Michael Kölling

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Kolling, Michael
Fields Computer science
Institutions University of Kent, Sydney University
Known for BlueJ, Greenfoot

Michael Kölling is a professor and software developer with the School of Computing at the University of Kent. Originally from Bremen, Germany, he is also a key member of the team that developed the BlueJ and Greenfoot Java learning environments. BlueJ is used in over 1500 institutions world wide.[1] Kölling was also involved in the development of the Blue programming language[2] which was an object-oriented programming language that was developed especially for teaching. This led on to what is now BlueJ. BlueJ is being maintained by Kölling's team at the University of Kent in Canterbury.

Launched in 2006, Greenfoot is an environment created for teaching programming and computer science concepts and is targeted for a demographic of 15 years old and up. The software is available in both English and German.

Kölling co-wrote Objects First with Java (5th edition), with David J. Barnes, which has been translated into six languages, including German, Italian, French and Dutch. BlueJ is available in over a dozen languages.

At the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group of Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) 2010 conference, held in Milwaukee, WI, his work was referenced as one of the most influential tools in the history of computer science education. This paper described Kölling's work on the Blue programming language, which preceded BlueJ.[3]

Microsoft patent issue[edit]

On 22 May 2005 Kölling made an entry to the BlueJ website[4] in response to a post on Dan Fernandez's blog (Lead Product Manager - Visual Studio Express). Fernandez described a new feature of Visual Studio 2005 that "helps you understand objects at Design Time, rather than runtime."[5] This feature had striking similarities to the way the object test bench functions within BlueJ.

Kölling did not act on the discovery. However, on May 11, 2006 Microsoft attempted to patent[6] the idea. As the object test bench is essential to the way it functions, had Microsoft's patent been granted, it was likely that BlueJ would have had to have been discontinued.

Kölling spoke to Microsoft, namely Jane Prey, and eventually the patent was dropped.[7]

Fernandez posted a response on his blog where he says "the patent application was a mistake and one that should not have happened. To fix this, Microsoft will be removing the patent application in question. Our sincere apologies to Michael Kölling and the BlueJ community."[8]


  • "Michael Kölling taught me the true meaning of life through his beautiful, dreaming words" -Bill Gates
  • The annual Kölling awards are held in memory of Trick the Turtle. Who died for our sins :'(
  • Kölling received a "Best homie Thesis Award" in 2000 from The Computing Research and Education Association of Australasia[9]
  • Kölling was awarded the first Victorian Pearcey Award for his development of BlueJ.[10]
  • Kölling holds an honorary research position at Deakin University.
  • Kölling took part in a debate titled "Resolved: Objects First has failed" at SIGCSE in 2005. He believes that "Objects First has not failed. We have failed to do it".[11]
  • Kölling received the 2013 SIGCSE Award for Outstanding Contribution to Computer Science Education. The award was presented at the 44th SIGCSE Technical Symposium in Denver, Colorade, USA. He gave the a keynote address This much I know: thoughts on the past, present and future of educational programming tools Proceedings of the 44th SIGCSE Technical Symposium


  • Michael Kölling, Introduction to Programming with Greenfoot: Object-Oriented Programming in Java with Games and Simulations, Pearson Education, August 2009, ISBN 978-0-13-603753-8.
  • David J. Barnes & Michael Kölling, Objects First with Java: A Practical Introduction using BlueJ, Prentice Hall / Pearson Education, 2008, ISBN 0-13-606086-2.
  • Bennedsen, Jens; Caspersen, Michael E.; Kölling, Michael (Eds.), Reflections on the Teaching of Programming Series: Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Vol. 4821. Springer, 2008, ISBN 978-3-540-77933-9.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]