SYDNEY — The University of New South Wales in Australia (UNSW), today announced that a seven-year campaign by alumni to establish a chair in the name of their former mentor finally has paid off. With the help of a generous $500,000 donation from U.S.-based QUALCOMM Incorporated, former students have succeeded in establishing the John Lions Chair in Operating Systems 2006.
Former students John O'Brien, Greg Rose, Steve Jenkin, Chris Maltby and others have worked over the years to raise the money in honour of the former professor and author of a controversial book on UNIX systems.
Greg Rose, vice president of technology for QUALCOMM and John O'Brien, managing director of Whitesmiths Ltd, donated substantial sums of their own money in a bid to raise the funds for the Chair.
"This is the first time that a group of alumni have established a Chair through their own efforts and I applaud their dedication and tenacity," said UNSW's Vice-Chancellor Professor Mark Wainwright.
John Lions graduated from Sydney University in 1959 with an honours degree in Applied Mathematics. He received a doctorate from Cambridge University in 1963 and worked in Canada and the U.S.
In 1972 John moved back to Australia with his wife and family to take up the position of senior lecturer with then University of New South Wales' Department of Computing. He became associate professor in 1980 and lectured until 1995, when he retired due to poor health. John Lions later died in 1998.
During the mid 70s, in order to better teach his students, John wrote commentary on the UNIX code. His book was regarded as a threat to intellectual property and became the world's most illegally copied book.
"The manuscript was a revelation to students," recalls Greg Rose. "The book quickly gained a reputation among the programming community and became a technical bible for students, hackers and qualified professionals throughout the world."
In 1996, two years before John's death, the book was finally legally published. It continues to be used today and is regarded as a classic.
Professor Paul Compton, the head of the School of Computer Science and Engineering at UNSW said that: "It can be argued that John's Lions book was a key factor in developing the Open Source movement, which is based on studying and building on code that others have written. For many years photocopies of his commentary on Unix provided the only access to the Unix kernel source code outside Bell Laboratories.
"The University is very grateful to John's students and others in the Open Source community for honouring his memory in this way. UNSW has a very strong research reputation in Open Source; the chair will further strengthen this as well as honour John's memory."
The University of New South Wales has over 40,000 students and has awarded more than 180,000 degrees and diplomas since its foundation in 1949. It is one of the world's leading international universities with a strong background in science, engineering and technology.
Luciano Ferracin, Development Officer Engineering
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Date Issued: Nov 11, 2005