Feeds

A tribute to Ada's Jean Ichbiah

Programming pioneer

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration

black and white head and shoulders shot of Jean IchbiahObituary Second acts are rare in the computer industry but Jean Ichbiah, who died this week, managed it. Not only did he revolutionise software development for military computer systems with the Ada programming language, but he also devised a widely-used fast text-entry system for handheld computers.

Ichbiah was an atypical programming pioneer in many ways. At a time when it was becoming fashionable for programmers to wear their hair long and sport polo shirts and sandals, Ichbiah opted for neatly trimmed hair and stylish suits. I met him in 1979 just after his team at CII Honeywell Bull had won the Ada contract and, having no idea what he looked like, thought the smart, unassuming gentleman who greeted me in the lobby of a London Hotel was the public relations officer. Fortunately, I managed to conceal my surprise as it became evident that this was the man I had come to interview.

Given the complexity of negotiating with bureaucracy at the US Department of Defense (DoD), Ada's inventor needed to be a consummate diplomat and Ichbiah combined his undoubted technical skill with a master's degree in diplomacy. Even if he had realised I had mis-identified him, he was far too much of a gentleman to mention it.

Ada went on to change the way the US military - and the rest of NATO - built embedded computer systems. More importantly, in 10 years Ada usage is reckoned to have slashed the number of high level languages used by the DoD by a order of magnitude.

Ichbiah went on to found first Alsys - an Ada compiler development company - and, later, Textware - a company which develops text entry software for personal digital assistants (PDA).

He was awarded the French Légion d'Honneur and a Certificate of Distinguished Service from the DoD for his work on Ada. He was also a member of the French Academy of Sciences. ®

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think

More from The Register

next story
PEAK LANDFILL: Why tablet gloom is good news for Windows users
Sinofsky's hybrid strategy looks dafter than ever
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
POW! Apple smites Macbook Air EFI firmware update borkage
Fruity firm provides digital balm for furious fanbois
Fiendishly complex password app extension ships for iOS 8
Just slip it in, won't hurt a bit, 1Password makers urge devs
Mozilla keeps its Beard, hopes anti-gay marriage troubles are now over
Plenty on new CEO's todo list – starting with Firefox's slipping grasp
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?