Remembering Gus German (1942-2022), pioneer in Waterloo computer science

Friday, March 25, 2022

WATFOR kids at Waterloo computer science

Gus German (seated), one of the original "WATFOR kids" and a pioneer in Waterloo computer science, passed away on March 12, 2022, at the age of 79.

Robert Angus "Gus" German, one of the original "WATFOR kids," passed away on March 12, 2022.

German is remembered by friends and colleagues in the Cheriton School of Computer Science and in the Faculty of Mathematics as one of the pioneers who helped establish the university's reputation as a leader in computer science innovation in the 1960s.

He was a member of the "WATFOR kids," a group of outstanding students working under the supervision of Professor Wesley Graham, who developed a new software system for the university's cutting-edge IBM 7040 computer. The group named the new software system WATFOR, an acronym of Waterloo Fortran Compiler. The innovation drew widespread attention to Waterloo's computer science program.

As the chronology page on the Cheriton School of Computer Science website notes, "by November 1965, five Canadian schools, eleven American installations and one in Switzerland had requested a copy of WATFOR. By June of 1966, requests were received from an additional two Canadian locations, thirty-six American, and six international installations."

The WATFOR kids had earlier used the 7040 to solve a longstanding mathematical problem, the Archimedes Cattle Problem.

After his time at Waterloo, German went on to found a successful business, the Geac Computer Corporation, which provided enterprise and resource management software to organizations.

Read more about his remarkable life in the obituary in the Globe and Mail.