Queer Tech History / Peter Landin

Anna R.
October 18, 2023

Peter Landin is best known for his impact on programming language theory. His work has been monumental in developing many languages that are instrumental in how we use computers today.  

Landin is responsible for inventing the stack, environment, control, dump SECD machine, the first abstract machine for a functional programming language, and the ISWIM programming language, defining the Landin off-side rule and coining syntactic sugar. His work has helped influence other languages, such as Python and Haskell. In 1967, he went on to chair at Queen Mary College in London. He would later go on to teach, thereby influencing future generations. 

Throughout his life, Landin was political, joining the anti-war movement of the 1960s and the gay liberation movement of the 1970s. Towards the end of his life, Peter became convinced that computing had been a bad idea, supporting profit-taking corporate interests and a surveillance state, and that he had wasted his energies in promoting it. While the computing and tech industry might not have become what Landin imagined, his work still significantly impacts daily life. 

References & Resources 

Eric Normand- Peter Landin 

Peter Landin obituary

Landin’s Computing Machine Explained