computer science

Ivan Sutherland – Well, I Didn’t Know it was Hard

Ivan Sutherland – Well, I Didn’t Know it was Hard

On May 16, 1938, American computer scientist and internet pioneer Ivan Sutherland was born.  Sutherland has received the Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery in 1988 for his invention of Sketchpad, an early predecessor to the sort of graphical user interface that has become ubiquitous in personal computers today. Sketchpad could accept constraints and specified relationships among segments and arcs, including the diameter of arcs. It could draw both horizontal and vertical lines and…
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Do You Speak Polish… Or Maybe Reverse Polish?

Do You Speak Polish… Or Maybe Reverse Polish?

I guess almost nobody except a few mathematicians and computer scientists have ever heard of the Australian computer scientist Charles Leonard Hamblin, who passed away on May 14, 1985. And also most of my fellow computer scientists might not have heard of him. But, one of his major contributions to computer science was the introduction of the so-called Reverse Polish Notation. Does that ring a bell? Charles Leonard Hamblin – Early Years…
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Claude Shannon – the Father of Information Theory

Claude Shannon – the Father of Information Theory

On April 30, 1916, American mathematician, electrical engineer, and cryptographer Claude Elwood Shannon was born, the “father of information theory“, whose groundbreaking work ushered in the Digital Revolution. Of course Shannon is famous for having founded information theory with one landmark paper published in 1948. But he is also credited with founding both digital computer and digital circuit design theory in 1937, when, as a 21-year-old master’s student at MIT, he wrote a thesis…
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The Publication of the First RFC

The Publication of the First RFC

On April 7, 1969, Steve Crocker of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), published the first Request for Comment – RFC 1 – entitled “Host Software”. This might be considered as the beginning of the internet, because Request for Comments (RFC) are memoranda describing methods, behaviors, research, or innovations applicable to the working of the Internet and Internet-connected systems. Originally, Steve Crocker’s RFCs were intended to help record unofficial notes on the…
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Vannevar Bush and his Vision of the Memex Memory Extender

Vannevar Bush and his Vision of the Memex Memory Extender

On March 11, 1890, American engineer, inventor and science administrator Vannevar Bush was born. He is best known as as head of the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD) during World War II, through which almost all wartime military research and development was carried out, including initiation of the Manhattan Project. In computer science we know Vannevar Bush as the father of the Memex, an adjustable microfilm viewer with a…
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Nikolaus Wirth and PASCAL – Programming Language for the Masses

Nikolaus Wirth and PASCAL – Programming Language for the Masses

On February 15, 1934, Swiss computer scientist Niklaus Emil Wirth was born. He is best known for designing several programming languages, including Pascal, and for pioneering several classic topics in software engineering. If there is (or better ‘was’) one programming language that I really loved in the same way I hated it, then it was Pascal. On the one hand it was a rather easy to understand beginners programming language, but when…
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ENIAC – The First Computer Introduced Into Public

ENIAC – The First Computer Introduced Into Public

On February 13, 1946, J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly introduced Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, or ENIAC, the first general purpose, electronic computer. ENIAC was a giant step forward in computing technology. “Where a calculator like the ENIAC today is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and perhaps weigh only 1½ tons.” – Andrew Hamilton, “Brains that Click”,…
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Donald Knuth and the Art of Programming

Donald Knuth and the Art of Programming

On January 10, 1938, computer scientist Donald Knuth, developer of the seminal computer science textbooks ‘The Art of Computer Programming‘, was born. He is also widely known for his development of the TeX typesetting framework and the METAFONT font definition language. Actually, Donald Knuth is one of my personal heroes in computer science. The very day I started to study this subject, his textbooks had already become a sort of ‘holy bible’ when…
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Joseph Weizenbaum and his famous Eliza

Joseph Weizenbaum and his famous Eliza

On January 8, 1923, computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum, a pioneer in natural language processing and artificial intelligence, who later became one of artificial intelligence’s leading critics, was born. In 1966 he published a simple program named Eliza, which involved its users in a conversation that bore a striking resemblance to one with a psychologist. Early Years Joseph Weizenbaum was born in Berlin the son of master furrier Jechiel Weizenbaum and his wife…
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How the ARPANET became the Internet

How the ARPANET became the Internet

On January 1, 1983, the ARPANET as predecessor of today’s internet switched from NCP (Network Control Protocol) to the TCP/IP protocol, and the ARPANET then became one subnet of the early Internet. “There are some people who imagine that older adults don’t know how to use the internet. My immediate reaction is, “I’ve got news for you, we invented it.” — Vint Cerf, a “father of the internet,” quoted at age 73 in…
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