Melvin Conway

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Melvin Edward Conway is a computer scientist, computer programmer, and hacker who coined what's now known as Conway's Law: "Organizations which design systems are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations."

Apart from the above, Conway is perhaps most famous for his seminal paper on coroutines.[1] In this paper he proposed to organize a compiler as a set of coroutines, which gives possibility of using separate passes in debugging and then running a single pass compiler in production. Another famous paper is his exposition of UNCOL in 1958.[2]

Conway wrote an assembler for the Burroughs model 220 computer called SAVE. The name SAVE was not an acronym, but a feature: programmers lost fewer punched card decks because they all had "SAVE" written on them.

His work on Pascal compiler for Rockwell Semiconductor (an immediate-turnaround Pascal trainer for the Rockwell AIM-65) led to an arrangement between Apple and Think Technologies (where he served as a principal) under which the latter produced the original (1984) Mac Pascal and Apple II Instant Pascal.

In the 1970s and 1980s, he was involved with the MUMPS medical computer language and system language standard specification for the National Bureau of Standards.[3] He also wrote a reference book on MUMPS.[4]


Selected publications[edit]


  1. ^ M.E. Conway, "Design of a separable transition-diagram compiler", Communications of the ACM, Vol. 6, No. 7, July 1963
  2. ^ Melvin E. Conway, "Proposal for an UNCOL", Communications of the ACM 1:3:5 (1958).
  3. ^ "1977 Version of ANSI Standard MUMPS". "Part I of this Standard, the MUMPS Language Specification, MDC/28, was prepared by Melvin E. Conway under Contract No. 5–35770 with the National Bureau of Standards."
  4. ^ Mumps Programming Reference Manual by Melvin E. Conway, M Technology Assn. (December 1983) ISBN 0-918118-25-5

External links[edit]