Niklaus Wirth

Every single project was primarily a learning experiment. One learns best when inventing. Only by actually doing a development project can I gain enough familiarity with the intrinsic difficulties and enough confidence that the inherent details can be mastered. I never could separate the design of a language from its implementation, for a rigid definition without the feedback from the construction of its compiler would seem to me presumptuous and unprofessional. Thus, I participated in the construction of compilers, circuity, and text and graphics editors, and this entailed microprogramming, much high-level programming, circuit design, board layout, and even wire wrapping. This may seem odd, but I simply like hands-on experience much better than team management. I have also learned that researchers accept leadership from a factual, in-touch team member much more readily than from an organization expert, be he a manager in industry or a university professor. I try to keep in mind that teaching by setting a good example is often the most effective method and sometimes the only one available.

Lastly, each of these projects was carried through by the enthusiasm and the desire to succeed in the knowledge that the endeavor was worthwhile. This is perhaps the most essential but also the most elusive and subtle prerequisite.

Niklaus Wirth, From Programming Language Design to Computer Construction

Text rights: Creator: Niklaus Wirth • Statement: In Copyright • Holder: Niklaus Wirth