50 years anniversary of Simula, the first object-oriented programming language


Wednesday, 27th September, 2017

ASU conference

On Tuesday, 26th September, 2017, ASU (Association of Simula Users) held an additional conference.


The Simula auditorium in the Ole-Johan Dahl building at the University of Oslo.


The conference was recorded.


Wilfried Rupflin photographed the event; here are some of the pictures from


9:00 Check in
10:00 Unveiling the IEEE milestone plaque (in the entrance hall)
11:00 Lunch
12:05 Opening by Ellen Munthe-Kaas (head of Department of informatics) and Arne Maus (head of celebration committee)
12:15 Oscar Nierstrasz: Great moments in the history of OOP
Object-Oriented Programming has matured over the years from being an exotic (and oft-derided) programming paradigm to an established, successful (and oft-derided) cornerstone of modern software development. This talk will present a very personal tour of some of the milestones in the history of OOP, from its very beginnings to the present day.
13:15 Dave Thomas: The legacy of Simula 67
Early computers were designed to solve difficult numerical problems; to the extent that models entered the picture, they were limited to mathematical equations describing those problems. The difficulty of programming algorithms in machine code quickly led to the development of scientific and business programming languages. Languages required that machines work with symbols, however, the models remained mathematical or sort/merge/match/update (CRUD). Early AI researchers created symbolic list processing languages in to model knowledge representation and reasoning. These languages were then used for symbolic mathematics -- again to support mathematical models.

But then a profound change occurred. Increased processing power enabled the use of computers to simulate real world systems and processes. This led in turn to a family of languages for building simulations. Simula 67 took a unique anthropomorphic viewpoint “to compute is to model, to model is to compute”. The model was placed front and center as the essence of the computation. Simula expressed models as a society of communicating “actors” interacting with classes and their instances. Objects could be defined and specialized via refinement – known as Object-Orientation in Europe. Dahl and Nygaard put great thought into how a language should describe both work flow and social interaction, in addition to the computation, enabling models to be directly expressible for the first time.

In this talk we describe the industrial impact of the “Scandinavian school” perspective on models and computation, so elegantly articulated in Simula and Beta. OO Languages which followed have dominated the computing landscape for almost 4 decades. Analysis and Design has also been profoundly influenced by object modeling - OOAD, OMT, RDD, ORM, Design Patterns and UML/SysML all trace their roots to Simula. We discuss the impact of model as language and object-orientation as they have been applied in industry, both in terms of lessons learned and more importantly of lessons still to be learned.

14:15 Coffee break
15:00 James Gosling: Simula: a personal journey
I started using Simula in 1974 (1975?). I even did some bug fixing on the copy of the compiler that we had. It totally transformed the way I thought about software. I did use it for simulation, but I used it in other ways as well. When Smalltalk and C++ came around, neither felt to me like they measured up to Simula. And Simula had a primitive multi-threading model (via co-routines) that was ahead of its time. When it became my turn, and I was working on Java, Simula was very much on my mind.
16:05 Panel debate chaired by Eric Jul: Whither programming languages? Can we still celebrate Simula 50 years from now?
The three speakers as well as Ole Lehrmann Madsen and Olaf Owe will participate.
18:00 End of technical programme
19:00 Banquet dinner at Hotel Bristol in Oslo city center; banquet speaker: Peter Jensen




UiO logo


NR logo




Institutt for informatikk Universitetet i Oslo Norsk regnesentral Nasjonalt fagråd for IKT
Contact information: