Inspired by AngelFire’s gallery of photos for programming language inventors, here is a brief biography of the inventors of major programming languages still in use today:
|BASIC – John Kemeny & Thomas Kurtz
John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz designed the original BASIC programming language in 1964 at Dartmouth University to provide computer access to non-science students. Kemeny was a Hungarian-American mathematician, computer scientist, and educator. He served as President of Dartmouth College 1970–1981 and chaired the presidential commission that investigated the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979. Kurtz is an American computer scientist who was Professor of Mathematics and Director of Computer and Information Systems at Dartmouth. In 1994 he was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery.
|C – Dennis Ritchie
Dennis Ritchie is an American computer scientist who invented the C programming language in 1972 for Bell Telephone Labs. Ritchie is co-author of the definitive book on C, The C Programming Language (also known as K&R in reference to the authors Kernighan and Ritchie). Ritchie also co-developed the Unix operating system, received the Turing Award in 1983 and the National Medal of Technology in 1998. Ritchie was head of Lucent Technologies System Software Research Department when he retired in 2007.
|C++ – Bjarne Stroustrup
Bjarne Stroustrup is a Danish computer scientist and the Chair Professor of Computer Science at Texas A&M University. He invented C++ in 1979 (then called “C with Classes”) and wrote what many consider to be the the C++ bible, The C++ Programming Language.
|C# – Anders Hejlsberg
Anders Hejlsberg is a prominent Danish software engineer who currently works for Microsoft as the lead architect of the C# programming language. He also developed the J++ programming language and Windows Foundation Classes. Hejlsberg recently became a Microsoft Distinguished Engineer and Technical Fellow.
|COBOL – Grace Hopper
Rear Admiral Grace Hopper was an American computer scientist and United States Naval officer. A pioneer in the field, she was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I calculator, and she developed the first compiler for a computer programming language. COBOL was an extension of Hopper’s FLOW-MATIC language. It was Hopper’s idea that programs could be written in a language that was close to English rather than in machine code.
|Delphi – Anders Hejlsberg
Anders Hejlsberg is a prominent Danish software engineer who wrote a Pascal compiler for CP/M and MS-DOS that eventually became Borland Turbo Pascal, the most commercially successful Pascal compiler ever. In 1989, Hejlsberg joined Borland as chief architect for the replacement of Turbo Pascal, Delphi.
|FORTRAN – John Backus
John Backus was an American computer scientist who led the team that invented FORTRAN, the first widely used high-level programming language. He also invented the Backus-Naur form (BNF), the notation used to define formal language syntax. Backus received W.W. McDowell Award in 1967, National Medal of Science Award in 1975, and the ACM Turing Award in 1977.
|Java – James Gosling
James Gosling is a famous Canadian software developer who has been with Sun Microsystems since 1984 and is considered the father of the Java programming language, invented in 1991. Gosling did the original design of Java and implemented its original compiler and virtual machine.
|Perl – Larry Wall
Larry Wall is a programmer and author, best known for his creation of the Perl programming language in 1987. A linguist working as a systems administrator for NASA, Wall developed Perl as a general purpose Unix scripting language to make report processing easier. Wall is also the co-author of Programming Perl (often referred to as the Camel Book), the definitive resource for Perl programmers.
|PHP – Rasmus Lerdorf
Rasmus Lerdorf is a Danish-Greenlandic programmer and most notable as the creator of the PHP programming language. PHP began in 1994 as a set of Common Gateway Interface binaries that Lerdorf wrote in C to replace Perl scripts he had been using on his personal homepage. Lerdorf has been an Infrastructure Architecture Engineer at Yahoo! since 2002.
|Python – Guido van Rossum
Guido van Rossum is a Dutch programmer best known as the author of the Python programming language. Python started as a hobby project: a scripting language descendant of ABC that would appeal to Unix/C hackers. In the Python community, Van Rossum is known as a “Benevolent Dictator for Life.” Van Rossum currently works at Google on Python development.
|Ruby – Yukihiro Matsumoto
Yukihiro Matsumoto is a Japanese computer scientist and programmer best known as the chief designer of the Ruby programming language in the mid-1990s and its reference implementation, Matz’s Ruby Interpreter (MRI). Today, Matsumoto is the head of R&D at the Network Applied Communication Laboratory, an open source systems integrator company.
|Visual Basic – Alan Cooper
Alan Cooper is widely regarded as the father of Visual Basic. In 1987, Cooper developed ”Tripod,” an improved shell/desktop for the fledgling Windows operating system. Tripod became Microsoft’s “Ruby,” and Cooper led a team of engineers to deliver what ultimately became Visual Basic. (more) Today Cooper is an advocate of UI design, runs a design company and writes books about how to make software user interfaces more usable.
Article published on January 7, 2009
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