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Biographies: ELOGE: Adriaan van Wijngaarden (1916-1987) Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129622D
Original Publication Date: 1989-Jun-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06
Document File: 19 page(s) / 73K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Heinz Zemanek: AUTHOR [+2]


IBM Fellow Professor at University of Technology Veinna, Austria Introduction

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

Biographies: ELOGE: Adriaan van Wijngaarden (1916-1987)

Heinz Zemanek

IBM Fellow Professor at University of Technology Veinna, Austria Introduction

On 7 February 1987 the European information processing community lost a key figure: Professor Adriaan van Wijngaarden, the Dutch Computer pioneer and promoter of programming languages. On the occasion of his retirement from the Amsterdam Mathematisch Centrum, IFIP and the Centre organized an international symposium on Algorithmic Languages (de Bakker & van Vliet, eds. 1981) held during October 1981 as a tribute to the work done by van Wijngaarden in his roles as director of the Mathematisch Centrum and long term IFIP representative. I was invited to give the first paper, the subject of which was to be Professor van Wijngaarden and his role in IFIP. The following is an edited version of that paper.

As the first paragraph points out, I limited myself to his relationships with IFIP and, even then, it details only my own personal dealings with him. The account, however, still covers the most important aspects of his life and those facets which I believe will be of interest to readers of the Annals. In order to round out the biographical information, the rest of this introduction is actually a summary of the eulogy given by A. Verrijn-Stuart (1987) in the IFIP Newsletter.

Born on November 2, 1916, Adriaan van Wijngaarden was educated as a mechanical engineer at the Technical University of Delft, where he obtained his Ph.D. He joined the Mathematical Centre on 1 January 1947, later becoming its director, and remained with them until he retired in 1981.

His first assignment was to tour the U.K. and the U.S.A. in an attempt to determine to what extent the newly invented automatic calculating machine would influence the work of the Centre. Upon his return he convinced the Centre's management that computing power is essential to applied mathematics and stimulating to the emerging discipline of computer science. In those days there was no other way to acquire such power other than building one's own machine. The result, commissioned in 1952, was ARRA. The group that built this machine contained people such as G. A. Blaauw, E. W. Dijkstra, and W. L. van der Poel, themselves to become trailblazers in the world of computing. After constructing ARRA the group went on to build ARMAC and finally the fully transistorized X1.

After his retirement, Professor van Wijngaarden lived more or less hidden in his home, following computer developments closely but only occasionally appearing at an event. His declining health kept him ever more closely tied to his home; he died on Feb. 7, 1987.

Of the many honors he received, election to the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences in 1959, election as the first Honorary Member of the Dutch Computer Soc...