Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

Robert M. Graham

Robert Graham
in memoriam
Professor Emeritus


Robert M. Graham, 90, emeritus professor of computer science, died Thursday, January 2, 2020.

Graham came to UMass Amherst in 1975 as chair of the computer science department, serving in that role until 1981--during which time he oversaw the development of the undergraduate major in computer science, adding to the existing master's and doctoral programs--and then as a professor until his retirement in 1996. He continued to teach one course, COMPSCI 201, each semester until 2003. Graham's research at UMass Amherst focused on software development environments. 

"Bob Graham greatly influenced the shape of our department, bringing important background from the early days of computing research, including writing compilers for the IBM 650 and 709 series and working as a key member of the team that developed the landmark Multics operating system at MIT," said Eliot Moss, professor and graduate program director at CICS. "While firsthand memories of Bob will fade over time, his early guidance of the department will continue to have an enduring impact. Thank you, Bob!"

Born in Michigan in 1929, at the beginning of the Great Depression, Graham spent his early years on his grandfather's small farm and moved to a small town at the age of six when his parents found employment. After graduating high school, he studied mathematics at the University of Michigan until he was drafted into the US Army during the Korean War. It was during his deployment to Tokyo, as a clerk with the Army Security Agency, that Graham first became interested in computers. 

Graham received both a bachelor's and a master's in computer science from the University of Michigan and went on to hold faculty positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California Berkeley, and The City College of The City University of New York before joining UMass Amherst. He helped to design or implement nearly a dozen major pieces of software, including the MAD compiler, a COBOL compiler for a minicomputer, the Multics operating system, and an operating system for the IBM 709/7090.

He served as chair of ACM SIGPLAN, a member of the Computer Science Board, and associate editor of the Communications of the ACM. He was also an ACM National Lecturer.