Ward Cunningham

"Howard Cunningham" redirects here. For the fictional character, see Howard Cunningham (Happy Days character).
Ward Cunningham

A bearded man in his early sixties grinning while wearing eyeglasses and a fleece jacket

Cunningham in December 2011.
Born Howard G. Cunningham
(1949-05-26) May 26, 1949
Michigan City, Indiana, United States
Residence Portland, Oregon, United States
Alma mater Purdue University
Occupation Computer programmer
Years active 1984–present
Known for WikiWikiWeb, the first implementation of a wiki
Call-sign K9OX

Howard G. "Ward" Cunningham (born May 26, 1949[1]) is an American computer programmer who developed the first wiki. A pioneer in both design patterns and extreme programming, he started programming the software WikiWikiWeb in 1994 and installed it on the website of his software consultancy, Cunningham & Cunningham (commonly known by its domain name, c2.com), on March 25, 1995, as an add-on to the Portland Pattern Repository.

He currently lives in Beaverton, Oregon, and is a programmer at New Relic.[2] Previously he was the Co-Creation Czar for CitizenGlobal.[3] He is Nike's first Code for a Better World Fellow.[4]

He has authored a book about wikis, titled The Wiki Way, and also invented Framework for Integrated Tests. He was a keynote speaker at the first three instances of the WikiSym conference series on wiki research and practice.

Personal history

Cunningham was born in Michigan City, Indiana.[5] He received his Bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary engineering (electrical engineering and computer science) and his master's degree in computer science from Purdue University. He is a founder of Cunningham & Cunningham, Inc. He has also served as Director of R&D at Wyatt Software and as Principal Engineer in the Tektronix Computer Research Laboratory. He is founder of The Hillside Group and has served as program chair of the Pattern Languages of Programming conference which it sponsors. Cunningham was part of the Smalltalk community. From December 2003 until October 2005, he worked for Microsoft Corporation in the "patterns & practices" group. From October 2005 to May 2007, he held the position of Director of Committer Community Development at the Eclipse Foundation.

In May 2009, Cunningham joined AboutUs as its chief technology officer.[6][7] On March 24, 2011 The Oregonian reported that Cunningham had quietly departed AboutUs to join Venice-based CitizenGlobal, a startup working on crowd-sourced video content, as their chief technology officer. He remains "an adviser" with AboutUs.[8][9]

As of 2014, Cunningham resides in Portland, Oregon.[10]

Howard G. "Ward" holds a Federal Communications Commission issued Amateur Radio Extra Class license. Ward's call sign is Kilo Nine Oscar X-ray, K9OX.[11][12][13][14]

Ideas and inventions

Ward Cunningham looking back on his work, May 2014

Cunningham is well known for a few widely disseminated ideas which he originated and developed. The most famous among these are the wiki and many ideas in the field of software design patterns, initiated by the Gang of Four (GoF). He owns the company Cunningham & Cunningham Inc., a consultancy that has specialized in object-oriented programming. He also created the site (and software) WikiWikiWeb, the first internet wiki.

When asked in a 2006 interview with internetnews.com whether he considered patenting the wiki concept, he explained that he thought the idea "just sounded like something that no one would want to pay money for."[15]

Cunningham is interested in tracking the number and location of wiki page edits as a sociological experiment and may even consider the degradation of a wiki page as part of its process to stability. "There are those who give and those who take. You can tell by reading what they write."[16]

According to Steven McGeady, Cunningham advised him in the early 1980s, "The best way to get the right answer on the Internet is not to ask a question, it's to post the wrong answer." McGeady dubbed this Cunningham's law.[17] Although Cunningham was referring to interactions on Usenet, the law has been used to describe how Wikipedia works.[18]

In 2011, Cunningham created Smallest Federated Wiki, a tool for wiki federation, which applies aspects of software development such as forking to wiki pages.

Patterns and extreme programming

Ward Cunningham has contributed to the practice of object-oriented programming, in particular the use of pattern languages and (with Kent Beck) the class-responsibility-collaboration cards. He also contributes to the extreme programming software development methodology. Much of this work was done collaboratively on the first wiki site.

See also


  1. Harry Henderson (2009). Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Technology. Facts On File. p. 122. ISBN 978-0-8160-6382-6.
  2. "Ward Cunningham Joins the New Relic Family". New Relic Blog. Retrieved 2014-12-02.
  3. "OUR PROVEN LEADERSHIP TEAM". Citizen Global Website. Archived from the original on May 12, 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-08.
  4. "Nike Materials Index: Open Data Hackathon". San Francisco Chronicle. August 6, 2009. Archived from the original on October 7, 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-23.
  5. "Ward's Home Page". Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  6. Bishop, Todd. (January 26, 2004) Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Microsoft Notebook: Wiki pioneer planted the seed and watched it grow. Section: Business; Page D1.
  7. Rogoway, Mike (May 18, 2007). "Inventor of the wiki has a new job in Portland". The Oregonian business blog.
  8. Rogoway, Mike (March 24, 2011). "Ward Cunningham, inventor of the wiki, has a new job in SoCal". The Oregonian business blog.
  9. "Ward Cunningham Joins CitizenGlobal". Blog.ratedstar.com. March 31, 2011. Archived from the original on October 16, 2015.
  10. Flickr: 2comc Retrieved 2014-11-10.
  11. Federal, Communications Commission. "K9OX". United States Government. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  12. Federal, Communications Commission. "Ward Cunningham". United States Government. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  13. Federal, Communications Commission. "K9OX, Expired". United States Government. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  14. TenTec, Wiki. "Ward Cunningham". Ten Tec Wiki. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  15. Kerner, Sean Michael (December 8, 2006), Q&A with Ward Cunningham, internetnews.com, archived from the original on October 7, 2012
  16. CubeSpace, Portland Oregon (December 7, 2008). "Ward Cunningham, Lecture". Cyborg Camp Live Stream – Mogulus Live Broadcast. Archived from the original on February 7, 2009.
  17. McGeady, Steven (May 28, 2010). "Cunningham's Law". Schott's Vocab. New York Times. Comment No. 119. Retrieved August 30, 2012. n.b. named after Ward Cunningham, a colleague of mine at Tektronix. This was his advice to me in the early 1980s with reference to what was later dubbed USENET, but since generalized to the Web and the Internet as a whole. Ward is now famous as the inventor of the Wiki. Ironically, Wikipedia is now perhaps the most widely-known proof of Cunningham's Law.
  18. Friedman, Nancy (May 31, 2010). "Word of the Week: Cunningham's Law". Retrieved August 30, 2012.
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