Christopher Strachey: pioneer of programming languages


An early computer printout of the English computer scientist Christopher Strachey (1916–1975), held in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University. By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use,

Christopher Strachey’s first program was a game, the first computer game. When he wrote this, people thought that computers were just for maths, but he saw they could be used to play draughts.  He also programmed a rendition of the ‘God Save the Queen’, this was the first time that music had been performed by a computer.

As well as using computers for these fun creative activities, he was also a serious computer scientist working on the underlying theory of computation, and particularly programming languages.

He helped develop a way to define programming languages, using maths, to make it clear what commands in the language were meant to do.

Read more about Christopher’s research on the  cs4fn website.


Music. Program a computer to play a piece of music. Try doing this in several different programming languages, how do the languages differ? Does the performance sound identical?

This work was supported by the Institute of Coding, which is supported by the Office for Students (OfS).