“Hello World”: Brian Kernighan

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Nathans & Roncast
"Hello World": Brian Kernighan

Learning any new skill requires that scary first step. We’re honored to take our first step into podcasting with our guest Brian Kernighan, a groundbreaking computer scientist whose “Hello, World!” program reshaped the way people learned to program computers. If a budding coder can successfully input a few lines, they are rewarded with seeing “Hello, World!” on their screen, and suddenly they are on their way. It’s a metaphor for being brave enough to try something new, much like “Hot Cross Buns” serves as a piano player’s first learned piece. Brian’s program inspired the title track to our new album, a song about branching out.

In our conversation with Brian, we talk about what inspired his program, and how it felt to see it go viral well before the age of social media. We also discuss what it means to be a translator of technical matter for the masses. And we talk about why at age 83, he’s still hard at work.

Brian Kernighan is the William O. Baker *39 Professor in Computer Science at Princeton University. He has written 12 books, including “The C Programming Language” with Dennis Ritchie, which helped make C accessible to millions, and in the process making it one of the world’s dominant programming languages. He released his book, “Unix: A History and a Memoir,” in 2019. He was one of the original Unix developers.

Brian Kernighan portrait
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