Howard G. " Ward " Cunningham (born May 26, 1949 [2] ) is an American computer programmer who developed the first wiki. A pioneer in both design patterns and extreme programming, he started programming the software WikiWikiWeb in 1994 and installed it on the website of his software consultancy, Cunningham & Cunningham (commonly known by its domain name, ), on March 25, 1995, as an add-on to the Portland Pattern Repository. He is one of the 17 original signatories of the Agile Manifesto.

He currently lives in Beaverton, Oregon, and is a programmer at New Relic. [3] Previously he was the Co-Creation Czar for CitizenGlobal. He is Nike's first Code for a Better World Fellow.

He has authored a book about wikis, titled The Wiki Way , and also invented Framework for Integrated Tests. He was a keynote speaker at the first three instances of the WikiSym conference series on wiki research and practice as well as a keynote speaker at the Wikimedia Developer Summit 2017.

Personal history

Cunningham was born in Michigan City, Indiana. He received his Bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary engineering ( electrical engineering and computer science) and his master's degree in computer science from Purdue University, graduating in 1978. He is a founder of Cunningham & Cunningham, Inc. He has also served as Director of R&D at Wyatt Software and as Principal Engineer in the Tektronix Computer Research Laboratory. He is founder of The Hillside Group and has served as program chair of the Pattern Languages of Programming conference which it sponsors. Cunningham was part of the Smalltalk community. From December 2003 until October 2005, he worked for Microsoft Corporation in the "patterns & practices" group. From October 2005 to May 2007, he held the position of Director of Committer Community Development at the Eclipse Foundation.

In May 2009, Cunningham joined AboutUs as its chief technology officer. [145] [10] On March 24, 2011 The Oregonian reported that Cunningham had quietly departed AboutUs to join Venice-based CitizenGlobal, a startup working on crowd-sourced video content, as their chief technology officer. He remains "an adviser" with AboutUs. [2] [2]

As of 2014, Cunningham resides in Portland, Oregon. [2]

Howard G. "Ward" holds a Federal Communications Commission issued Amateur Radio Extra Class license. Ward's call sign is Kilo Nine Oscar X-ray, K9OX. [2] [2] [2] [2]

Ideas and inventions

File:Ward Cunningham, Inventor of the Wiki.webm
Ward Cunningham looking back on his work, May 2014

Cunningham is well known for a few widely disseminated ideas which he originated and developed. The most famous among these are the wiki and many ideas in the field of software design patterns, initiated by the Gang of Four (GoF). He owns the company Cunningham & Cunningham Inc., a consultancy that has specialized in object-oriented programming. He also created the site (and software) WikiWikiWeb, the first internet wiki.

When asked in a 2006 interview with whether he considered patenting the wiki concept, he explained that he thought the idea "just sounded like something that no one would want to pay money for." [2]

Cunningham is interested in tracking the number and location of wiki page edits as a sociological experiment and may even consider the degradation of a wiki page as part of its process to stability. "There are those who give and those who take. You can tell by reading what they write." [2]

In 2011, Cunningham created Smallest Federated Wiki, a tool for wiki federation, which applies aspects of software development such as forking to wiki pages.


Ward created the computer game DotWar sometime around 1971.

Patterns and extreme programming

Ward Cunningham has contributed to the practice of object-oriented programming, in particular the use of pattern languages and (with Kent Beck) the class-responsibility-collaboration cards. He also contributes to the extreme programming software development methodology. Much of this work was done collaboratively on the first wiki site.

Cunningham's Law

Ward is credited with the idea: "The best way to get the right answer on the Internet is not to ask a question, it's to post the wrong answer." [2] This refers to the observation that people are quicker to correct a wrong answer than to answer a question.

According to Steven McGeady, Cunningham advised him in the early 1980s, "The best way to get the right answer on the Internet is not to ask a question, it's to post the wrong answer." McGeady dubbed this Cunningham's law. [3] Although Cunningham was referring to interactions on Usenet, the law has been used to describe how Wikipedia works. [3]

See also