Monday, 30 January 2017

Cyril Brookes 1938-2007

Cyril Henry Putnam Brookes was born in 1938 to parents Cyril and Mary Brookes. Cyril Snr was born in England and Mary in the United States. They met in the States whilst both were working for the same engineering company. (see blog re Mary Brookes)
After coming to Australia in 1929, the Brookes settled in Sydney and in 1938 had their only child Cyril Jnr, or "little Cyril" as he was known. When Cyril was 11 the family moved to the old gothic sandstone mansion "St Helen's Park". It would be the family home for the next 40 years. Cyril was sent to school at St Ignatius College, Riverview, for 5 years from 1950 to 1955, and then attended Sydney University.
Cyril dated and later married local girl Diana Milliken, and he is remembered by David Milliken, Diana's brother, as "hugely intelligent, and such a lovely man. He was going to Sydney University and ..when he first went out with Diana he would come home with books lent to him by figures like Harry Messel, and the Cadbury Chocolate man Professor Sumner Miller. You look back on it and you realise that he must have been pretty bright then because they recognised it".
Cyril obtained a Bachelor's Degree and a Master's Degree in Electrical Engineering with First Class Honours, and in 1962 was awarded a scholarship to St Edmund Hall, Oxford University to complete his Doctorate. His thesis would become legendary amongst some circles.
In 1964, Cyril joined BHP and in the late sixties was asked by BHP management to go the United States and oversee the purchase of a new computing system, a huge responsibility with a budget of over a million dollars. The story goes that towards the end of this journey in the US, the local consultant announced that there was a budget problem - there was too much left over!!! Over the next few days, staying at the Plaza Hotel in New York, cases of champagne were ordered, and the budget problem solved!!
By 1972 Cyril was responsible for BHP's entire computing function, with a staff of over 1000 in six locations across Australia. In 1974, at the age of 36, Cyril became founding professor of Information Studies at the University of New South Wales. A defining moment in his career, he would build up one of the world's largest applied information technology schools.

Cyril Brookes (photo courtesy SMH)
His research work allowed him to move into the corporate world, resulting in the formation of Grapevine Technologies Ltd, and EIS Pathfinder. He also wrote a blog called Cyril on Business Intelligence. In 2003, Cyril was named on The Bulletin's list of top 100 Smartest Australians.
Tragically, Cyril lost his life in 2007, in a tragic accident at home. Whilst standing in the driveway, a load of timber being delivered and unloaded came loose and fell upon him, and he died shortly after.
He had devoted his life to the development of information technology and knowledge management, but was also devoted to his wife, family and his passions. His was a life cut way too short. 

Written by Claire Lynch
Sources
SMH Obituaries "An innovator with flair"
Consensus IT Writers Awards Judges' Profiles 2005
https://cyrilonbi.wordpress.com/  "Cyril's Last Post".

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