Niklaus Wirth was born in February 1934 in Winterthur, Switzerland. He studied electrical engineering at ETH (Federal Institute of Technology) in Zürich, graduated in 1959, received an M.Sc. degree from Laval University in Quebec, and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1963.
Wirth has been an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University (1963-67) and, after his return to Switzerland, a Professor of Informatics at ETH from 1968 – 1999. His principal areas of contribution were programming languages and methodology, software engineering, and design of personal workstations. He has designed the programming languages Algol W (1965), Pascal (1970), Modula-2 (1979), and Oberon (1988), was involved in the methodologies of Structured Programming and Stepwise Refinement, and designed and built the workstations Lilith, with high-resolution display, mouse, and high-level language compiler in 1980, and Ceres in 1986.
He has published several text books for courses on programming, algorithms and data structures, and logical design of digital circuits. He has received many prizes and honorary doctorates, including the Turing Award (1984), the IEEE Computer Pioneer (1988), the Award for outstanding contributions to Computer Science Education (ACM 1987), and the IBM Europe Science and Technology Award in 1989.