User:Geo Swan/userified/2012-12-18/Paul Dirksen

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Paul H. Dirksen
Died 2004
Waterloo, Ontario
Nationality Canada

Dr. Paul H. Dirksen was a Canadian computer scientist.

In 1965 a small team at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada, had written a teaching compiler for Fortran for the IBM 7090, called Watfor. Dozens of other institutions had adopted the compiler. In 1966 Wes Graham, the Professor who oversaw the first team, and the director of the University's Department of Computing Services, called upon Dirksen and Paul Cress, two young lecturers in computer science, to write a version of the compiler for the newly developed, more powerful, IBM 360.[citation needed] Therefore the two were the project leaders and began writing the WATFOR 360.[1] At the time, Dirksen was a graduate student.[2]

Dirksen, Cress, and Graham wrote a textbook, intended to be used in a first year programming course that used their compiler, "Fortran IV with WATFOR" that was eventually to sell over one million copies.[citation needed]

Dirksen became the director of the university's Department of Computing Services.Cite error: The <ref> tag has too many names (see the help page). In 1969 Dirksen was appointed as the second such director, replacing Graham. DCS was a non-academic department, distinct from the Math Faculty's Department of Computer Science, that provided access to computers for the entire University's academic and non-academic departments. In 1996, when Dirksen retired, DCS was merged with the non-academic Phone Service and Data Processing departments, to form a new Information and Communication Services department.[citation needed]

In 1967, when a new building, then the largest on campus, was built for the University's new Math Faculty, it had at its center a two story computer room, known simply as the "Red Room". T Graham and Dirksen continued to work closely, and Dirksen authored or co-authored textbooks for several other computer languages written by teams under Graham's general direction.

In 1972, the Association for Computing Machinery chose Dirksen and Cress for its annual Grace Hopper Award.[1]


  1. ^ a b Alkema, Harold and Kenneth McLaughlin. "Unbundling Computing at The University of Waterloo" (Archive). University of Waterloo. 2007. Retrieved on May 23, 2014.
  2. ^ Helliwell, John. "A Victory for Computer Literacy in Waterloo." PC Mag. Ziff Davis, Inc., April 2, 1985. Vol. 4, No. 7. ISSN 0888-8507. Start p. 205. Cited: 207.

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