Between 1945 and 1952 he studied at Balliol College, Oxford University. He received his Doctor of Philosophy, in mammalian genetics, in 1953.
During World World War II, Michie worked for the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, contributing to the effort to solve "Tunny," a German teleprinter cipher. In Spring 1943, however, looking for some way to contribute to the war effort, Michie instead attempted to enroll on a Japanese language course in Bedford for intelligence officers. On arrival, it transpired that the course was full, and instead he trained in cryptography, displaying a natural aptitude for the subject.
Six weeks later, he was recruited to Bletchley Park and was assigned to the "Testery," a section which tackled a German teleprinter cipher.
During his time at Bletchley Park he worked with Alan Turing, Max Newman and Jack Good. In 1960, he developed the Machine Educable Noughts And Crosses Engine (MENACE), one of the first programs capable of learning to play a perfect game of Tic-Tac-Toe.
Since computers were not readily available at this time, Michie implemented his program with about 300 matchboxes, each representing a unique board state. Each matchbox was filled with coloured beads, each representing a different move in that board state.
The program was trained by playing hundreds of games and updating the quantities of beads in each matchbox depending on the outcome of each game.
Michie was director of the University of Edinburgh"s Department of Machine Intelligence and Perception (previously the Experimental Programming Unit) from its establishment in 1965. The machine intelligence unit predated the university"s computer science unit He remained at Edinburgh until 1985, when he left to found The Turing Institute in Glasgow.
Active in the research community into his eighties, he devoted the last decade of his life to the United Kingdom charity The Human Computer Learning Foundation, and worked with Stephen Muggleton, Claude Sammut, Richard Wheeler, and others on natural language systems and theories of intelligence.
Michie invented the memoisation technique. He was involved in many different groups during his lifetime.
He was a:
Fellow of the British Computer Society;
Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh;
Honorary Fellow of the American National Academy of Sciences;
Honorary Fellow of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences.
(Book by Michie, D.)
Member Josef Stefan Institute, Slovenia, 1995. Fellow Zoological Society, Royal Society Edinburgh, British Computer Society.
Married Zena Marguerite Davis. 1 son, Christopher; Married Anne McLaren, 1952 (divorced 1959). Children: Susan Fiona, Jonathan Mark, Caroline Ruth.
Married Jean Elizabeth Hayes, March 1, 1971.