DIJKSTRA MEETS BACHMAN
(Programs versus Data!)

Computer History Vignettes

By Bob Bemer

For some period it seemed as though every time Edsger Dijkstra came to the United States for a computer conference I would wind up having a drink with him late at night. You may have heard of his famous diatribe against the use of "GOTOs" in programs. The 1974 National Computer Conference was no exception, but it delivered a bit of a shock.

Charlie Bachman and Susan Brewer, coworkers of mine, walked up to our table, and we had a fair amount of discussion. After they left, Dijkstra asked me "Who was that?"

I answered "Doesn't the 1972 Turing Award winner recognize the 1973 Turing Award winner? That was Charlie Bachman."

I felt in danger of drawing a conclusion that if Mr. Structured Programming didn't recognize Mr. Structured Data -- might it symbolize a lot of what had been wrong with software?

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