Software Development investigate

Vale John McCarthy: Lisp creator and AI pioneer

The computing world lost another giant overnight with the death of John McCarthy, the creator of Lisp and one of the pioneers of artificial intelligence, at age 84.

McCarthy coined the term "Artificial Intelligence" in 1955, with his desire for an algebraic list processing language for AI taking shape in the form of Lisp in 1958. Following this, McCarthy developed garbage collection for Lisp in 1959. McCarthy proposed computer time-sharing in a speech in 1961.

He was the winner of the Turing Award, Benjamin Franklin Medal and was also inducted into the IEEE's Intelligent Systems Hall of Fame in August.

The news comes on the back of fellow Turing Award winner, C creator and Unix co-creator Dennis Ritchie who passed away earlier this month.

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Some would say that it is a long way from software engineering to journalism, others would correctly argue that it is a mere 10 metres according to the floor plan.During his first five years with CBS Interactive, Chris started his journalistic advent...

4 comments
NickNielsen
NickNielsen

When I learned of the deaths of Bill Shockley, Bob Noyce, Jack Kilby, Al Gross, Dave Packard, and Bill Hewlitt. 'Course, I'm a hardware guy...

Mark Miller
Mark Miller

+1 for bringing up the fact that McCarthy created the idea of time sharing. This has largely been forgotten. Most remember him for Lisp and creating the field of AI. I'd just add that he and a team he assembled modified an IBM 704 mainframe to actually do time sharing, and demonstrated it at MIT around 1959 or 60. He came up with the idea in 1957, but had to wait on IBM to deliver a critical part to modify the 704 so it could do what he wanted. I've reflected on the fact that in the past decade we've had this idea of software as a service, and that McCarthy's idea was a lot like this, though he thought it would take on a different form. He didn't anticipate the internet. Instead he thought of time-sharing systems as regional "islands" on which people would rent computer time. In the comments after the article at TechCrunch on his death, one commenter said that McCarthy should be credited for inventing cloud computing. I don't think that's historically accurate. Cloud computing fundamentally involves the internet, with distributed processing and storage. The idea of distributed processing over a network didn't come along until the mid-1960s. From my research, McCarthy had left behind the idea of time sharing, and had devoted his full efforts to AI research at Stanford before then.

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

are so mature that their creators are only historical, not personal. We seem to be losing the founders and it takes ones breath away...