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This Web site celebrates the life and work of one of the most important, yet unsung, heroes of the Software Industry, Dr. Ralph E. Griswold.

My Internal Memo

Date:  December 18, 2006

Subject:  The Passing of a real Software Industry Hero

If my clothing (T-shirt) has slipped below the corporate dress code this week, it is with good reason. The only Giant in the Software Industry that I could call a personal friend died recently, and I only learned of it last Thursday night.

I bought this T-shirt from him personally at one of two conferences I attended where his work was the focus of the conference. The T-shirt celebrates the programming language that he designed, developed and distributed for over 20 years, until his retirement in 1995. It is from the cover of his first book/manual describing the programming language is everyday programmers’ terms.

His name is Ralph Griswold and the programming language is Icon. Previously, he created the SNOBOL series of programming languages that many of us learned about in Computer Science Programming Language courses in university in the 1970s and late 1960s.

If you haven’t heard of him or his programming languages, I’m not surprised, as he was a Man three decades ahead of his time. Today, Industry is just beginning to accept Open Source software. Ralph was passionate about it already in the 1960s, and has kept SNOBOL4 and Icon in the Public Domain from the very beginning.

With his widow’s permission, I have created (the beginnings of) a Web site to celebrate a man who deserves to be much better known:
http://www.ralphgriswold.com

After I’m retired*, I’ll also add material on his widow, who contributed so much to his work. I only received her permission late yesterday to name her, let alone talk about her, which I will do because her combination of Computing and Journalism skills is why Ralph was able to write so much excellent material during his life.


*January 5, 2007

Jon Pearkins