Severo Ornstein

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Severo M. Ornstein (born 1930) is a retired computer scientist and son of Russian-American composer Leo Ornstein. In 1955 he joined MIT's Lincoln Laboratory as a programmer and designer for the SAGE air-defense system. He later joined the TX-2 group and became a member of the team that designed the LINC. He moved with the team to Washington University in St. Louis where he was one of the principal designers of macromodules.[1]

Returning to Boston he joined Bolt, Beranek and Newman. When ARPA issued a Request for Proposal for the ARPANET, he joined the group that wrote the winning proposal. He was responsible for the design of the communication interfaces and other special hardware for the Interface Message Processor. In 1972 he headed the first delegation of U.S. computer scientists to the People's Republic of China.[2]

In 1976, he joined Xerox PARC where he implemented a computer interface to an early laser printer. Later he co-led (with Ed McCreight) the team that built the Dorado computer.[3] Ornstein co-designed Mockingbird, the first interactive computer-based music-score editor, and oversaw its programming.[4]

In 1980 he was instrumental in starting Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR). He wrote an autobiography describing his experiences in computer science, published in 2002.[5]


  1. ^ Ornstein, S.M.; Stucki, M.J.; Clark, W.A. (1967), "A functional description of macromodules", Proceedings of the April 18–20, 1967, Spring Joint Computer Conference: 337–355, retrieved 2010-08-26
  2. ^ "Chinese computer progress surprises Harvard expert". Christian Science Monitor. 1972-08-29. p. 10.
  3. ^ Ken A Pier (1983), "A retrospective on the Dorado, a high-performance personal computer" (PDF), Proceedings of the 10th Annual International Symposium on Computer Architecture: 269, archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-02-18, retrieved 2010-08-26
  4. ^ Roads, C. (Autumn 1981). "A Note on Music Printing by Computer". Computer Music Journal. The MIT Press. 5 (3): 57–59. doi:10.2307/3679986. JSTOR 3679986.
  5. ^ Severo Ornstein (2002). Computing in the Middle Ages: A View from the Trenches 1955-1983. Lexington, KY: 1st Books. ISBN 978-1-4033-1517-5.