IAN PATRICK SHARP March 25, 1932 - July 16, 2021 Ian Patrick Sharp, 89, died peacefully in Sarasota, Florida, on Friday, July 16, a few months after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Ian was born in Dublin, of an Irish mother and Scottish father. He was raised in London and Leeds, with a wartime evacuation to an aunt in Dublin. Ian trained as a fighter pilot in the RAF during his National Service, then studied Engineering at Cambridge University. He was a management trainee in the steel industry, where he encountered the Ferranti Pegasus computer. Ian immigrated to Canada in 1960, and found a job as chief programmer at Ferranti's Toronto branch, Ferranti-Packard. There he headed a small team, (including the sole female programmer, Audrey Williams, who became his wife), which wrote the operating system and compilers for an early parallel-processing computer, the FP6000, which became the model for the UK ICL 1900 series. When Ferranti-Packard folded its computer division in 1964, Ian and 6 colleagues formed I.P.Sharp Associates, (IPSA), a computer software consultancy. Over the next 23 years the company grew into a multi-national enterprise, with about 600 employees in 60 branches in Australasia, Europe and North America. A version of e-mail was available in-house and to customers from 1969. The company specialised in the creation of software to handle very large data bases, and software for process control systems in industrial reactors, air traffic control and military applications. Network applications, decades before the advent of the World Wide Web and Cloud Computing, were customised to large multinational banking and industrial companies. Ian was a much-loved CEO, who gave free rein to very bright and driven employees - casual dress and flex-time were taken for granted, back in the 70's. I.P.Sharp Associates was acquired by Reuters in 1987. The IPSA culture of enthusiasm and camaraderie lived on after the company was absorbed into Reuters - 27 years later 200 former colleagues gathered in Toronto for a party to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of IPSA. Ian retired in 1989. He and his wife began spending winters on Longboat Key, and became residents and eventually US citizens. In retirement, Ian became an avid tennis player, only hanging up his racquet 8 weeks ago. He was a 25 year volunteer for Meals on Wheels, and served on the Board of the Children's Guardian Fund. Ian is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Audrey, daughter Helen and her husband Greg Flamme, son Matthew and his wife Tove, and three grandchildren: Sarah Payne, Beatrice and Charles Ian Sharp. He was predeceased by his twin sister Helen Norton and older sister Margaret Clough. A gathering in Ian's memory will take place in Sarasota in the near future, and a memorial will be held online for friends and family around the world. Donations, if desired, are suggested to your local Meals on Wheels program.
Published in The Globe and Mail from Jul. 20 to Jul. 24, 2021.