itself in The First Food Empire: A History of J Lyons & Co (2000). Both books were meticulously researched and compiled, with original photos from the respective eras.

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William Tipler obituary

My father, William Tipler, known as Bill, who has died aged 95, was an engineer who served at Bletchley Park during the second world war before going on to a long career with Shell Oil.

He was born the fifth of six children in Watford, to William Tipler, a teacher (later headteacher), and Grace (nee Morton). He excelled academically, attending Watford grammar school for boys and gaining an exhibition to Queens’ College, Cambridge to read mathematics. Due to the war, he opted to complete his degree in two years, graduating with a first in 1943. He represented Queens’ at chess, and was noted for his reckless attacking.

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Is the flying car ready for takeoff?

At least six developers have retail road-air vehicles in the pipeline, so it’s time to watch the skies

A little white winged pod lifts itself off the ground and glides off into the distance. The whole movement looks effortless. It’s like watching Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder – except we’re in a nondescript airfield in Germany, not the planet Tatooine. Echoes of Star Wars perhaps help explain why last week the pod’s maker, Lilium, secured $90m (£69m) investment from, among others, Chinese tech giant Tencent – although the company states its aim has more to do with solving transport problems: “We have highly congested cities and we can do things to improve matters,” said Lilium’s Remo Gerber. “We’re trying to move from a niche transport vehicle to a mass-transport one”.

Lilium is not flying solo. Prototypes by rival ventures are also passing their test flights. So the prospect of flying cars may not be all that far away. Here are six projects working towards bringing Back to the Future into the present.

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