The Many Dimensions of Kristen Nygaard, Creator of Object-Oriented Programming and the Scandinavian School of System Development

  • Drude Berntsen
  • Knut Elgsaas
  • Håvard Hegna
Conference paper
Part of the IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology book series (IFIPAICT, volume 325)


Professor Kristen Nygaard (1926-2002) was a multi-talented scientist whose achievements were amply honoured in his later years. For general readers of Computer Science history Nygaard will be recognized as the creator with Professor Ole-Johan Dahl of the SIMULA programming languages and object-oriented programming. But Nygaard also had a social and political engagement that over the years brought him from a liberal-democratic to a socialist position where solidarity and empowerment were the major chords. This paper gives a condensed descriptive tour of the life of this many-sided computer scientist with an emphasis on how the scientific and political sides of Nygaard worked hand in hand, leading to his active cooperation with the trade unions and making him a strong advocator of the Scandinavian School of System Development and Participatory Design.


Kristen Nygaard computer history object-oriented programming operations research participatory design The Norwegian Computing Center 


  1. 1.
    Bemer, B.: SIMULA, an ALGOL Offspring – First Object-Oriented Programming Language. In: Bob Bemer’s Computer History Vignettes, (last accessed January 12, 2010)
  2. 2.
    BIT (Nordisk Tidskrift for Informasjonsbehandling). Jan V. Garwick in Memoriam 29(3), 576 (1989)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Dahl, O.-J., Nygaard, K.: The Development of the Simula Languages. In: Wexelblat, R.L. (ed.) History of Programming Languages. Academic Press, New York (1981)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Elgsaas, K., Hegna, H.: The Norwegian Computing Center and the Univac 1107 (1963-1970). In: Bubenko, J., Impagliazzo, J., Sølvberg, A. (eds.) History of Nordic Computing: IFIP WG 9.7 First Working Conference on the History of Nordic Computing (HiNC1), Trondheim, Norway, June 16-18, 2003. Springer, New York (2005)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Elgsaas, K., Hegna, H.: The Development of Computer Policies in Government, Political Parties, and Trade Unions in Norway (1961-1983). In: Impagliazzo, J., Jãrvi, T., Paju, P. (eds.) History of Nordic Computing 2: IFIP WG 9.7 Second Working Conference on the History of Nordic Computing (HiNC2), Turku, Finland, August 21-23, 2007, Springer, Boston (2009)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Fjuk, A., Karahasanovic, A., Kaasbøll, J. (eds.): Comprehensive object-oriented Learning.: the Learner’s Perspective (COOL). Informing Science (2006), ISBN 8-392-23374-3Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Floyd, C., et al.: Out of Scandinavia: Alternative Approaches to Software Design and System Development. Human-Computer Interaction 4(4), 253–350 (1989)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Holbæk-Hanssen, E., Håndlykken, P., Nygaard, K.: System Description and the DELTA Language. In: DELTA Project Rep. No. 4, NCC Publ. No. 523. Norwegian Computing Center, Oslo (1975)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Holmevik, J.R.: Compiling Simula: A Historical Study of Technological Genesis. IEEE Annals of History of Computing 16(4), 25–37 (1994)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Kay, A.C.: Interview in The Norwegian Broadcasting System (NRK) P2, Oslo, Norway, December 26 (2002)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Krogdahl, S.: The Birth of Simula. In: Bubenko, J., Impagliazzo, J., Sølvberg, A. (eds.) History of Nordic Computing: IFIP WG 9.7 First Working Conference on the History of Nordic Computing (HiNC1), Trondheim, Norway, June 16-18, 2003. Springer, New York (2005)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Lehrmann Madsen, O., Møller-Pedersen, B., Nygaard, K.: Object-Oriented Programming in the BETA Programming Language. Addison-Wesley/ACM Press (1993), ISBN 0-201-62430-3Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Memorial Site for Kristen Nygaard, (last accessed January 21, 2010)
  14. 14.
    Møller-Pedersen, B., Haugen, Ø., Belina, F.: Object-Oriented SDL. Tele (Swedish Televerket’s technical journal) (January 1991)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Norsk matematisk tidsskrift, vol. 27 (1). Resultatet av premiekonkurransen for gymnasiaster, Oslo (1945)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Holden, L., Hegna, H. (eds.): Norsk Regnesentral 1952–2002 (The History of the Norwegian Computing Center 1952-2002), Norsk Regnesentral, Oslo (September 2002) (in Norwegian)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Nygaard, K., Bergo, O.T.: Planlegging, styring og databehandling. In: Grunnbok for fagbevegelsen, Planning, Control and Data Processing. Basic Reader for Trade Unions, 2nd edn. Tiden Norsk Forlag, Oslo (1973)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Nygaard, K.: The Iron and Metal Project. Trade Union Participation. In: Proceedings of the CREST Conference on Management Information Systems 1977. Cambridge University Press, London (1977)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Nygaard, K.: Program development as a social activity. In: Kugler, H.-J. (ed.) Proceedings from the IFIP 10th World Computer Congress, IFIP, Dublin, Ireland, September 1-5. Elsevier Science Publishers B.V, North Holland (1986)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Nygaard, K.: Those were the days. Or “Heroic times are here again? In: Opening lecture at The Information Systems Research in Scandinavia (IRIS) Conference (August 1996); Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems 8(2), 91-108 (1996)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Nygaard, K.: GOODS to Appear on the Stage. In: Aksit, M., Matsuoka, S. (eds.) ECOOP 1997. LNCS, vol. 1241, pp. 1–31. Springer, Heidelberg (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Nygaard, K.: Home page, (last accessed January 21, 2010)
  23. 23.
    Nygaard, M.: Notes on Kristen Nygaard’s early years and his political work. In: Böszörmenyi, L., Podlipnig, S. (eds.) People behind Informatics, in memory of Ole-Johan Dahl, Edsger W. Dijkstra, and Kristen Nygaard, Eigenverlag Universität, Klagenfurt, Germany (August 2003); Re-printed for 18th European Conference on Object-Oriented Programming, Oslo, Norway (2004)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Nygaard, K.: Profession Oriented Languages. In: Bøgh Andersen, P., Bratteteig, T. (eds.) SYDPOL Program working group 2: Computers and language at work: the relevance of language and language use in development of computer systems. Research Report Series, vol. 126, Institute of Computer Science. University of Oslo, Norway (1989)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Nygaard, K.: We are not against Europe, we are against Norwegian membership in the European Union. Lecture at “Europa Fluch oder Segen?” Münich (January 1995), (last accessed May 20, 2010)
  26. 26.
    UML, Unified Modelling Language, (last accessed January 24, 2010)

Copyright information

© IFIP 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Drude Berntsen
    • 1
  • Knut Elgsaas
    • 2
  • Håvard Hegna
    • 3
  1. 1.Director at the Norwegian Computing Center 1970-1989Norway
  2. 2.Researcher/Project Director at the Norwegian Computing Center 1963-1973Norway
  3. 3.Senior Research Scientist at the Norwegian Computing Center 1962-2006Norway

Personalised recommendations