Remembering Michael Hammer 1948-2008

Department Head Eric Grimson shared with his colleagues the news that Michael Hammer, EECS faculty member from 1973 to 1984 passed away Sept. 4, 2008. He was 60 years old.

In Prof. Grimson’s words: “Michael Hammer, member of our faculty from 1973 to 1984, and a colleague to many of us, sadly passed away last evening. Michael celebrated his 60th birthday earlier this year. In addition to his early work as doctoral student and faculty member, Michael was very well known as a business consultant. His book “Re-engineering the corporation: A manifesto for business revolution,” written with James Champy, was very influential, and widely used in business restructuring. His process oriented view of business management is widely known and used, and his company is still highly influential in helping business and other organizations create efficient and effective operating structures.”

Michael Hammer member of the MIT EECS faculty from 1973 to 1984, died Sept. 4, 2008

Michael Hammer member of the MIT EECS faculty from 1973 to 1984, died Sept. 4, 2008

Hammer earned three degrees from MIT: the SB degree in Mathematics in 1968, the SM in Computer Science in 1970 and the PhD in Computer Science in 1973. As a graduate student, Hammer was recognized for his skill as a lecturer, becoming Instructor in the Lab for Computer Science from 1970-73.

On receiving his PhD, Hammer was made assistant professor in the Laboratory for Computer Science at MIT. He was noted for his teaching in both regular subjects and in tutorial lectures for peers and business executives. His areas of interest included database management systems, office automation, management information systems, and strategic planning for technology.

In his final year as a graduate student, Hammer worked at the IBM Watson Laboratory in Yorktown Heights, NY, as a principal designer of a language called the Business Definition Language, BDL, a forerunner of research in programming. Subsequently, Hammer developed new semantic models for database management while continuing involvement with major industrial database projects such as pioneering the distributed database system, SDD-1, at the Computer Corporation of America.

During his tenure at MIT, Michael Hammer was promoted to Associate Professor in 1977, and was appointed Associate Director of the Laboratory for Computer Science in 1979. Eventually taking leave from MIT in 1982, Hammer applied his expertise to found and lead Hammer and Company, Inc. Despite his involvement in this company, Hammer took on an adjunct professorship in the EECS Department at MIT in 1984, offering a practical undergraduate course on applications of computers to business.

Read a tribute to Michael Hammer from MIT class of 1968 classmate, Randall Warniers.

One Response to “Remembering Michael Hammer 1948-2008”

  1. Camilo Rueda says:

    Michael was my teacher in the graduate course “programming language processors”. I was just beginning my studies at MIT and struggled with the english language but got immediately fascinated by Michael’s ease of expression and warm personality. With a german friend we recorded his classes and I remember that when we listened again to them later we were always astonished by the way he managed to mix good humor amid very technical discussions. He had a real talent for motivating his students. I send my best vows to his family.

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