Stephen R. Bourne

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Steve Bourne speaking at SDWest 2005.

Stephen Richard "Steve" Bourne (born 7 January 1944) is a computer scientist, originally from the United Kingdom and based in the United States for most of his career. He is well-known as the author of the Bourne shell (sh), which is the foundation for the standard command line interfaces to Unix.[1]


Bourne has a bachelor's degree in mathematics from King's College London, England. He has a Diploma in Computer Science and a Ph.D. in mathematics from Trinity College, Cambridge. Subsequently he worked on an ALGOL 68 compiler at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory (see ALGOL 68C).

After Cambridge, Bourne spent nine years at Bell Labs with the Seventh Edition Unix team.[2] As well as the Bourne shell, he wrote the adb debugger and The UNIX System, the second book on the UNIX system, intended for a general readership.

After Bell Labs, Bourne worked in senior engineering management positions at Silicon Graphics, Digital Equipment Corporation, Sun Microsystems and Cisco Systems.

From 2000 to 2002 he was president of the Association for Computing Machinery.[3] For his work on computing, Bourne was awarded the ACM's Presidential Award in 2008 and was made a fellow of the organization in 2005.[4] He is also a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Bourne was chief technology officer at Icon Venture Partners, a venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, California through 2014.[5] He is also the chair of the editorial advisory board for ACM Queue, a magazine he helped found when he was president of the ACM.[6]


  1. ^ Howard Dahdah, The A–Z of Programming Languages: Bourne shell, or sh — An in-depth interview with Steve Bourne, creator of the Bourne shell, or sh, Computerworld, March 5, 2009.
  2. ^ Early days of Unix and design of sh on YouTube Stephen R. Bourne, November 30, 2015
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  5. ^ "Steve Bourne". Icon Venture Partners. Archived from the original on December 11, 2014. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  6. ^ John Stanik, A Conversation with Steve Bourne, Eric Allman, and Bryan Cantrill, ACM Queue, October 24, 2008.

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