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Anecdotes: My Thoughts on Software Engineering in the Late 1960s Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129598D
Original Publication Date: 1988-Mar-31
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06
Document File: 1 page(s) / 14K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

David Gries: AUTHOR [+2]


Cornell University Ithaca, NY

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Copyright ©; 1989 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

Anecdotes: My Thoughts on Software Engineering in the Late 1960s

David Gries

Cornell University Ithaca, NY

Two years after I received my Ph.D., while an assistant professor at Stanford, I attended the NATO conference in Garmisch, Germany, where the software crisis was first openly discussed and the term software engineering was brought to the fore. I suppose I was invited because Fritz Bauer of Munich, Germany, one of the organizers of this eventful international conference, was my Ph.D. advisor. I was close to the youngest of the 50-odd participants.

I did my part. I listened attentively, I made a few very small points, and helped organize and run one of the workshops. Yet I felt small and unsure of myself. I wondered whether I would ever be able to speak on a level with these people (the ALGOL 60 people like Bauer, Naur, and Perlis, who gave a good keynote speech, and Samelson; Doug McIlroy, who spoke so eloquently about the need for components and reusable software; Dijkstra; Galler; Graham; Ross; and others).

After the conference, I helped transcribe the tapes of the sessions and organize notes for the editors of the proceedings, Peter Naur and Brian Randell. This gave me a nice perspective, for I could go over what the people said at leisure and ponder. I now read some of the comments made during the conference with a chuckle (e.g., "use high-level [languages] for research production, low-level for commercial production"). But as I look back at the proceedings, I am struck by the perceptive...