Feeds

A tribute to Ada's Jean Ichbiah

Programming pioneer

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
NSA SOURCE CODE LEAK: Information slurp tools to appear online
Now you can run your own intelligence agency
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?