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Communications of the ACM


In Memoriam: William A. Wulf

William Wulf

Credit: Cable Risdon

William A. Wulf was among the first computer science Ph.D.'s. He was an accomplished academic who worked at the intersection of operating systems, computer architecture, and computer languages. He was an entrepreneur who co-founded a company to commercialize his research. And he was hugely influential in computing policy, making major contributions at the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Wulf grew up in Chicago, under severe economic hardship after his father developed Parkinson's disease when Wulf was a small child. He enrolled at the University of Illinois' temporary branch campus on Chicago's Navy Pier—the only school he could afford—where he studied engineering physics.


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