Kristen Nygaard (August 27, 1926 – August 10, 2002) is internationally acknowledged as the co-inventor
with Ole-Johan Dahl of object-oriented programming and the
programming language Simula. He also was a pioneer of
participatory design and the “Scandinavian school of systems
All the major aspects of the object-oriented programming paradigm.
including class, subclass, inheritance, dynamic object creation, etc.,
originated with Simula. This paradigm has led to fundamental
changes in how information systems are designed, resulting in
reusable, reliable, scalable systems. Today, object-oriented
programming languages are widely used in programming diverse software
systems ranging from large-scale distributed systems to small,
Kristen is also the co-creator of other important modelling and computer
programming languages, including Delta (with Petter
Håndlykken and Erik Holbæk-Hansen), and Beta (with Bent Bruun
Kristensen, Ole Lehrmann Madsen and Birger Møller-Pedersen).
In addition to his academic accomplishments, Kristen was active in
Norwegian politics. In the late sixties, the Norwegian Iron and Metal
Workers Union contacted Kristen for help with new computing
technologies. Kristen and others developed courses and books about
information technologies specifically for the use by workers. His
involvement with the union resulted in the first
“data agreement“ between a union and a company. Core
elements from this agreement were later used to create Norwegian
legislation about Union rights with respect to introducton of new
technology in the workplace.
In the mid and late 1960s Kristen was a member of
the National Executive Committee of the Norwegian liberal party
(Venstre). From 1971 to 2001 Nygaard was a member of the
Norwegian Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet), and he was a
member of committees on research policies in that party. In August
1990 he took the chair of the campaign to keep Norway outside the
Common Market (that later became the European Union). Nygaard
insisted that the campaign was not against Europe, but against certain
political developments in the CM/EU, such as the Maastricht Agreement,
which Nygaard felt would threaten the Scandinavian welfare
This page is created as a place where Kristen's friends and
collegues from all over the world – both from acaedemia and from the
poltical field – can share their thoughts about him passing away.
Nils Harjo (Norway)
Takk for allt jeg lærte av deg og Johanna, den tiden jeg fikk
anledning til å bo sammen med dere. Det har vært til
uvurderlig hjelp for meg opp gjennom årene. Spesiellt det at en
alltid skal vurdere flere alternativer til en løsning på
et problem. Jeg vil kondolere til Marius, Elisabeth, Johan og
Johanna. En skal lete lenge etter et slikt demokratisk og åpent
hjem, med meninger som brytes, formuleres og fastsettes.
Vil også sende mine kondolanser fra Sriwimol, min kone. Hun
ble glad i dere.
Mvh. Nils Harjo
Christiane Floyd (Germany)
I have just returned from an extended vacation and learned about
Kristen's death with deep regret.
Since I first visited him in 1982, I had numerous personal
encounters with him in different contexts and feel deeply connected to
him. I certainly consider him not only an outstanding personality in
science and politics - and thus an important ally - but also a
personal friend capable of a great deal of human warmth.
The variety of his interests and the level of his achievements in
different fields was fascinating. What impressed me most, perhaps, was
his sincerity and perseverance in pursuing the concerns that mattered to
I will remember him with love and yes, I will miss him.
— Christiane Floyd
José Leopoldo Nhampossa (Mozambique)
A memoria to Professor Kristen Nygaard.
One of the reasons I decided to join the University of Oslo for my
PhD studies was essentially the fact that I came to know that the
founder of SYSTEMARBEID GROUP is actually the father of Object
Oriented Programming (OOP) technique.
Por isso foi com uma profunda magoa e consternação que
recebi a notícia do seu desaparecimento físico.
Ele morreu fisicamente mas deixou seus ensinamentos e ideais
que jamais desaparecerão da Terra e da sociedade.
Oxalá Deus e a Ciências protejam a sua ALMA.
…Que a sua ALMA descanse em PAZ…
Berit Moen (Norway)
tusen takk for at jeg fikk lære deg å kjenne, i det politiske liv og
kampen mot EU. Du var alltid rakrygget, raus, hjertlig, kunnskapsrik,
kunnskaper du velvellig delte med andre uansett ståsted i samfunnet.
Det var oppmuntrende å jobbe med deg, og det blir et stort savn.
«Rørsla» er blitt fattigere.
Vennlig hilsen Berit Moen
rOOts 2003 organizing committee (Norway)
The organizing committee of rOOts 2003 remembers fondly the
kindness of Kristen Nygaard who gave the opening keynote of our first
conference in April 2000. He challenged all of us to look to the
future with special attention to education. We were grateful for his
insights, and share in the sorry of his family, friends and
Yann-Gaël Guéhéneuc (France)
I only met Kristen Nygaard a couple of times, what an impression he left on me!
His stories, his memories, his knowledge, his experience, he shared freely with everybody.
The last time I met with him, he was setting up an international
network of people to teach object-oriented programming in a new and
better way to anybody all around the world: I think this tells what
Kristen was, not only one of the greatest computer-scientist ever, but
a true Humanist.
His disappearance is tragic for his family and for all of us.
Ian Benson (UK)
The top 10 things I learnt from Kristen:
- The world language is English as spoken by foreigners
- Time is a resource
- Family pride cannot be denied
- Legislation is national culture at work
- Peer acclaim costs plenty
- History motivates
- Storytelling teaches
- Mathematics is a means of expression
- SIMULA is applied mathematics
- To program is to understand
Pål Sørgaard (Norway)
I had the great pleasure to meet Kristen almost 20 years ago while
I was still a student doing my Master's thesis in the Danish MARS
project. Kristen was chairman of the reference group, and was an
enourmously active contributor to the discussions in the meetings. He
immediately took me seriously, and I had many exiting meetings with
him and Johanna since. Kristen was like that to students and young
researchers, and thus became an inspirator for very many
Kristen's philosophy of programming was and is dear to me. It was
theory with a strong link to practice. He was the one who explained
object-orientation in a way so that I grasped the link between
object-oriented programming and object-oriented systems
development. This had a strong impact on my own research and teaching.
His political work and his professional work were closely related. He
was not a researcher who just happened to be politically engaged. He
was seriously engaged in a series of issues that, to him, were close
interconnected. He used, for example, experiences from work with trade
unions in discussions about the Beta language.
I will miss Kristen.
Heinz Züllighoven (Germany)
At one of my first visits to the IRIS conferences I met Kristen and I
was deeply impressed. Here was one of the pioneers of object-oriented
programming sparkling with engergy but always with a big heart and
really caring about people. From that time on, we frequently met and we
became friends. For me, he is in many ways the archetype of the
Scandinavian school of information technology - combining brilliant
technical ideas with a clear political position into a human-centered
When I teach object-oriented development to my students, I always talk
about Kristen as the "instance" of what I think a software engineer
should be - and I will continue to do so.
Andreas Munk-Madsen (Denmark)
I had the fortune of having Kristen Nygaard as my professor in the
70es when I studied at Aarhus University and wrote my master's
In those days many university teachers could not answer the
question, "why?" "You study math 1 in order to understand math 2!" was
the common level of wisdom. Kristen was different. He did everything
on purpose, and he could explain the reasons for what he did. In great
Kristen was a rare combination of scientist and politician. A
scientific activist with an extreme talent for involving people in his
projects. He wanted results, and he defined results as changes in
people's practice, not as reports or papers.
The two areas for which he is best known - object oriented programming
and defending Norwegian independence from the European Union - may
seem to have little relation to each other. But there is a common
theme connecting all of Kristens activities: Empowering people!
Between programming and politics we find his work with the trade
unions and his work on system description languages and methods. To
Kristen, Simula was not just a better way of programming: It was a way
of understanding the world in order to change it. You will forever
understand the importance of a domain model, if you have heard Kristen
explain, why the model of the Post Office (in Simula BEGIN) should
include a door!
So much of Kristen still lives in my memory, that quite often I ask
the question, “What would Kristen say to this situation?”
And I can easily imagine him answering.
Kristine Mollø-Christensen (Norway)
«Selvfølgelig stiller jeg opp for fylkeslaget!»
I 1995 som nyslått fylkesleder i Oslo med økonomisk gjeld og en
organisasjon splittet i synet på om Nei til EU skulle fortsette eller
ikke, hadde jeg tatt mot til meg og ringt Kristen Nygaard.
Forespørselen gjaldt et foredrag for medlemmene i Oslo Nei til EU. Og
Kristen sa altså ja som han gjorde så mange ganger også etter 1994.
Han har snakket på små og store møter avholdt av lokallag og fylkeslag
i Oslo og ellers i landet.
Mange har skrevet og snakket om hans strategi og arbeid opp mot
folkeavstemningen i 94. Jeg vil si litt om det arbeidet han gjorde
etterpå. Kristen Nygaard mente altså at Nei til EU burde fortsette
som organisasjon også etter folkeavstemningen. Han fortsatte å trekke
linjer mellom den norske samfunnsutviklingen og utviklingen i EU. Han
delte grovt opp de politiske aktørene i Norge mellom de som trodde på
markedet og de som ikke gjorde det. Den oppdelingen har vært nyttig
både i faglig arbeid og arbeid mot privatisering og for
velferdsstaten. For noen år tilbake ble det opprettet et
strategiutvalg som skulle arbeide frem mot kommende landsmøte - med
Kristen som leder. Ved siden av å være svært lærerikt for oss andre
som satt der - førte forslag fra utvalget til at kamp mot den
økonomiske globaliseringen ble en del av Nei til EUs arbeidsgrunnlag i
og med at det ble en del av "bærebjelkene". Det har siden 1997 vært
med på å prege Nei til EUs arbeid og dermed gjort Nei til EU til en
del av den verdensomfattende anti-globaliseringsbevegelsen.
Kristen satt i Rådet fra og med 1995. Rådet i Nei til EU består av
fylkesrepresentanter og direktevalgte rådsmedlemmer. Han var like
engasjert i fylkeslagenes "trivielle" organisasjonssaker som de store
politiske sakene. Går en gjennom protokollene for hvem som hadde
ordet under de forskjellige sakene, vil en se Kristens i de
Jeg har hatt gleden av å overrekke Kristen Nygaard blomster for
avholdte foredrag en rekke ganger. Best husker jeg 5 årsjubileet for
folkeavstemningen i 1998 - jeg er glad for at vi fikk takket ham
skikkelig fra organisasjonen for det arbeidet han nedla i årene frem
Slik husker jeg Kristen Nygaard mest: i samtale med folk han kjente
og ikke kjente på møter og på julemarkedet til Oslo Nei til EU. Det
er veldig trist at han er borte.
Fylkesleder i Oslo Nei til EU 1995 - 1997 og 1999 - mars 2002.
Leder av Representantskapet i Oslo Nei til EU
Ron Kerr (UK)
It is 30 years since I left the SIMULA implementation group in Oslo
to return to the UK. Although I have met Kristen on only a
comparatively small number of occasions since then, it is a measure of
the profound impact he, Ole-Johan and the work in which I was engaged
have had on me that I am still stunned. Although the fruits of their
efforts remain as their legacy to our profession, their deaths feel
like a personal shutter coming down on part of my life.
Ron Kerr (Co-implementor: UNIVAC SIMULA)
Bjørn Eiring (Norway)
Kristen Nygaard til minne.
Vennlighet, klokskap og lun humor var det som datt inn i
«tenkebobla» mi kort tid etter jeg fikk høre at
Kristen var gått bort. Jeg hadde gleden av å snakke med
han og høre hans foredrag på flere møter i regi av
NtEU, og det var ikke vanskelig å føle det genuine i hans
engasjement for EU-problematikken. Viktigheten av å holde
sammen i landet vårt, og ikke la oss lure inn i
markedsmekanikkenes mange (kortsiktige) tenkemåter ble sterkt
Det er trist at Kristen er gått bort, men vi er takknemlig
for det han har gitt oss. Forøvrig er jeg viss på at han
fortsatt vil være med oss.
Fylkesleder i NtEU, Nordland
Jacques Berleur (Belgium)
The IFIP Community, and especially TC9 (Relationship between
Computers and Society) has benefited the wise advice of Kristen since
its first steps, mainly in the domain of the consequences of computers
on the quality of working life. His first warnings go back to the
second TC9 "Human Choice and Computers" Conference in Baden (Austria)
in 1979. He continued being supportive to our work for a long time.
We shall gratefully keep him in our thoughts.
International Federation Information Processing
Birger Møller-Pedersen (Norway)
My life changed dramatically when I as a student in my majoring
studies met Kristen and got him as tutor in 1975 in Aarhus. After the
final exam it changed even more dramatically (and also for my family),
when we moved to Oslo, in order for me to work with Kristen on the
design of the Beta programming language. Since then, working with
Kristen has been a long rewarding experience. I will miss the
telephone calls at almost any time of the day (and night) discussing
language design issues. My wife Kirsten was convinced that we were
crazy, especilly when the discussions turned from language concepts to
detailed syntax (semicolons, commas, etc). From Kristen we learned to
keep the ambition level high and to not compromise on quality.
My wife and I enjoyed also to have Kristen as part of our private
life, and we developed a friendship with both Kristen and Johanna. We
will remember numerous very animated meals and parties. He followed
our two children Kamilla and Kristine while they were growing up, and
to them Kristen was almost like a third grandfather. Kristen was
always very considerate. Being the main cause that we moved to
Norway. Kristen (with Johanna) presented to me at my recent 50th
birthday party a very fine edition of Collected Fairy-Tales
by Asbjørnsen og Moe, with a greetings text saying that
". . . as you most likely soon will become a Norwegian
grandfather, you may as well start practicing".
The world will be different without Kristen.
Ricardo Baeza-Yates (Chile)
I had the pleasure to meet Kristen and listen to his lectures when
I hosted his visit to Chile in 1997. He was so full of life that it is
difficult to believe that he is not with us any more. Perhaps the most
important thing about Kristen is that he never compromised with
society what he wanted to do and I admire the will and courage to do
The people that you met in Chile will never forget you.
Sten Henriksson (Sweden)
Kristen Nygaard considered his work on computers and democracy in
the workplace as important from a scientific point of view as his work
on Simula, both relating to ways of describing reality. I will
remember him as one of the few men of science who are ready to
shoulder their full responsibilities to society.
Eline Vedel (Norway)
Like many other I met Kristen as a student, and was strongly
affected by it. Our first meeting was in 1973, at the University of
Copenhagen, where I was an undergraduate majoring in computer
science. I was involved with various student groups trying to change
our curriculum to be more application oriented. Kristen quickly became
an active and invaluable support in this work. His youthful enthusiasm
combined with his academic standing helped us develop and get
acceptance for courses and dissertations that became part of the
emerging Scandinavian Approach. At the same time Kristen and I started
a friendship that has lasted ever since. Kristen was the main reason I
many years later, in 1981, moved to Oslo to start work on the
Norwegian Computing Centre. I still remember Kristen's introduction to
Norway and the Norwegians: «You should know that most Norwegians are
quite different from me. They are quite shy, and will need time just
to look you over before they actually speak to you. You should be
patient for at least for a couple of weeks. On the other hand, when
somebody finally approaches you, you may easily gain a friend for
life.» While Kristen was not shy, he was, like so many Norwegians,
very steadfast and loyal. Also, he and Johanna were among the most
hospitable and genuinely caring people I have met.
Dear Kristen. Thank you for your being you and for all support and
inspiration over the years.
Michael Kölling (Denmark)
I met Kristen the first and only time in late June 2002. He was
twice my age.
I cannot begin to describe the energy that he radiated. Here a man
who contributed a revolution to our field before I was born, and then
myself, trying to keep up with the speed and energy with which this
man's thoughts and ideas moved forward throughout our discussions. I
was (and still am) deeply impressed.
I am glad that I had the chance to meet Kristen, even if the
cooperation we discussed did not have a chance to come about.
University of Southern Denmark
Frieder Nake (Germany)
A professor, no matter what his field of specialization may be,
should stand up and speak clearly for the case he wants to progress.
Kristen Nygaard did just this. He was a professor, not so much an
He was the originator of the Scandinavian approach to software
development - an approach that requires immersion into human affairs,
sympathy for ordinary people's aspirations, opposition against the
ruling powers, and technical excellence at the same time. So many of
his Scandinavian students, and of his friends in the US and in Europe
have learned at least some of the great wisdom that he lived.
Kristen Nygaard stands out like a solid rock in proving that it is
possible to combine radical politics with technical innovation. How
many, in these days of opportunism, dare, like he did, to go straight
ahead pursuing their ideas? How many dare to speak for those who are
in need? So much is there to learn from him.
University of Bremen
Arne Wilhelm Theodorsen (Norway)
På 70-tallet, mens en radikal politisk vind blåste over både
fjorder og fjell i Kongeriket, var det ikke alltid like lett å forene
en interesse for databehandling (som det den gang het) med et politisk
engasjement. Og veldig ofte når man forsøkte seg med det, ble man som
ung og uerfaren student ofte avfeid med «manglende faglig
innsikt og erfaring» og andre kommentarer fra de som virkelig
kunne noe. Å treffe Kristen i en slik sammenheng og få kjennskap til
hans arbeid og ideer, var derfor en stor inspirasjon. For det første:
Å nærme seg datafag gjennom å lære SIMULA som det første
programmeringsspråk jeg behersket, var av svært stor verdi både der og
da, og ikke minst seinere. For det andre: Å se at en professor i faget
virkelig fokuserte «social impacts» som han gjorde (bl.a
gjennom Jern og Metall-prosjektet) gjorde at man følte at man ikke
trengte å stemme konservativt for å være interessert i datafag. Og for
det tredje: Hans åpne personlige væremåte gjorde det både spennende og
interessant å diskutere fag og sammenhengen mellom fag og
politikk. Seinere blei jeg godt kjent med Kristen gjennom arbeidet i
«Rådgivende gruppe for digital allemannsrett». Også her
det samme: Faglig styrke, politisk engasjement, åpen personlig
væremåte. Og samtidig sterk argumentasjon for sine egne synspunkte og
meninger. Sjøl om gruppa i hovedspørsmålene var nokså enige, var det
ikke fritt for at det var divergerende oppfatninger og sterke
diskusjoner om enkelte forhold og om hvordan disse skulle behandles og
presenteres utad. Og sjøl om synspunktene fra gruppas arbeid
dessverre ikke enda har fått gjennomslag hos politiske myndigheter,
ble det gjennom dette gjort et viktig arbeid som forhåpntligvis kan
lede til en bedre breibåndspolitikk i landet.
Det er dessverre langt fra Tromsø til Oslo. På tirsdag 20. august er
det spesiell langt. Og selv om jeg derfor ikke kan være tilstede, så
vil tankene denne dag gå til Kristen og den konstruktive rolle han har
adm. dir. NORUT Informasjonsteknologi
Inger Lytje (Denmark)
I was working and studying at Norsk Regnesentral during the year
1977-1978 and involved in the trade union project Fagorganiserte
Funksjonærer og Datateknologi in which Arne Pape was the project
leader. During this year I became familiar with Kristen Nygaard and
his ideas about the workers' democratic participation in developing
computer based systems for use in working life, together with his
ideas about knowledge as action. Kristin Nygaard has meant a lot to
me. His ideas about integrating scientific knowledge and the knowledge
of ordinary people should still be an ideal for us who work with
Inger Lytje, lektor
Susanne Bødker (Denmark)
Like many generations of students and young researchers in Norway,
Denmark, and the rest of the world, I have benefited greatly from
knowing Kristen. I have great memories of animated discussions over
bottles of good wine, and late night calls, when Kristen was at a
party, but calling to do what he did best - networking.
Kristen had an extensive network, which he generously shared with
others, in particular with young people. Many university professors
could learn from this!
Thank you, Kristen, for your generosity.
Michael Heng (Australia)
Though I do not know Kristen Nygaard personally, I have read his works
and deeply appreciate his contributiobns to computer science and
information systems. All of us who have benefitted from his
contributions mourn his passing away. May his soul rest in peace.
University of South Australia.
Yngve Sundblad (Sweden)
My first meeting with Kristen was in 1968 when he gave a short
course (together with Ole-Johan Dahl and Bjørn Myhrhaug) at KTH
in Stockholm on their ground breaking programming language invention,
Simula-67, with the basic concepts in what we now know as
object-oriented programming. Simula became the mother tongue for
programming for my generation of academic programmers especially in
Scandinavia but also in many other parts of the world.
Another great inspiration for many of us has been Kristen's pioneering
work with trade unions at workplaces already in the early 1970's
continued into the Scandinavian model of system design and into
current work on user certification of IT support at workplaces.
I have had the privilege to meet Kristen now and then in conference
contexts for more than three decades. One memorable meeting was at the
first Computer Supported Cooperative Work conference in Austin, Texas,
in 1986, another, recent, at the PDC conference in Malmö just 7 weeks
ago, where he, as always, participated intensely with insightful
remarks and warm private conversations.
Let us thank him for all this many-faceted inspiration and continue
work in his tradition.
Frank Emspak (USA)
I first met Kristen when I was a union officer at the General
Electric Complex centered in Lynn Massachusetts. I benefited a great
deal from his willingness to understand and support working people in
our efforts to design technology that supports skills rather than
destroys them. My wife and I were profoundly saddened when we heard
of Kristens' passing. On a more personal note, we thoroughly enjoyed
our dinner at his home in Oslo.
School for Workers
Kristin Røijen (Norway)
I wish to thank Kristen Nygaard for his thoughts, both in the area
of informatics and politics. He introduced the human element in
systems development, "the scandinavian approach". Hundreds of students
attended his lecture about his research the 5. and 6. of october 2000,
where he also were honoured by giving his name to a lecture room at
Hedmark College, Rena.
Many people are also aware of his spesial contribution to the
object oriented programming method, the SIMULA system.
I am very sorry to hear that Kristen Nygaard has died, as I know
that he was eager to bring about his newest political ideas. When he
was asked by his hosts in 2000 if he was going to write a new book in
Informatics, he answered that he really would like to write a book -
but it should be about the political movement that he was a part
of. He wanted to support the unity among people, to solve the most
difficult questions of our time.
Pertti Järvinen (Finland)
I worked with Kristen in IFIP / TC 9 / in some conferences, for example in Berlin 1986.
Let's remember his positive encouragement.
Espen Løken (Norway)
Jeg vil få takke Kristen hans store bidrag til å få LO tidlig på banen
når det gjelder innføring og utvikling av IT-systemer, og hans
engasjement overfor fagbevegelsen generelt gjennom mange år. Dessverre
resulterte ikke Kristens ideer på 1980-tallet om å bruke teknologien i
faglig nettverksbygging i noe, blant annet fordi det brøt med den
hierarkiske tankegangen som preget LO den gang.
Da jeg ved juletider satte i gang arbeidet med å skrive en
faglig-politisk bok om fagbevegelsen og Internett («Så samles vi på
nettet»), sendte jeg en forsiktig e-post til Kristen om han kunne gi
meg noe input i forbindelse med et prosjekt jeg hadde hørt om
(Unite). Det resulterte sporenstreks i at jeg fikk telefon og et
foredrag på to timer med gjennomgang av de prosjekter og engasjementer
for fagbevegelsen som han hadde vært med på fra slutten av
1960-tallet, med oppfordring om å ta kontakt hvis jeg ønsket mer. Jeg
vil gjerne få takke for hjelpen jeg fikk og det engasjementet du
viste, Kristen. Jeg håper og tror at dine visjoner om faglig
nettverksbygging nå kan bære frukter.
Joan Greenbaum (USA)
Kristen was a man who was a man of action. He was so full of ideas
and the energy to make them happen. He never tired of battling any
and all forces of the status quo - always with wonderful arguments and
rooms full of supporters. Whether it was coalition building for
worker control of technology, labor union involvement in technical
design, opposition to the European Union, or the mechanics of
objected-oriented programming, Kristen was there; and he brought
reinforcements - more and more young people, students, scholars, and
activists, to become involved in the cause.
In 1978 he came to the U. S. and rounded me up along with a few others
(I remember David Noble and Phil Kraft) and dragged us off (one did
not say 'no' to Kristen) to a meeting at MIT in Boston. It was my
introduction to Kristen and to the monumental amount of work he put in
to making social and technical change possible. He found us because
we were people interested in participatory involvement of workers in
technology in the workplace. His ideas meshed with ours, but also
took us by leaps and bounds beyond where our imaginations allowed us
to wander. In typical Kristen fashion the real discussions occurred
when he took us off to a dinner of Peking Duck in Cambridge, and
taught us not only about the Norwegian Iron and Metal Workers project,
but also everything about eating Duck in a Chinese restaurant.
I had the privilege of introducing Kristen in June where he gave the
Opening Remarks at the Participatory Design Conference in Malmö,
Sweden. His talk was a brilliant, funny, charming half-hour of
"advice to young scholars". He had the whole world in his hands.
Along with our hearts and our minds. Kristen, we will miss you
terribly, but as you would remind us, you are with us in our actions.
I promise as a first small action to find and record the introduction
I gave for Kristen, and then to help work with others to locate and
weave together his legacy of written and spoken remarks so that others
can be reminded of his world of beliefs and actions.
Horst Oberquelle (Germany)
I have met Kristen several times since my stay as a guest professor
at DAIMI, Aarhus University in 1985/6. He was our guest at Hamburg
University and he was a guest in my house. I met him the last time at
the sd&m conference with all the software pioneers at Bonn in June
2001. We talked to each other intensively at the conference dinner,
sitting at the same table. In my mind he is still sitting close to me.
I was inspired by his work on object-oriented programming and on
participatory systems development (I consider him to be the father of
the "Scandinavian School" of Human-Computer Interaction.) and I was
impressed by his visions, humor, rigidity, political engagement and
We have lost a pioneer and visionary of informatics and a good
Luca Cernuzzi (Paraguay)
I knew Prof. Nygaard and his wife Johanna in Asunción - Paraguay, in 1997
when he visited our Department for some lectures.
I think it was the best course I take after my formal studies. I
found Kristen a marvellous scientist and educator. I was touched from
the unitary view of his profession and his life that take into account
all the factors.
Up to know we have been in touch, also for his interest in Paraguayan
music I think, and he invited me to participate of the COOL project.
Really I will miss him and I am very sad for Johanna.
Sincerely to all,
Alan Kay (USA)
It seems impossible that both of these great men could have died
within a few weeks of each other. I did not know Dahl well. He was a
very quiet man and looked at things very differently than I. But I was
a close friend, even a kind of soul mate, to Kristen. I'll never
forget when I met both of them. It was during the first HOPL. On the
way to the conference Dahl and Tony Hoare stopped by PARC to visit,
and I gave them a demo of Smalltalk. Neither understood a word I said.
Needless to say, I was crushed. It was seeing in 1966 the first Simula
after seeing Sketchpad that catalysed my earliest biologically
oriented ideas about objects.
After the HOPL conference, Kristen stopped by and I gave him the
same demo. What a difference! He not only understood everything I
said, but often told me what I was going to show him next. He had been
thinking about further steps and he was completely thrilled to see
many of these ideas already in Smalltalk. We were great friends from
that day onwards. I have given many thousands of demos in the last 40
years, but that was the one that meant the most to me.
Kristen, we miss you terribly.
Sincerely to all,
Sophia Drossopoulou (UK)
The first programming language I ever used (as an undergraduate, in
1973 at the University of Karlsruhe) was Simula-67. I did not hear the
word "object oriented" then, and I only met object orientation again
in 1989, when I studied Smalltalk. Nevertheless, object-oriented
languages became my main research interest.
I met Kristen at ECOOP'02, and thoroughly enjoyed his long and so
very funny after dinner speech, with allusions to academics' life,
natural languages and Europe.
— Sophia Drossopoulou
Ole Lehrmann Madsen (Denmark)
I have worked closely with Kristen for more than 25 years - he is
definitely the person that have had most influence on my professional
life. From him I learned what OO and informatics (as he called it) was
all about. We have spend numerous hours, days and nights discussing
everything from the big issues to tiny details of syntax - the former
we usually agreed on, the latter we were fighting to the last
minute. Kristen was always eager to work so there was never such a
thing as an early bed-time.
You cannot work with Kristen unless he becomes an integrated part
of your personal life. From the very beginning he has been a close
friend of my family - he was never in Aarhus without spending en
enjoyable evening with my wife Marianne and I. He has followed closely
our children, Anne Sofie and Chistian since they were born - they
considered him part of the family.
It was unthinkable being in Oslo without visiting Kristen and
Johanna and in this way Marianne and I developed the same kind of
friendship with Johanna. We are certainly happy that we had some
enjoyable days with Johanna and Kristen at ECOOP in Malaga in June.
Kristen was a father and mentor in almost all aspects of life. We
will certainly miss him.
Peter H. Froehlich (USA)
I only met Prof. Nygaard once, at the Joint Modular Languages
Conference in Zürich, Switzerland in September 2000. I had, of course,
read a number of his writings before that conference, and they had
certainly influenced my view of programming. But when after my
conference talk he actually agreed with my (lowly?) graduate student
opinion – which was (rightly!) challenged by a number of conference
participants – I was finally convinced that having an opinion that is
not in the mainstream is okay, and that you should stand up for your
ideas in the face of adversity. For that I will always be indebted to
Prof. Nygaard. I feel sad that he won't be able to agree (or even
disagree) with me on another weird idea in the future.
Kent Beck (USA)
Standing next to Kristen you always felt small, not just in stature
(though of course that) but intellectually. I don't mean this in a bad
way, as if you felt less than you were, but in the sense that you wanted
to be intellectually broader, deeper, more courageous, to have greater
integrity and heart in your thinking. You would never measure up, that
was okay, but you could certainly do better.
I remember going to a party at Kristen's house at Stanford when he
was ready to go back to Norway. He had smuggled in all manner of
Norwegian goodies. He took me aside confidentially.
"The Swedes," he sneered, "have a disgusting dish they make by burying
trout in a barrel. After months they skim the scum off the top and eat
the unspeakable slime that is left. Here, try some of this."
"That is the most disgusting thing I've ever put in my mouth," I
said (you definitely weren't going to refuse an offer from Kristen.)
"In Norway we make it with salmon."
If I count the hours I spent with Kristen it is some ridiculously
low number, like 20 or 40. The impact he had on my life can in no way
be measured by such numbers. We would have to invent a whole new kind
of number to measure how much I changed because of him. My heart cries
for the loss for his family and the loss for our profession.
Erik Frøkjær (Denmark)
Mange tak for din orientering om Kristen Nygaards pludselige død -
din meddelelse, hvor trist den end er, vækker i mig mange minder og
erindringer om denne mands brilliante, skarpt fremsynede og generøse
indsats i menneskelige og faglige sammenhænge. Tak skal du ha' Kristen
- og æret være dit minde.
De hjerteligste hilsner Erik