Kristen Nygaard

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 development”.

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, personal applications.

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 state.

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.

A message from the family

Til alle Kristens venner og samarbeidspartnere.

En takk til dere alle for den sympatien som er vist, for blomstene som er sendt og de vakre ordene som er skrevet. Den trøsten og hjelpen vi har fått i dagene og ukene etter Kristens død har betydd mye for oss.

Fra Johanna,
Elizabeth, Marius og Johan og øvrige familie.


Nils Harjo (Norway)

timestampTue, 24 Sep 2002 07:38:15 GMT

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)

timestampTue, 17 Sep 2002 14:53:19 GMT

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 him.

I will remember him with love and yes, I will miss him.

— Christiane Floyd

José Leopoldo Nhampossa (Mozambique)

timestampThu, 5 Sep 2002 15:50:32 GMT

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…

— Leopoldo

Berit Moen (Norway)

timestampTue, 3 Sep 2002 09:11:04 GMT

Kjære Kristen,
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)

timestampFri, 30 Aug 2002 06:49:14 GMT

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 professional community.

Yann-Gaël Guéhéneuc (France)

timestampMon, 26 Aug 2002 14:04:07 GMT

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)

timestampSat, 24 Aug 2002 18:42:26

The top 10 things I learnt from Kristen:

  1. The world language is English as spoken by foreigners
  2. Time is a resource
  3. Family pride cannot be denied
  4. Legislation is national culture at work
  5. Peer acclaim costs plenty
  6. History motivates
  7. Storytelling teaches
  8. Mathematics is a means of expression
  9. SIMULA is applied mathematics
  10. To program is to understand

Pål Sørgaard (Norway)

timestampMon, 19 Aug 2002 19:01:12 GMT

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 researchers.

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)

timestampMon, 19 Aug 2002 15:23:33 GMT

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 approach.

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)

timestampMon, 19 Aug 2002 13:30:23 GMT

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 thesis.

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 length, sometimes.

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.

Andreas Munk-Madsen

Kristine Mollø-Christensen (Norway)

timestampMon, 19 Aug 2002 12:09:55 GMT

«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 forskjelligste spørsmål.

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 mot 1994.

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.

Kristine Mollø-Christensen
Fylkesleder i Oslo Nei til EU 1995 - 1997 og 1999 - mars 2002.
Leder av Representantskapet i Oslo Nei til EU

Ron Kerr (UK)

timestampMon, 19 Aug 2002 11:35:34 GMT

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)
Newcastle University

Bjørn Eiring (Norway)

timestampMon, 19 Aug 2002 10:51:36 GMT

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 fremhevet.

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.

Bjørn Eiring
Fylkesleder i NtEU, Nordland

Jacques Berleur (Belgium)

timestampMon, 19 Aug 2002 08:36:02 GMT

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.

Jacques Berleur
IFIP-TC9 Chair
International Federation Information Processing

Birger Møller-Pedersen (Norway)

timestampSun, 18 Aug 2002 21:13:49 GMT

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)

timestampSun, 18 Aug 2002 14:54:26 GMT

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 that.

The people that you met in Chile will never forget you.

Ricardo Baeza-Yates

Sten Henriksson (Sweden)

timestampSun, 18 Aug 2002 12:59:53 GMT

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.

Sten Henriksson
Lund University

Eline Vedel (Norway)

timestampSat, 17 Aug 2002 11:57:22 GMT

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)

timestampFri, 16 Aug 2002 19:46:15 GMT

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.

Michael Kölling
University of Southern Denmark

Frieder Nake (Germany)

timestampFri, 16 Aug 2002 11:12:53 GMT

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 academic.

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.

Frieder Nake
University of Bremen

Arne Wilhelm Theodorsen (Norway)

timestampFri, 16 Aug 2002 10:07:16 GMT

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 spilt.

Arne-Wilhelm Theodorsen
adm. dir. NORUT Informasjonsteknologi

Inger Lytje (Denmark)

timestampFri, 16 Aug 2002 07:33:03 GMT

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 information technology.

Inger Lytje, lektor
Aalborg Universitet

Susanne Bødker (Denmark)

timestampThu, 15 Aug 2002 17:12:58 GMT

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.

Susanne Bødker
professor, dr.scient.

Michael Heng (Australia)

timestampThu, 15 Aug 2002 00:40:23 GMT

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.

Michael Heng
University of South Australia.

Yngve Sundblad (Sweden)

timestampWed, 14 Aug 2002 21:42:43 GMT

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.

Yngve Sundblad

Frank Emspak (USA)

timestampWed, 14 Aug 2002 17:57:00 GMT

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.

Frank Emspak
School for Workers
Madison, Wisoncsin

Kristin Røijen (Norway)

timestampWed, 14 Aug 2002 14:13:24 GMT

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.

Kristin R.

Pertti Järvinen (Finland)

timestampWed, 14 Aug 2002 12:38:44 GMT

I worked with Kristen in IFIP / TC 9 / in some conferences, for example in Berlin 1986.
Let's remember his positive encouragement.

Pertti J.

Espen Løken (Norway)

timestampWed, 14 Aug 2002 11:53:13 GMT

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.

Espen Løken

Joan Greenbaum (USA)

timestampTue, 14 Aug 2002 01:42:27 GMT

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)

timestampTue, 13 Aug 2002 19:27:15 GMT

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 friendliness.

We have lost a pioneer and visionary of informatics and a good friend.

Horst Oberquelle

Luca Cernuzzi (Paraguay)

timestampTue, 13 Aug 2002 17:21:54 GMT

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)

timestampTue, 13 Aug 2002 13:44:56 GMT

Friends —
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)

timestampTue, 13 Aug 2002 10:18:20 GMT

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)

timestampTue, 13 Aug 2002 08:34:59 GMT

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.

— olm

Peter H. Froehlich (USA)

timestampTue, 13 Aug 2002 07:12:10 GMT

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)

timestampMon, 12 Aug 2002 23:47:00 GMT

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)

timestampMon, 12 Aug 2002 07:18:34 GMT

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