The progress in computing hardware power continues unabated. Processors double their speed every two to three years and the sizes of memory and storage devices do the same.
But what is happening on the software front? The designs of the basic operating systems which we are using are quite dates and a major international theme is standardization. New designs and architectures are hardly ever attempted. Rather, layer upon layer of code are added without regard to size or efficiency. The hope is that the progress in hardware will cure all software ills. However, a critical observer may observe that software manages to outgrow hardware in size and sluggishness. Says Niklaus Wirth, one of the authors of Oberon: 'In times when the overwhelming trend is to standardize languages, operating systems, communications protocols, interfaces, and documentation methods, often long before they have proven their merits, it is important to point out that it is possible to depart from the bandwagon trail, although traveling may require endurance and cause some headache.'1)
Jürg Gutknecht and Niklaus Wirth have had courage to depart from the 'bandwagon trail' and to build a system from scratch — hardware and software. The result is the Ceres family of workstations and the Oberon operating system. To implement the Oberon system a new language has been designed which simplifies Modula-2 and adds constructs for object-oriented programming. This language, too, has been christened Oberon.