Roger Tomlinson Biography, Life, Interesting Facts


Roger Tomlinson

Birthday :

November 17, 1933

Died On :

February 9, 2014

Birth Place :

Cambridge, England, United Kingdom

Zodiac Sign :


Roger Tomlinson was a British geographer known as the inventor of modern computerized geographic information system (GIS). Born on November 17, 1933, he is regarded as the father of GIS. His invention led to the technological development in satellite mapping and the global positioning system, GPS and further innovations like the Google Maps.

Early Life And Education

Roger Tomlinson was born on November 17, 1933, in Cambridge, England to Frank Tomlinson and Lily. As a civil servant, Frank served in the Royal Air Force as a pilot during the World War I.Roger Tomlinson also served his country in the World War II as an air-traffic controller. Roger Tomlinson grew up with much love for painting and dreamt of choosing that career path in future. Roger Tomlinson was a well-built man, and even though it was a great advantage, it also became a disadvantage to him as he wanted to join the Army as a pilot.

Roger Tomlinson was mandated to serve a three-year National in the military which Roger Tomlinson served from 1951 to 1954. However, his dream of joining the Royal Air Force proved futile due to his body size. This was because of his size unable him to fit in a jet with ejection seats hence had to join the ground base. After his service in the army, Roger Tomlinson enrolled at the University of Nottingham and later Acadia University for separate undergraduate study geography.

He gained a scholarship from the McGill University for his master’s degree in the glacial geomorphology of Labrador. He had his Doctoral thesis at the University College of London titled, The application of electronic computing methods and techniques to the storage, compilation, and assessment of mapped data.



After completing his education, Roger Tomlinson gained employment at the Spartan Air Services in Ottawa, Ontario as a manager of the computer mapping division in the 1960s. It was during his time here that he developed the idea of combining land mapping with new emerging computer technologies. This initiative he plans and directs the development of the Canada Geographic Information System being the world’s first computerized GIS. Roger Tomlinson also served as an assistant professor at Acadia. Roger Tomlinson also worked at the Department of Forestry and Rural Development as a consultant and later as the director of regional planning systems.

Roger Tomlinson also did several works for the government, the private sector, and non-profit organizations through his company Roger Tomlinson Associates Ltd, which had branches in Canada, Australia and the United States of America. For about 12 years, Roger Tomlinson served as the Chairman of the International Geographical Union of GIS Commission. In 1988, Roger Tomlinson was theChairman of the IGU Global Database Planning Project and also served as the President of the Canadian Association of Geographers


Awards And Honours

Roger Tomlinson received several awards and honors for his works. He was awarded James R. Anderson Medal of Honor for Applied Geography in 1995, Robert T. Aangeenbrug Distinguished Career Award in 2005, GIS World Lifetime Achievement Award for a lifetime of work with GIS, 1996, the Alexander Graham Bell Medal of the National Geographic Society among several others.


Personal Life

Roger Tomlinson was married twice first to Jocelyn that ended in divorce. He then married Lila Blanchard, and that lasted for 45 years. Roger Tomlinson had three children and four grandchildren. On February 9, 2014, he suffered a heart attack and died at age 80.

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