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Information and Computation

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Object-oriented programming (Computer science) -- History, SIMULA (Computer program language), Ole-Johan Dahl, Kristen Nygaard


Object-oriented programming is inextricably linked to the pioneering work of Ole-Johan Dahl and Kristen Nygaard on the design of the Simula language, which started at the Norwegian Computing Centre in the Spring of 1961. However, object-orientation, as we think of it today—fifty years later—is the result of a complex interplay of ideas, constraints and people. Dahl and Nygaard would certainly recognize it as their progeny, but might also be amazed at how much it has grown up. This article is based on a lecture given on 22nd August 2011, on the occasion of the scientific opening of the Ole-Johan Dahl hus at the University of Oslo. It looks at the foundational ideas from Simula that stand behind object-orientation, how those ideas have evolved to become the dominant programming paradigm, and what they have to offer as we approach the challenges of the next fifty years of informatics.


Author's preprint version of an article submitted for publication in Information and Computation, published by Elsevier, Inc. Version of record may be found at



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