Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Monday, March 23, 2009

My Ada Lovelace Day Tribute: Dr Adele Goldberg

The 1987 Association for Computing Machinery Award Citation to Adele Goldberg, Daniel H.H. Ingalls, Jr. and Alan C. Kay reads, “For seminal contributions to object-oriented programming languages and related programming techniques. The theories of languages and development systems known as ‘Smalltalk’ laid the foundation for explorations in new software methodologies, graphical user interface designs, and forms of on-line assistance to the software development process.”

I was a member of the generation of programmers brought up on Fortran and assembler language. I suspect that Ada Lovelace herself would have felt perfectly at home in our now antiquated “programming environment” that involved large boxes of punched cards, keypunch machines, electromechanical sorters and lots of strange codes and noise. Thanks to Dr Goldberg, and of course other smart people like her, we got graphical interfaces (ok, I resisted them at first) and object-oriented languages with all of the outstanding expressive elegance that they brought with them. Although Smalltalk might not have had the market success that one could have hoped for, software features that it embodies live on in a language that I (and the people at Google and many other places) now use every day (Python).

Thank you, Adele Goldberg!

[Dr Goldberg's photo: Department of Computer Science, University of Maryland]