James G. Mitchell

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James George Mitchell
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma materUniversity of Waterloo, Carnegie Mellon University
Known forWATFOR compiler, Mesa (programming language), Spring (operating system), ARM architecture
AwardsJ.W. Graham Medal in Computing and Innovation
Scientific career
FieldsComputer science
InstitutionsOracle, Sun Microsystems, Acorn Computers, Xerox PARC
ThesisThe design and construction of flexible and efficient interactive programming systems (1970)
Academic advisorsJ. Wesley Graham

James George "Jim" Mitchell is a Canadian computer scientist. He has worked on programming language design and implementation (FORTRAN WATFOR, Mesa, Euclid, C++, Java), interactive programming systems, dynamic interpreting and compiling, document preparing systems, user interface design, distributed transactional file systems, and distributed, object-oriented operating systems. He has also worked on the design of hardware for computer graphics, high-level programming language execution, and audio input/output.[1]


Mitchell was born in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. He grew up in Cambridge, Ontario, and graduated with a degree in mathematics from the University of Waterloo in 1966. Mitchell began working with computers in 1962 while a student at the University of Waterloo. He and three other undergraduates developed a fast compiler for the Fortran programming language named WATFOR (Waterloo FORTRAN), for the IBM 7040 computer.[2] The project, initiated by Professor J. Wesley Graham, established Waterloo's early reputation as a centre for software and computer science research by helping the first generation of computer science majors learn to program. He then graduated with a PhD in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University in 1970.[3] His dissertation is titled “The design and construction of flexible and efficient interactive programming systems”.[4]


From 1971–84 Mitchell was at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and eventually became a Xerox Fellow. In 1980–81, he was Senior Visiting Fellow at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory. He was head of research and development for Acorn Computers (U.K.), where he managed the development of the first ARM architecture reduced instruction set computer (RISC) chip and was President of the Acorn Research Centre in Palo Alto, California.

Mitchell joined Sun Microsystems in 1988 and was in charge of the Spring distributed, object-oriented operating system research in Sun Microsystems Laboratories and the SunSoft subsidiary. He became Vice President of Technology & Architecture in the JavaSoft Division and then Chief Technology Officer, Java Consumer & Embedded products. Later, he was Vice President in charge of Sun Microsystems Laboratories. Subsequently, he became Principal Investigator on the High Productivity Computing Systems (HPCS) program sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Sun. When Oracle Corporation acquired Sun Microsystems in 2010, he was appointed Vice President of Photonics, Interconnects, and Packaging at Oracle Labs. On March 1, 2014, Mitchell retired from Oracle Labs. In 2013, he joined the board of directors of the Curci Foundation, which funds research in the life sciences. As of December 2021, he remains on the board, and is Science Advisory Board Chairperson.[5]


In 1997, he was awarded the J.W. Graham Medal in Computing and Innovation from the University of Waterloo.[6][7]

In 2008 he was awarded the Fr. Norm Choate, CR, Distinguished Alumni Award from St. Jerome's University.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "James Mitchell". The People at Oracle Labs. Oracle Corporation. Archived from the original on June 16, 2012. Retrieved April 1, 2011.
  2. ^ Schick, Shane (2007-04-09). "U of Waterloo alumni look back on creator of Fortran variant: Wes Graham was critical to the development of popular WATFOR". IT Business. Archived from the original on 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2012-12-17. Mitchell, now a Sun Fellow at Sun Microsystems, wrote a student paper in 1965 about building a fast compiler. That's when he was called into Graham's office. "The teacher from the program was there, and the paper was on Graham's desk," Mitchell said. "He said, 'So, do you think you could really do this?' And I said 'Yes, with some extremely good programmers."'
  3. ^ "Computer innovator to visit". news release. University of Waterloo. May 26, 1997. Retrieved April 3, 2011.
  4. ^ Mitchell, James George (1970). The design and construction of flexible and efficient interactive programming systems (PhD). USA: Carnegie Mellon University.
  5. ^ "Dr. James Mitchell". Shurl and Kay Curci Foundation. Torrance, California.
  6. ^ "Java: Where You Want to *Be* Tomorrow: Dr. Jim Mitchell, 1997 Recipient of the J.W. Graham Medal in Computing and Innovation". University of Waterloo, Canada. May 30, 1997. Retrieved April 1, 2011.
  7. ^ "Recipients of the J.W. Graham Medal in Computing & Innovation". University of Waterloo. Retrieved 2015-09-25.