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Roberto Busa (1913-2011), Pioneer of Computers for the Humanities

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Part of the IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology book series (volume 387)


Foreword: Roberto Busa, Societatis Iesu, passed away on August 9, 2011.

I will commit a memory of such a remarkable and unusual personality to a concise – as well as arbitrary – excerpt from his own writings.

Before doing that, I ought to recall the last opportunity I had to meet Father Busa.

In the springtime of 2008, at the outset of a conference, I had the pleasure to drive him in my small car to the airport whence he had to depart. (Aged 95, he still travelled unperturbed on his own!) After so many years of formally respectful friendship, I suddenly felt the need to loyally disclose to him my personal distance from religions, included the one he so vividly professed. He listened quietly, without any comment. Then, at the moment of departure, he unexpectedly said “It’s time we call us simply by name. Corrado – he smiled – you are free to call me father Roberto”.


  • Humanities
  • computing
  • informatician
  • life history

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© 2012 International Federation for Information Processing

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Bonfanti, C. (2012). Roberto Busa (1913-2011), Pioneer of Computers for the Humanities. In: Tatnall, A. (eds) Reflections on the History of Computing. IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology, vol 387. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

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  • Print ISBN: 978-3-642-33898-4

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