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Computer expert and broadcaster Ian McNaught-Davis dies at 84

Face of the Beeb's Micro unplugs

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Obit Ian McNaught-Davis, star of the BBC's The Computer Programme, has died at the age of 84. His funeral is being held in London this afternoon.

MAC, as he was affectionately known to his friends, was an accomplished mountaineer, television broadcaster, mathematician and computer expert, who lit up the screens of tech enthusiasts across Blighty back in the 1980s.

He was the main presenter on more than 60 telly programmes as part of the BBC's Computer Literacy Project, which first aired in 1979.

Three years later, McNaught-Davis co-presented Making the Most of the Micro with Chris Serle. But it was McNaught-Davis - with his deep understanding and ability to make tech discussions accessible to many - who made the mysteries of the computer come alive back in the days of the 8-bit era.

"MAC was 'the man who knew about computers'," said David Allen, who was the editor of the BBC Computer Literacy Project between 1979 and 1987.

McNaught-Davis was considered to be the face of the BBC Micro computer, but Allen noted in a post for the National Museum of Computing that "MAC was a man for whom 'the micro' was slightly beneath him - he treated it as a new boy on the block."

He also appeared as "wizard of the microchip" on the BBC's The Adventure Game. Here he is in action:

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In his later years, McNaught-Davis became a patron of the British Mountaineering Council, having been its president for three years in the early '90s.

His greatest achievement in that high altitude field was to make the first ascent of Muztagh Tower [7,276m, 23,871ft] with three other men in 1956, reminisced fellow climber Doug Scott.

"He was a superb raconteur entertaining audiences and guests at climbing events and dinners where his self-deprecating humour had everyone completely captivated," Scott added.

McNaught-Davis was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease a few years ago and, more recently, liver cancer. He died on 8 February, aged 84. ®

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