Kristen Nygaard, computer programming language pioneer, dies at 75

Sun Aug 11, 5:53 PM ET

OSLO, Norway - Kristen Nygaard, a pioneer in developing programming language for computers who helped lay the basis for the Internet, has died of a heart attack. He was 75.

Nygaard died Saturday in Norway's capital, Oslo, according to media reports.

The University of Oslo professor was acclaimed internationally for his work in developing the programming language Simula that laid the basis for MS-DOS and the Internet.

He and his colleague Ole-Johan Dahl, who died in June, were presented the 2001 A.M. Turing Award and other prizes for their role in the invention of object-oriented programming at the Norwegian Computing Center from 1961 to 1967.

The Association for Computing Machinery, which awarded the prize, said the work paved the way for the widely used programming languages Java, C++ and others used in personal computers and home entertainment devices.

"Their work has led to a fundamental change in how software systems are designed and programmed, resulting in reusable, reliable, scalable applications," according to the citation.

The first models of Simula - an abbreviation for simulation language - were for calculators but later editions became the basis for icon-based programming language on which the Internet and MS-DOS are built.

Nygaard also helped spearhead the successful campaign against Norway's membership in the European Union (news - web sites), which involved holding together groups ranging from conservative farmers to leftist trade unionists.

Norwegians voted against joining the EU in a 1994 referendum.

There was no immediate word on funeral arrangements.