Pearcey Foundation History

Old Time Camera 100

A few days after Dr Pearcey's obituary appeared in the Melbourne Age, Ian Dennis, Managing Director of Whitehorse Strategic Group Ltd, and well known Australian I.T. industry figure, contacted Phillip Steele, then Victorian president of The Australian Computer Society and first suggested the idea of a commemorative award, named for Trevor Pearcey, to recognise the pioneering achievements of Australians in the IT industry.

The Australian Computer Society strongly endorsed the idea. Ian wrote to the Australian Information Industries Association shortly thereafter, with the strong support of AIIA Board Member John Gwyther, and received an equally positive response. Over the following months the original idea was translated into the establishment of a continuing Foundation.

At the instigation of Ian Dennis, the Pearcey Foundation Inc. was formed on 1st November 1999 with the initial financial support of:

  • ACS Victoria - represented by then Chairman, Prof. Philip Steele
  • AIIA - represented by then Chairman, John Gwyther
  • Computerworld (Peter Isaacson publications) - represented by then editor: John Costello
  • Whitehorse Strategic Group Ltd. - represented by then Chairman, Ian Dennis.


That Australia should continue to be at the forefront of innovation and application of ICT is self-evident to anyone who examines the economic and social dynamics of our age. Our work, our wealth, health, learning and entertainment are increasingly enabled by ICT. It is easy to take this for granted and see the industry in the image of a few international companies that have become the central powerhouses of industry growth, driven by a global agenda.

The visibility of the IBMs, Microsofts, Suns, News Corps and Ciscos tends to obscure the contribution of Australian researchers, innovators and managers to the success of these industry giants and to the achievements of the many Australian companies and individuals that bring the benefits of the technologies to bear on our personal and national needs.

The Foundation aims to make Australia proudly aware of the achievements of the many Australians, young and old, who have made those ICT achievements possible. Appropriately, the Foundation is named after Dr Trevor Pearcey, the architect and pioneer of the world's fourth digital computer, CSIRAC, created in Sydney in 1949/50 and now preserved in the Museum of Melbourne. This iconic piece of electronics and the name of its design team leader, is employed by the Pearcey Foundation as a platform to promote the significance of the ICT sector on the Australian economy to Australians.

The Pearcey Foundation seeks to identify and reward the best of those individuals and help their example inspire more Australians to choose and excel in ICT careers.

Pearcey Foundation Membership

For a long time, the Pearcey Foundation has been considering inviting members to support the Foundation and its aims.

  • Companion of the Pearcey Foundation (CPF) - appointed by the Pearcey Board and including all existing Pearcey Medalists and Hall-of-Famers.
  • Fellow of the Pearcey Foundation (FPF) - appointed by the Pearcey Board and including all existing Pearcey Award recipients and Pearcey Patrons.
  • Member of the Pearcey Foundation (MPF) - nominated and appointed by the State Pearcey Committees.

This idea is still under discussion.

On-going activities

The Foundation operates broadly across the Australian Information Communication Technologies (ICT) sector, from celebrating achievements through national and state awards, to being involved in debate and public policy on critical national issues such as productivity, the digital economy and national infrastructure.


Each year, the Pearcey Foundation organises events and makes awards including:

  • National Awards which recognise outstanding achievement in Australian ICT covering the Pearcey Medal and the Benson Entrepreneur Award. From 2012-2014 , the national awards were presented as part of the iAwards. In November 2015 the Pearcey Foundation collaborated with the Australian Computer Society to hold our National Awards as part of the Digital Disruptor Awards in Sydney
  • State Awards to recognise upcoming individuals in each Australian State
  • National Debates on critical issues affecting the Australian ICT Industry
  • Pearcey Oration by an eminent Australian on critical ICT issues

The most prestigious Australian ICT Award to an individual is the Pearcey Medal.


The Pearcey Foundation is also proactive in ICT initiatives. For example, in order to accurately measure the impact of ICT in the Australian Economy, the Pearcey Foundation has put forward a Proposal for a Digital Economy Economic Studies Institute (DEESI). The aim of the Institute would be to bring together fragmented and duplicated sets of statistics and analyses scattered among many government, academic and industry organisations. In response to the 2014 Victorian Governments call for comments on their Digital Economy initiative the Pearcey Foundation submitted a detailed recommendation including examples of similar institutes established around the world.


This website aims to maintain a historical record of great Australian ICT contributors as well as serve to highlight current activities and initiatives. An October 2015 article by Prof Justin Zobel illustrates the relevance of Dr Pearcey's efforts and is a typical record we aim to keep and promote to the nation.

The Pearcey Foundation thanks all those who have contributed to this site. We are always looking for volunteers, so please contact us if you are interested.

Special thanks to our webmaster Rick Harvey who has run and hosted this site for most of its history.

Medal 100

Benson Award History

This award originally started as the Pearcey National Award for Young Achievers. »» Read more...

News 100

Pearcey Media Awards for Journalistic Excellence

Back in the early 2000s, the Pearcey Foundation recognised a couple of journalists for consistent quality IT journalism that helped to promote Australia's IT capability and record. »» Read more...