Michael Hancock (1929-2023)

Mike Hancock

Michael (Mike) Hancock was born on 20 October 1929 in Earl’s Court Gardens, London. He was educated at Cheltenham College and Corpus Christi Cambridge. While visiting the Maths lab, Mike saw his first computer called Edsac. This piqued his interest in what would become the foundation of his career in the pioneering days of computer development. He went on to enjoy a hugely successful career in computing with Shell-Mex BP and BP.

Mike’s 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 “I seemed to absorb the roles of analyst, programmer and consultant by osmosis without undue effort”.

In 1957 he joined Shell-Mex and BP. With this background he put forward a recommendation to buy one of the first ever business computers LEO3 (Lyons Electronic Office). As Chief Programmer in a new department in Kingsway, Mike created a large sales accounting system which was later established on the new LEO computers at Hemel Hempstead.

While they were commissioned he was tasked with setting up a computer system to capture 40,000 dealer site records – acronym TREACLE. He also worked with McKinsey at Shell-Mex House to establish how computers might support organisation changes they recommended. With an ACMA qualification he led the 60 strong Marketing Accounts team who produced the management accounts for the company.

In 1976 after the de-merger, Mike was appointed Accounts Manager for BP Oil at Hemel Hempstead with 300 clerical staff. In 1981 he was appointed Computer Division Manager with 300 staff under his umbrella and was a member of BP’s International Computer Committee.

In 1984 he was appointed Information Policy Controller based in Victoria before retiring in 1986.

His wife Jill of 65 years died three years ago and he leaves two children, Nicky and Robin.

In correspondence with the editor about her father, Nicky Moorey wrote: ‘We took dad back to Cambridge for his 93rd birthday and visited the computer museum with him. It was amazing as he had worked with many of the early computers including LEO – he knew the people that developed them and the machines and how they operated – and he said he had written something for a book on LEO – sure enough we found it in the bookshop so bought a copy!’ The book is question was LEO Remembered and by coincidence we have received a letter about it from the LEO Computers Society (see page 21) following some previous correspondence in bps news in 2020.

Our thanks go to both Nicky and Robin for providing the information about their father.

Share the Post: