Alan J. Perlis papers
Scope and Content Note
The collection contains correspondence, class handouts, lecture notes and visual aids, published articles and reports, subject files, audio tapes and videotapes relating to Alan Perlis' work in computer science education, programming languages, and compiler programs. The collection includes transcripts and recordings of classroom lectures for one course and notes for other course that Perlis taught. Committee records include minutes, correspondence, and reports from committees on which Perlis served including a number of Yale faculty committees. Perlis' M.S. thesis and Ph.D. dissertation are included in his subject files along with information on the programming languages ALGOL, APL, and LISP, and several compilers including the IT compiler. The audio tapes include a panel discussion and a discussion of the Strategic Defense Initiative. The videotapes document the fortieth anniversary of ACM and includes a segment on Perlis.
- Perlis, Alan J. (Person)
Language of Materials
Access to materials:
Access to the collection is unrestricted.
The Charles Babbage Institute holds the copyright to all materials in the collection, except for items covered by a prior copyright (such as published materials). Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provisions of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code).
Alan J. Perlis received a B.S. in chemistry from Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1943, and an M.S. (1949) and PhD (1950) in mathematics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.). At M.I.T. he worked on Project Whirlwind from 1948-1949, and again in 1952, after a year at the Ballistic Research Laboratories, Aberdeen Proving Ground. In 1952 he became director of the Computing Laboratory and an assistant professor of Mathematics at Purdue University. In 1956 he took a position at Carnegie Institute of Technology (later Carnegie-Mellon University). There he was director of the computation center, 1956-1960; chair of the Department of Mathematics, 1960-1964; and chair of the Computer Science Department, 1965-1971. In 1971 he was appointed Eugene Higgins Professor of Computer Science at Yale, and served as chair of the Computer Science Department 1976-1980, except for the 1977-1978 year when he was the Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Computer Science at the California Institute of Technology.
Throughout his professional life, his dominant interest remained programming languages. In the mid-1950s, Perlis began to design the IT (Internal Translator) compiler at Purdue and he completed the project after moving to Carnegie Institute of Technology. As chair of the Association for Computer Machinery committee charged to develop a common universal programming language in 1957, he worked to create ALGOL. ALGOL is a second generation language which led to PASCAL and other derivative languages and helped establish new standards for the development of programming languages. Later, Perlis worked with APL while at Yale.
Perlis wrote several articles and books on programming and compilers including an introductory text on computer programming. Perlis was active in the Association for Computer Machinery, becoming the first editor of Communications of the ACM(1958-1962), and president of the ACM from 1962 to 1964.
Perlis received the A. N. Turing Award of the ACM in 1966 and the AFIPS Education Award in 1984.
6 boxes (4.5 cubic feet)
Collection contains correspondence, class handouts, lecture notes and visual aids, published articles and reports, subject files, audio tapes and videotapes relating to Perlis' work in computer science education, programming languages, and compiler programs.
Arrangement of Collection
The materials in this collection are arranged into the following groups:
- Class Materials, 1962-1987
- Committee Records, 1976-1987
- Conference Records, 1956-1989
- Correspondence, 1969-1989
- Subject Files, 1942-1987
- Talks and Lectures, 1951-1988
- Audio Tapes and Video Tapes, undated and 1985
The records were given to the Charles Babbage Institute by Mrs. Alan J. Perlis in 1990 and the Association for Computing Machinery in 1990.
- ALGOL (Computer program language) -- History Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- APL (Computer program language) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Association for Computing Machinery
- Compilers (Computer programs) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Computer science -- Study and teaching (Higher) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- LISP (Computer program language) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Perlis, Alan J.
- Programming languages (Electronic computers) -- History -- Sources Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Yale University. Dept. of Computer Science
- Alan J. Perlis Papers, 1942-1989. Finding Aid.
- Prepared by Pat Hennessy, March 1991.
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note