Watts Humphrey – inspirational software engineer – 1927 to 2010

by Prof Barry Dwolatzky

Watts Humphrey

I’ve just received the really sad news that Watts Humphrey died today (Thursday 28th October) aged 83 years old. 

Watts Humphrey was one of the world’s most influential figures in the field of software engineering. In 1986, after retiring as the head of software at IBM, Humphrey joined the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh USA. For the next 24 years he drove the development of the Capability Maturity Model (CMM), the Personal Software Process (PSP) and the Team Software Process (TSP). His work brought the concepts of process, measurement and continuing improvement to the software development industry. 

Watts Humphrey’s death came a few days after I unveiled my ambitious strategy to create 1,000’s of new jobs in the South African software sector. This strategy is largely based on Humphrey’s contributions to software engineering. The strategy began to take shape when I first met Watts in Mexico City in 2008, where I was leading a delegation from South Africa investigating TSP adoption. He was keenly interested in the South African software sector and its future prospects. 

Anyone who met Watts Humphrey could not fail to be inspired by his clear vision and boundless energy. His books are wonderful to read – they’re filled with the wisdom of his decades of experience and lots of common sense. 

I will always be inspired by Watts Humphrey. I remain determined to build, here in South Africa, on his wonderful work. I see his work as a tool and inspiration that will change the lives of those in our country who develop and use software.

2 thoughts on “Watts Humphrey – inspirational software engineer – 1927 to 2010

  1. It is a great loss indeed to the future of software engineering. I sincerely hope that the wealth of knowledge left behind by Watts will be put into productive use in honor of his great work.

  2. I am sure that his knowledge lives in all those who crossed paths with him. Please make sure you share it!

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