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Brinch Hansen

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Brinch Hansen

Per Brinch Hansen (November 13, 1938 – July 31, 2007) was a Danish-American computer scientist known for concurrent programming theory.


He was born in Frederiksberg, in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Brinch Hansen was one of the pioneers of concurrent programming and operating systems (kernels). He coined the then-Danish word for computer: Datamat (English: datamaton). In the 1960s, Brinch Hansen worked at the Danish computer company Regnecentralen, first in the compiler group headed by Peter Naur and Jørn Jensen, and, later, as the chief architect of the RC 4000 minicomputer and its renowned operating system kernel (RC 4000 Multiprogramming System). In 1972, he wrote the first comprehensive textbook on Operating System Principles.

In 1970, his research in computer science focused on concurrent programming: Inspired by Ole-Johan Dahl and Kristen Nygaard's programming language Simula 67, he invented the monitor concept in 1972. In the United States, he also developed the first concurrent programming language, Concurrent Pascal, in 1975. In 1977, he wrote the first book on Concurrent Programming: The Architecture of Concurrent Programs.

Later, Brinch Hansen documented the historical development of these fundamental areas of computer science. This in part led to his invention, documentation and implementation of the programming language SuperPascal and the creation of the concept of a teaching programming language. Per Brinch Hansen also published a well-known paper detailing the inadequacies and pitfalls of Java's parallelism.[1]

In 1987, he became a professor at Syracuse University in New York State. On July 31, 2007, Per Brinch Hansen died of cancer.


He graduated in 1957 from St. Jørgens Gymnasium, Frederiksberg, and received his MS in 1963 in Electrical Engineering from Technical University of Denmark.

Professional experience

Honors and awards

  • 1978 Doctor Technices, Technical University of Denmark, for The Architecture of Concurrent Programs
  • 1985 IEEE Fellow
  • 1989 Chancellor's Medal, Syracuse University
  • 2002 IEEE Computer Pioneer Award, for pioneering development in operating systems and concurrent programming exemplified by work on the RC 4000 multiprogramming system, monitors, and Concurrent Pascal


  • Operating System Principles (1973, ISBN 0-13-637843-9)
  • The Architecture of Concurrent Programs (1977, ISBN 0-13-044628-9)
  • Programming a Personal Computer (1983, ISBN 0-13-730267-3)
  • Brinch Hansen on Pascal Compilers (1985, ISBN 0-13-083098-4)
  • Studies in Computational Science: Parallel Programming Paradigms (1995, ISBN 0-13-439324-4)
  • The Search for Simplicity: Essays in Parallel Programming (1996)
  • Programming for Everyone in Java (1999, ISBN 0-387-98683-9)
  • Classic Operating Systems: From Batch Processing to Distributed Systems (editor, 2001, ISBN 0-387-95113-X)
  • The Origin of Concurrent Programming: From Semaphores to Remote Procedure Calls (editor, 2004, ISBN 0-387-95401-5)
  • A Programmer's Story: The Life of a Computer Pioneer (2004, available at


  • Writing is a rigorous test of simplicity: It is just not possible to write convincingly about ideas that cannot be understood
  • Programming is the art of writing essays in crystal clear prose and making them executable


External links

  • Personal website with memoirs, selected papers and detailed bibliography
  • Early papers by Per Brinch Hansen (1966–1970) at the Danish Datamuseum

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