Harold "Bud" Lawson

Lawson Konsult AB

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The Birth of the Pointer Variable

In 1964 I invented the pointer variable concept and integrated these facilities into the PL/I programming language. This was motivated by the fact that there were, at that time, no higher level programming languages that provided facilities for treating multi-linked data structures. Since then the pointer variable concept has been integrated into a wide variety of programming languages including C, C++, Ada, BASIC, COBOL, D, Eiffel, Fortran, Go, Java, Modula-2, Oberon, Pascal and Perl. Consequently the pointer variable has affected the work of millions of software designers and programmers. In fact, the well-known Stanford professor Donald Knuth identifies “the pointer variable as one of computer science most valuable treasures”. In this presentation, the development of the original pointer variable concept is described and related to dealing with various forms of linked data structures.

Harold "Bud" Lawson

Harold “Bud” Lawson has been active in the computing and systems arena since 1958 and has broad international experience in private and public organizations as well as academic environments. Bud contributed to several pioneering efforts in hardware, software and computer-based system technologies. He is a Fellow of the ACM, IEEE and INCOSE. In 2000, he received the prestigious IEEE Computer Pioneer Charles Babbage medal award for his 1964 invention of the pointer variable concept for programming languages. In 2016 he was recognized as an INCOSE Systems Engineering Pioneer for his life long contributions to the unification of Software and Systems Engineering. Harold “Bud” Lawson is an independent consultant operating his own company Lawson Konsult AB and is, as well, a consulting partner of Syntell AB, Stockholm.