Brooks, Fred

Fred Brooks at the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing in Boston, MA on April 13, 1986.

Frederick “Fred” Brooks (1931 – ) is perhaps best known for his work managing the development of today’s mainframe systems. He managed the hardware development of the IBM System/360 family of computers and then managed the development its OS/360 software in the early 1960s. System/360 is generally regarded as the first family of computers, in that a single architecture was migrated across the spectrum of use from personal to corporate, high to low-end, science to business.

Working under the direction of Bob O. Evans, Brooks and his colleagues developed the System/360, the first computer product line based on the 8-bit byte. The OS/360 was also an early adopter of Direct Access Storage Devices, such as hard disks, floppy discs or CDs, to expand the versatility of machines for diverse uses.

In 1975, Brooks published The Mythical Man-Month about the realities of designing software. In this book, he outlined what has become known as Brooks’s Law, generally defined as “adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.”

Fred Brooks remains a leader in software engineering and computer graphics. His 1975 book The Mythical Man Month remains a best seller because of its insight-filled comments about the social processes involved in software development. He received the National Medal of Technology in 1985 and the ACM Turing Award in 1999. His smiling disposition and vigorous lecturing style were an attraction for me. – Ben Shneiderman


  • Harvard University (1956)
  • Duke University (1953)


  • Founding Chair (1964 – 1984), Professor (1964 – 2015), Department of Computer Science, University of North Carolina
  • IBM (1956 – 1965)



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s