Yesterday IBM Research celebrated its 60th anniversary, quite a remarkable achievement when you think about the fate of other fabled labs such as Bell Labs and Xerox PARC. At Almaden, we had watched video from the main celebration at Yorktown.
Fred Brooks was one of the speakers at Yorktown, and he’s a very good speaker. A smooth delivery with a gentle Southern drawl, he talked about the lab in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s and had some wonderful anecdotes about Gene Amdahl (pioneer in mainframes), John Cocke (“father of RISC”), Ted Codd (inventor of the relational database), and Ken Iverson (inventor of the APL and J programming languages), among others.
We also had had a guest speaker of our own: David Patterson, Berkeley CS professor (Go Bears!), and president of the ACM. I liked what he had to say about what he considered to be the most pressing research needs in computer science: security, privacy, usability, and reliability (SPUR). He pointed out that the human experience is central to all four of these topics, and it’s refereshing to hear a person not in HCI recognize the importance of the human experience in computers.