BLACK BOX: Ann Moffatt in the late 1960s writing programs to analyse Concorde's black box, while daugher Claire, now in her 50s, looks on. Ann today (inset).
BLACK BOX: Ann Moffatt in the late 1960s writing programs to analyse Concorde's black box, while daugher Claire, now in her 50s, looks on. Ann today (inset). Contributed.

Ann cracks the code for a lifetime of fun

ANN Moffatt is the first to admit she's been paid far too much money for having such fun.

Since the late 1950s Ann has worked with computers, cracking codes and creating programs, all without a university degree, let alone a high school diploma.

Ms Moffatt said her intention was to go to university, but a high-speed bicycle accident in 1958, stopped her from starting a Maths Degree at the University of London.

Instead, she had a fractured skull, 26 stitches on her face and the inability to count backwards from 10.

Ms Moffatt was 16 when she had the accident, and was working at London's Met Office.

"I was working for a brilliant man, he was a phd and for some reason (that I never found out), he was writing a maths book for the Chinese market in Chinese," she explained.

"He used to give me all his work to do, which was lovely.

"It stretched me, was very nice and if I got stuck...he'd come and help.

"I learnt a real lot."


Local legend Ann Moffatt
Local legend Ann Moffatt Contributed.

In preparation, she studied all three of the library books on computers.

Instead, she was seriously injured from her accident, which prevented her from attending the course, or starting her degree, and would have a two year recovery.

Once she was well enough, she asked the University of London to send all 10 books on computers from their library.

"Then I had read 13 books on computers," she said.

"My boyfriend, who worked for Kodak, next to the Met Office, came home one day and said, 'there is a notice on our noticeboard - they want a computer programmer with a maths degree'."

Despite her injury and lack of university education, her boyfriend convinced her to apply for the job.

After being interviewed by nine people, she sat an IBM aptitude test in which she scored the highest of anyone at the time, and upon passing a medical, she was employed.

"I got the job and Kodak sent me to learn how to program," Ms Moffatt said.

"The guy who taught me to program was Conway Berners-Lee, who was the father of Sir Tim Berners-Lee who invented the world wide web.

"Little Tim was only four, and as Conway's wife was about to have a baby, he used to bring little Tim into the lessons, and I used to get to look after him being the only woman in the class."

Today, she has worked as a programmer, analyst, designer, project manager and company manager, serving on several company boards.

AMP Society head hunted Ms Moffatt in 1975 and she migrated to Australia.

In 2001, Ann retired to Hervey Bay, and still uses her skills to raise awareness of the benefits ICT brings to regional communities.

With University of Southern Queensland, Wide Bay Institute of TAFE and the Department of State Development, Ms Moffatt established an incubation and innovation centre in Hervey Bay.

The FACTOREE, Fraser Area Communications and Technology Open Resource Education Enterprise, was opened in March 2003 and was operational until 2009.

Ms Moffatt continues to teach the community how to avoid and manage PC security issues through U3A and neighbourhood watch, mentoring students and local business people on opportunities in ICT.

In 2015, Ms Moffatt established the Silicon Coast Extracurricular Code School and now teaches young students in how to program.