In the early 1980s, the Thornton telescope's drive system was modified to be computer-controlled. These were early days in computers, and (in retrospect) it may seem surprising that a BBC home computer (with second processor) was used. But, with some clever programming (from Keele's Computer Centre staff), this drive was very satisfactory; indeed, for a telescope of this size, this drive was very good indeed, and continued to be based on the BBC until the mid 1990s (see below). [Some of the final modifications to this software were made by Tim Naylor in the 1990s.]
The major work in this decade was by the Observatory Crew, to enhance the mount of the Thornton Telescope. The whole mount was stripped down, cleaned, and put back together again. Given that the telescope weighs a couple of tons, this was no mean effort. The completion of this project was celebrated by a "Star Party".
Sadly, the end of the 80s saw Dr Maddison leave Keele, to take up a position of Planetarium Director in Florida. He is remembered by many thousands in the area, who experienced his enthusiasm in the subject. And the continued presence of the Observatory as a national resource for those interested in optical astronomy is something he must be very proud of. But he still keeps in touch, and members of Keele undergraduate AstroSoc visited him in 2009 at his home in Florida (right).