Before He Disappeared: Conversation With Microsoft's Jim Gray - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Mobile // Mobile Applications
08:18 PM

Before He Disappeared: Conversation With Microsoft's Jim Gray

The database giant hasn't been seen since setting out from San Francisco in his sailboat Jan. 28. In his honor, we reprise a Q & A he had with Dr. Dobb's Journal in 2001.

Jim Gray

Jim Gray is one of the world's leading experts on database and transaction processing computer systems. Over the past three decades he has worked on systems that have defined the progress of the field. In 1995, following six months as McKay Fellow in U.C. Berkeley's Computer Science Division, he joined Microsoft to establish a San Francisco Bay Area laboratory focusing on making Microsoft data servers more scaleable, manageable, and fault tolerant. He is the recipient of the 1998 Turing Award.

DDJ: Can you bring us back in time a bit and tell us what the computer science field was like when you entered it in the early '60s? For example, there were no computer science programs at universities. Most of the work was privately funded.

JG: Well, no. There was a very, very small computer industry, as we would think of it today. IBM was a large company. There were the so called "Seven Dwarfs" -- Burroughs, Control Data, GE, Honeywell, NCR, RCA, Univac -- which were companies. I think NCR is the only survivor out of the "Seven Dwarfs" these days. [Univac], and Burroughs shrunk into Unisys. There was a crowd of people building computers. However, if you actually look at the history of computing, it largely grew out of universities. That is to say there were people in England at Cambridge, Manchester, and Oxford who were building machines. There were people at the University of Pennsylvania who were building machines. There were people at Los Angeles who were building machines. If you wanted to get access to a computer in those days, at a university, you had to pretend you were a numerical analyst. Therefore, I took a numerical analysis class and that gave me access to the machine. That was the only way that you could [get access].

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
1 of 11
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

11 Things IT Professionals Wish They Knew Earlier in Their Careers
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  4/6/2021
Time to Shift Your Job Search Out of Neutral
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  3/31/2021
Does Identity Hinder Hybrid-Cloud and Multi-Cloud Adoption?
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  4/1/2021
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
Successful Strategies for Digital Transformation
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
Flash Poll