Frederick Phillips "Fred" Brooks, Jr. (born April 19, 1931) is an American computer architect, software engineer, and computer scientist, best known for managing the development of IBM's System/360 family of computers and the OS/360 software support package, then later writing candidly about the process in his seminal book The Mythical Man-Month. Brooks has received many awards, including the National Medal of Technology in 1985 and the Turing Award in 1999.
Born in Durham, North Carolina, he attended Duke University, graduating in 1953 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics, and he received a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics (Computer Science) from Harvard University in 1956, supervised by Howard Aiken.
Career and research
Brooks joined IBM in 1956, working in Poughkeepsie, New York and Yorktown, New York. He worked on the architecture of the IBM 7030 Stretch, a $10 million scientific supercomputer of which nine were sold, and the IBM 7950 Harvest computer for the National Security Agency. Subsequently, he became manager for the development of the IBM System/360 family of computers and the OS/360 software package. During this time he coined the term computer architecture.
It was in The Mythical Man-Month that Brooks made the now-famous statement: "Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later." This has since come to be known as Brooks's law. In addition to The Mythical Man-Month, Brooks is also known for the paper No Silver Bullet — Essence and Accident in Software Engineering.
In 1964, Brooks accepted an invitation to come to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and found the University's computer science department. He chaired it for 20 years. As of 2013 he was still engaged in active research there, primarily in virtual environments and scientific visualization.
In a 2010 interview by Kevin Kelly for an article in Wired Magazine, Brooks was asked "What do you consider your greatest technological achievement?" Brooks responded "The most important single decision I ever made was to change the IBM 360 series from a 6-bit byte to an 8-bit byte, thereby enabling the use of lowercase letters. That change propagated everywhere."
A "20th anniversary" edition of The Mythical Man-Month with four additional chapters was published in 1995.
As well as The Mythical Man-Month Brooks has authored or co-authored many books and peer reviewed papers including Automatic Data Processing, No Silver Bullet, Computer Architecture, and The Design of Design.
His contributions to Human–computer interaction are described in Ben Shneiderman's HCI pioneers website.
Service and memberships
Brooks has served on a number of US national boards and committees.
- Defense Science Board (1983–86)
- Member, Artificial Intelligence Task Force (1983–84)
- Chairman, Military Software Task Force (1985–87)
- Member, Computers in Simulation and Training Task Force (1986–87)
- National Science Board (1987–92)
Awards and honors
In chronological order:
- Fellow, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (1968)
- W. Wallace McDowell Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Computer Art, IEEE Computer Group (1970)
- Computer Sciences Distinguished Information Services Award, Information Technology Professionals (1970)
- Guggenheim Fellowship for studies on computer architecture and human factors of computer systems, University of Cambridge, England (1975)
- Member, National Academy of Engineering (1976)
- Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1976)
- Computer Pioneer Award, IEEE Computer Society (1982)
- National Medal of Technology and Innovation (1985)
- Thomas Jefferson Award, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1986)
- Distinguished Service Award, Association for Computing Machinery (1987)
- Harry Goode Memorial Award, American Federation of Information Processing Societies (1989)
- Foreign Member, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (1991)
- Honorary Doctor of Technical Science, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH Zurich (1991)
- IEEE John von Neumann Medal, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (1993)
- Fellow (initial inductee), Association for Computing Machinery (1994)
- Distinguished Fellow, British Computer Society (1994)
- Foreign Member of the Royal Academy of Engineering, UK (1994)
- Allen Newell Award, Association for Computing Machinery (1994)
- Bower Award and Prize in Science, Franklin Institute (1995)
- CyberEdge Journal Annual Sutherland Award (April 1997)
- Turing Award, Association for Computing Machinery (1999)
- Member, National Academy of Sciences (2001)
- Received the Computer History Museum's Fellow Award, for his contributions to computer architecture, operating systems, and software engineering. (2001)
- Eckert–Mauchly Award, Association for Computing Machinery and The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers–Computer Society (2004)
- IEEE Virtual Reality Career Award (2010)
In January 2005 he gave the Turing Lecture on the subject of "Collaboration and Telecollaboration in Design". In 1994 he was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery.
Brooks is an evangelical Christian who is active with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.