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Background of the Timor Programming Language

The design of the Timor programming language began towards the end of 1999 at the University of Ulm in Germany under the leadership of Prof. James Leslie (Les) Keedy. He had witnessed the increasing popularity of the Java programming language with growing unease, as he considered that this – like most of its predecessors, did not do justice to important software engineering principles.

His approach to computer science is strongly influenced by his early experiences as a member of the design team of ICL's VME-B operating system. That system was designed in the late 1960s and early 1970s (see as the main operating system for the ICL2900 series ( The leader of the OS design team was Brian Warboys (, who later became Professor of Software Engineering at the University of Manchester and whose influence Prof. Keedy gratefully acknowledges. Despite the fact that it was designed with the aid of an interesting computer aided software engineering system (CADES, see and was written in a high level language (S3, which was strongly influenced by Algol 68), the VME-B system unfortunately suffered from many of the problems which had previously beset other huge mainframe operating systems developed by large teams of programmers.

Since that time Prof. Keedy's research has been directed towards various aspects of structuring large systems (not only operating systems) and in this context he has researched extensively in areas such as computer architecture, operating systems and software engineering, and to a lesser extent in database systems and programming language design.

His two most important guiding principles have been the information hiding principle (first propounded by Parnas [1, 2, 3]) and McIlroy's idea of building large systems out of flexible small components [4]. He could never understand why these concepts have had such little influence on the design of programming languages and he found it especially disappointing that even in the twenty-first century high level language designers have not paid due attention to these concepts. Furthermore he was disappointed that a number of other programming language issues (e.g. persistence, multiple inheritance, modularity) have still not been adequately incorporated into object-oriented languages. Hence he and his research team at the University of Ulm embarked on the design of Timor, a new programming language.