Jan 262016
Ed Yourdon

As many of you will know by the time you read this, Ed Yourdon died last week. He was a pioneer in software engineering, author of 26 computer books and hundreds of computer articles, a prominent consultant and lecturer, and, here at Cutter, founder and longtime Editor of what is now known as Cutter IT Journal. Ed also cofounded the Consortium part of Cutter, authored many Cutter technology journals, and wrote thousands of Cutter email advisors. Most importantly, Ed was a great friend to all of us. His influence on Cutter’s mission and values endures.

My first encounter with Ed was at a CASE conference. He had just delivered a brilliant keynote that, true to form, was as entertaining as it was insightful. Admirers swarmed him like a rock star, so it was not until one of the last sessions that I was able to grab a seat next to his and approach him. My reason for tailing Ed was to discuss his monthly journal, American Programmer, which he had launched following the sale of Yourdon, Inc. I was a fan, and I thought Cutter could be a terrific future home for this exceptional publication.

American Programmer addressed all the key issues facing the software industry at the time, but in a revolutionary format. Ed focused each issue on a single topic, beginning with a call for papers that generated thoughtful, and sometimes controversial, contributions from around the world. This was pre-Internet, so the international perspective was unique. Painstaking editing by Ed’s wife, Toni Nash, transformed brilliant articles that had been a challenge to read into lucent, beautifully crafted pieces. And Ed gave perspective to the differing viewpoints, drawing conclusions and identifying trends for the diverse and global readership.

Before I had the good fortune of getting to know Ed, I thought it odd that a journal with readers and contributors worldwide, covering issues of interest to IT executives, was called “American Programmer.” But I came to understand that it made total sense. Ed was always on the side of the person in the trenches. When students or programmers wrote to Ed seeking advice, he invariably took time to answer them in detail, to encourage them, to invest the effort someone else would have reserved for an important thought leader or client. Ed was a mentor to all.

It was everyone’s good fortune that Ed continued on as Editor for many years of what we together renamed Cutter IT Journal. When he finally decided he was ready to transition to Editor Emeritus, we realized Ed was irreplaceable. No one had the same deep understanding of such a diverse range of technology topics, coupled with his level of intellectual curiosity, passion, and extraordinary writing skills. There was no one who could take Ed’s place. That’s when CITJ began its current tradition of using an expert Guest Editor for each issue.

Cutter IT Journal continues to be one of Cutter’s most popular research vehicles, thanks to Ed’s inspiration. We owe so much to Ed, not only for CITJ, but equally for his role in helping to shape so many of our products and services. Yet despite his many contributions, what we all remember most is Ed’s kind and generous nature, his wit and humor, his perfect prose, and his great wisdom — about life and everything IT. Thank you, Ed, for all you gave us.

Others from the Cutter family have written beautiful tributes to Ed. We welcome your comments, memories, and stories, too.



Karen Coburn

Karen Fine Coburn is President & CEO of Cutter Information LLC. She leads Cutter's strategic positioning and growth initiatives, including building and managing alliances as well as Cutter's relationships with its +100 consultants.


  2 Responses to “Thank You, Ed, for All You Gave Us”

  1. A very big personal loss for me. I am still in shock. Yes, you are right: Ed was always available for everyone – students, colleagues, business professionals. In fact, when I invited him to write the foreword to my ‘Mobile Enterprise Transition and Management’ (CRC press) book, he immediately agreed. And wrote a very fine foreword. There is so much to learn from Ed. The Rise and Resurrection of American Programmer is a classic. Ed – many thanks for what you have done for me (us) and may you rest in peace.
    ~ Bhuvan

    • avatar

      Thank you Ed, for being a star and shining light on the IT industry, you have opened the eyes of many working in this field, Your legacy continues.

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