Artificial Intelligence Pioneer John McCarthy Remembered

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif., 28 October, 2011 – Artificial intelligence pioneer John McCarthy, who proposed Lisp, time-sharing computer systems, and program correctness proofs, and is credited with coining the term “AI,” has died. He was 84.

Artificial Intelligence Hall of Fame Recipient John McCarthyMcCarthy, a professor emeritus of computer science at Stanford University and a former professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was also an honoree in IEEE Intelligent Systems’ inaugural AI Hall of Fame.

He was described by Stanford University as “a giant in the field of computer science and a seminal figure in the field of artificial intelligence,” and is credited by colleagues as helping define the AI field for more than five decades and coining the term “artificial intelligence” at the famous “Dartmouth Conference” in 1955.

Computing Now Associate Editor in Chief Christian Timmerer has created a page to mark the passing of McCarthy, as well as Apple CEO Steve Jobs and computer scientist Dennis Ritchie, inventor of the C programming language.

McCarthy was previously a professor of computer science, the Charles M. Pigott Professor in the School of Engineering, and director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at Stanford University. He held a BS in mathematics from the California Institute of Technology and a PhD in mathematics from Princeton University.

McCarthy founded MIT’s AI laboratory (with Marvin Minsky) in 1957 and Stanford’s AI laboratory in 1963. In 1958, he proposed the Lisp programming language. He was also one of the first to propose and design time-sharing computer systems, and he pioneered mathematical logic to prove the correctness of computer programs.

McCarthy was the recipient of a Turing Award for Computing Machinery, a National Medal of Science in Mathematics and Computer Science, Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science, the first Research Excellence Award of IJCAI, and the Kyoto Prize of the Inamori Foundation. He was also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and National Academy of Sciences.

About the IEEE Computer Society

With nearly 85,000 members, the IEEE Computer Society is the world’s leading organization of computing professionals. Founded in 1946, and the largest of the 38 societies of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Computer Society is dedicated to advancing the theory and application of computer and information-processing technology, and is known globally for its computing standards activities. For more information, go to

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