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Humanist Archives: March 17, 2023, 6:04 a.m. Humanist 36.455 - William Wulf, 1939-2023

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 36, No. 455.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
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        Date: 2023-03-16 13:39:01+00:00
        From: Willard McCarty <>
        Subject: William Wulf, 1939-2023

Bill Wulf, computer scientist and engineer at the University of
Virginia, died on 10 March at the age of 83. His career and
accomplishments are summed up in a Wikipedia entry, but what is not
mentioned there is his role in the founding of the Institute for
Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH) at Virginia
<> in 1992. One of the signal moments in the
history of digital humanities.

I remember Bill Wulf from a meeting at the National Academy of the
Sciences in Washington D.C. in the late 1980s or early 1990s when he got
us to think like an engineer by having to guess what he had in his
pocket--an object, he said, illustrating a phenomenon that could not
have been anticipated. What could it be? we thought. It was a greeting
card which played a tune when opened. Any competent engineer, he said,
could have anticipated that an electronic processor would someday be
small enough to be concealed in a card, but what he doubted anyone would
have guessed is that the resulting implementation would be intended as a
throwaway, perhaps used only once.

He will be missed by many.

Willard McCarty,
Professor emeritus, King's College London;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews;  Humanist

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