Niklaus Wirth

Niklaus Wirth ( * February 15, 1934 in Winterthur ) is a Swiss computer scientist. His creations include Pascal, one of the most well-known programming languages.


1959 graduate electrical engineer at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, 1960 M.Sc. at the Université Laval in Canada, received his doctorate Niklaus Wirth in 1963 at the University of California at Berkeley. According to assistant professorships at Stanford University and the University of Zurich in 1968, he returned back to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, where he taught as a professor of computer science to 1999 and researched. In the years 1976 to 1977 and from 1984 to 1985 was ever a study stay at Palo Alto Research Center ( PARC ) of Xerox.

Starting developed from his dissertation Wirth in 1966 together with Helmut Weber at Stanford Euler programming language. He participated in order to further develop and generalize the language Algol. In particular, he created in collaboration with CAR Hoare language Algol W, involved in the development of Algol 68. Disappointed defined for this language at the ever increasing complexity of the designs and he implemented in the years 1968-1972 almost single-handedly the Pascal programming language. He also extended the formal language Backus -Naur Form (BNF ), which was used for 60 notation to the syntax of Algol, the Extended Backus -Naur Form ( EBNF ). Later he designed the Pascal - Modula successor (1973-1976), Modula - 2 (1977-1980) and Oberon (1985-1990), which, despite its clear concepts and their ultimate simplicity is not the same having been successful as their ancestor.

Following his residencies at Xerox PARC Wirth built the computer systems Lilith (1980) and Ceres ( 1986) and the associated operating systems. Despite their sometimes groundbreaking characteristics were attempts to market them commercially workstations, with little success. Taking up his hobby of model flying youth, he paid, inter alia, several selbstnavigierende model helicopter with Oberon - programmed on-board computers. From his residence in the Xerox 1980, he brought one of the first computer mice to Europe, which led to the first serial mouse in the world of the Swiss company Logitech.

Wirth has received numerous honors, inter alia, in 1984, the ACM Turing Award is the first and only German computer scientist (as of 2013), and the 1988 IEEE Computer Pioneer Award.

Honors and Awards (selection)

  • A somewhat special award is the name of a software for learning the programming language Pascal as " Niki - the robot " in allusion to Niklaus.
  • The asteroid ( 21655 ) Niklaus Wirth was named after him.


  • Systematic programming ( 1972)
  • Algorithms and Data Structures (1975 )
  • Compiler Construction ( 1977) ( declared and fully implemented will be a PL/0-Compiler ) - PDF version
  • Programming in Modula -2 ( 1982)
  • Algorithms and Data Structures with Modula -2 ( 1986)
  • Project Oberon (1992 ) - PDF version
  • Programming in Oberon (1992 ) - PDF version
  • Digital Circuit Design for Computer Science Students. An Introductory Textbook (1995 )
  • Fundamentals and techniques of compiler construction (1995 )
  • Algorithms and Data Structures, Oberon version (2004 ) - PDF version


  • A Plea for Lean Software. (Article ) ( 1995)