Watts Humphrey

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Watts Humphrey
Born(1927 -07-04)July 4, 1927
DiedOctober 28, 2010(2010-10-28) (aged 83)
Known forCapability Maturity Model
AwardsNational Medal of Technology
Scientific career
FieldsSoftware engineering
InstitutionsIBM, Software Engineering Institute

Watts S. Humphrey (July 4, 1927 – October 28, 2010) was an American pioneer in software engineering who was called the "father of software quality."[1]


Watts Humphrey (whose grandfather and father also had the same name) was born in Battle Creek, Michigan on July 4, 1927. His uncle was US Secretary of the Treasury George M. Humphrey.[2] In 1944, he graduated from high school and served in the United States Navy.[3] Despite dyslexia, he received a bachelor of science in physics from the University of Chicago, a master of science in physics from Illinois Institute of Technology physics department, and a master of business administration from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.[1]

In 1953 he went to Boston and worked at Sylvania Labs. In 1959 he joined IBM.[4] In the late 1960s, Humphrey headed the IBM software team that introduced the first software license. Humphrey was a vice president at IBM.

In the 1980s at the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) at Carnegie Mellon University Humphrey founded the Software Process Program, and served as director of that program from 1986 until the early 1990s. This program was aimed at understanding and managing the software engineering process because this is where big and small organizations or individuals encounter the most serious difficulties and where, thereafter, lies the best opportunity for significant improvement.[5]

The program resulted in the development of the Capability Maturity Model, published in 1989 in Humphrey's "Managing the Software Process"[6] and inspired the later development of the personal software process (PSP) and the team software process (TSP) concepts.[1]

Humphrey received an honorary doctor of software engineering from the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 1998. The Watts Humphrey Software Quality Institute in Chennai, India was named after him in 2000.[7] In 2003, Humphrey was awarded the National Medal of Technology.[8] Humphrey became a fellow of the SEI and of the Association for Computing Machinery in 2008.[9]

See also[edit]


Humphrey is the author of several books, including

  • 2011. Leadership, Teamwork, and Trust: Building a Competitive Software Capability. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.
  • 2010. Reflections on Management: How to Manage Your Software Projects, Your Teams, Your Boss, and Yourself. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.
  • 2006. TSP, Coaching Development Teams. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.
  • 2006. TSP, Leading a Development Team. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.
  • 2005. PSP, A Self-Improvement Process for Software Engineers. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.
  • 2001. Winning with Software: An Executive Strategy. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.
  • 1999. Introduction to the Team Software Process. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.
  • 1997. Introduction to the Personal Software Process. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.
  • 1996. Managing Technical People - Innovation, Teamwork and Software Process. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.
  • 1995. A Discipline for Software Engineering. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.
  • 1989. Managing the Software Process. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.
  • 1958. Switching Circuits with Computer Applications. McGraw-Hill Book Company


  1. ^ a b c "National Medal of Technology Winner Watts Humphrey, 1927 - 2010". Press release. Software Engineering Institute. October 28, 2010. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
  2. ^ Grady Booch (April 19, 2010). "Interview with Watts Humphrey, Part 9: Family History, Phase Plans, and Labs Around the World". Inform IT. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
  3. ^ "Watts Humphrey: An Outrageous Commitment, A Lifelong Mission". Software Engineering Institute collections. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
  4. ^ "Food for Thought". Software Quality Consulting, Inc. December 2010. Retrieved December 31, 2021.
  5. ^ "Watts Humphrey". www.sei.cmu.edu. Retrieved 2023-11-20.
  6. ^ Hillel Glazer; Jeff Dalton; David Anderson; Michael D. Konrad; Sandra Shrum (November 2008). "CMMI or Agile: Why Not Embrace Both!". CMU/SEI Report Number: CMU/SEI-2008-TN-003. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
  7. ^ "Watts S. Humphrey". Speaker biography for SIGAda 2004. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
  8. ^ "Founder of SEI Software Process Program honored for contributions to software engineering community". Press release. Software Engineering Institute. February 15, 2005. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
  9. ^ "ACM Fellows (2008)". ACM (Association for Computing Machinery). Retrieved 2009-03-26. Watts S. Humphrey, Software Engineering Institute, Carnegie Mellon University; Citation: For contributions to software engineering process discipline.

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