Chats with Kelly Gotlieb, "the" Internationally Renowned Pioneer in Computing -- Kelly talks about his work with the ACM

Kelly GotliebThis week, Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, I.S.P. continues his exclusive interviews with computing pioneer, Calvin C. (Kelly) Gotlieb, C.M., M.A., PhD. (University of Toronto), D. Math. (Hon., University of Waterloo), D. Eng. (Hon., Technical University of Nova Scotia), Fellow CIPS (FCIPS), Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the British Computer Society and the Association for Computing Machinery.

Kelly Gotlieb is currently Professor Emeritus in Computer Science and in the Faculty of Information Studies at the University of Toronto (UT). He is a computing pioneer, whose innovations and accomplishments helped lay the foundation of an entire worldwide industry, educational stream, and profession. His contributions are so profound and their impact so diverse and in so many areas that the lasting value cannot be comprehended. Have a look at this blog to find out more:

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

The latest blog on some selected interviews can be found in the IT Managers Connection (IMC) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.


Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:36: Can you provide a brief history of how you initially got into computing?
"....During the war we were doing calculations (usually on desk computers) and electronics. After the war when the interest came up in electronics in the days of computers, it was a natural for me...."

:02:00: You joined the ACM in 1949. Can you tell us more about the ACM and how you got initially involved?
"....I got to meet the founder and the early principals and contributed some articles. Ed Berkeley, for example, was one of the key persons....I wrote some articles on the Future of Computing for his magazine, Computers and Automation...."

:03:12: How did you get into ACM publications? What led to you being Editor-in-Chief of two flagship journals of the ACM?
".....the first journal they started was the Journal of ACM but later on they formed the Communications of ACM. I was invited to become an editor of the Business Section because I had written some articles on computer sorting ....... Then when the founding editor became president of ACM, he decided not to be editor-in-chief so they invited me to be editor in chief of Com ACM which I did for about three years....When the editor-in-chief of the Journal of ACM left, I was invited to me to move over to that, which I did....I was involved with the publications for about eight or nine years...."

:04:54: Can you tell us more about the book you wrote with Hume?
"....We wrote this book called 'High Speed Data Processing' with Hume. It is one of the things of great satisfaction to me...."

:07:34: Kelly met Turing in 1952. He shares more about that time.
"....It's kind of interesting that computer people think of Turing and the Turing Test and the giant which he was in the computer field. Chemists regard him as the originator of the Chaos theory and they regard him highly for a completely different discipline.... "

:12:30:  Kelly talks about the ACM National Computing Conference which was held in Canada in 1952.
"....We were getting a Ferranti machine.....There was a tremendous interest in the machine. So the ACM was holding a conference and they decided to hold their 4th (I think at it was one of the only ones they ever held outside the US)....They were so anxious to see this Ferranti machine that they accepted our invitation to hold the conference here and it was a very successful one. Almost anyone who was famous in computing came up to see that machine...."

:14:28: You had an interesting offer from the Dean at Cornell - can you tell us more about that?
"....One day while I was walking outside the university, someone introduced himself to me as the Dean of Graduate School at Cornell University. He said they were starting up a new department and they would like me to become the Chair of the department...."

:16:14: You were involved in creating the glossary of computing - please share more about this?
"....I wasn't involved in that for long....but I was a participant in creating one of the glossaries of computing terms...."

:17:01: Tell us more about the travelling lecture program for the ACM?
"....In the early days, the ACM was heavily populated by academics and they set up a lecture program which they make available to universities. Volunteers would give lectures and would travel around. So I volunteered...."

:19:05: From your ACM work, this afforded opportunities to have guest lecturers-can you share some memorable stories?
"....For about twenty years I've been chair and co-chair of the ACM Awards committee so you get to meet award winners who are bright and have a huge range of interests....You get to meet a wonderful range of interesting people....It's one of the kinds that keeps me doing this because you get to meet some interesting people.... "

:23:54: You have touched on this earlier - about your work on the various Awards committees which continues to this day. What insights can you share?
"....They have more and more profile, for example, the Turing Award and the Infosys Foundation Award (new) - the winners attract attention and are written up in the New York Times. The Turing award has always been spoken of as the equivalent of the Nobel Prize but for computing....One thing that has helped a lot is the recognition that the ACM award process is one that is very fair...."

:29:19: With regards to the awards themselves I know that you were able to establish some of the key policies in the early days of the awards to bring that shape and formality to the awards. Can you share more about this?
"....When we invite someone to the awards committee usually they serve for three to five years. One policy I did was....when you are appointed to the committee you gravitate up and you become chair of the committee usually in your second last year.....Everybody who is on the committee is game to be worthy of chairing the committee so that is never a concern...."

:31:00: Kelly talks about his Fellow's work with the ACM.

:32:40: As we come to a close with this interview, what else would you like to share about ACM?
"....It's a very dynamic organization....When it started it was heavily populated by academics but now about two thirds of the membership are practitioners....They are making special efforts right now to provide technical backgrounds for their practitioners who form a large part of their membership by conferences and digital library. I'm quite admiring of the organization. I think they have a lot lessons for others...."