History of Inria
Robert Galley: from nuclear energy to computer science
A close friend of Michel Laudet, the Chairman of IRIA (the Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control), Robert Galley was a member of the Délégation à l'informatique, the French government body responsible for computer science. Invited to join IRIA's scientific council, he was entrusted with the task of guiding the activities of the newly created institute.
A graduate of the Ecole Centrale and the Ecole du Pétrole et des Moteurs, he joined the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) in 1955. This first-rate scientist made a major contribution to the success of the French nuclear programme. He was promoted to the head of the Délégation à l'Informatique in 1967 and set about implementing the Plan Calcul (the French government's plan to develop the new discipline of computer science). The newly created institute was placed under the authority of the Prime Minister. Robert Galley was appointed the chairman of its new board of directors. A hero of the Resistance, Robert Galley had only a distant connection with computer science. The talents he had shown as an organiser of an industrial strategy for atomic energy were enough to persuade the decision makers to give him the role. He left the post in 1968 to pursue a promising political career.