Obituaries in the News
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) _ John W. Tukey, a Princeton University statistician credited with coining the word ``software,″ died here Wednesday. He was 85.
The cause of death was a heart attack after a short illness, said his sister-in-law, Phyllis Anscombe.
As a professor at Princeton and researcher for AT&T’s Bell Labs, Tukey developed important theories about how to analyze and present data clearly.
But his most widely recognized contribution is his introduction of the term ``software″ to describe the programs used to run early computers. It first appeared in a 1958 article he wrote in the journal American Mathematical Monthly.
Tukey also is credited with coining the term ``bit″ _ an abbreviation of ``binary digit,″ which describes the 1′s and 0′s that are the foundation of computer programs.
Born in New Bedford, Mass., Tukey graduated from Brown University in 1936 with a chemistry degree. Over the next three years he earned a graduate degree in chemistry from Brown and two in mathematics from Princeton. He became a full professor at the age of 35, and in 1965 became founding chairman of the university’s statistics department.
Tukey worked as a consultant to corporations, including the Educational Testing Service, Xerox and Merck. From 1960 to 1980, he helped design polls that the NBC television network used in its election coverage.