Artifact Details


Boehm, Barry oral history, part 2 of 2

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Barry W. Boehm is a software engineer, professor of computer science at the University of Southern California, and former director of the Information Science and Technology Office of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. He is known for his contributions to software engineering and software engineering process models. In this oral history with David C. Brock and Lee Osterweil, Boehm discusses his work at TRW, his directorship at DARPA, and his work in the computer science department at USC. This interview with Boehm is the second in a series of two.

Boehm begins by discussing his work at TRW in the late 1980s, including research on software environments in his role as chief scientist of their Defense Systems Group. He discusses the United States Department of Defense’s growing interest in software systems and environments during this time, their engagement with the multi-institution Arcadia Project, and TRW’s involvement in this collaboration. As a result of this connection, Boehm would be hired as the director of the Information Science and Technology Office at DARPA, a position he held from 1989 to 1992.

He recounts various initiatives and the context for these initiatives during his years at DARPA. This includes the successful salvaging of the agency’s artificial intelligence funding. Boehm discusses the context for that decision, and his familiarity with both AI skeptics and AI researchers. He also recounts the role of the Capability Maturity Model (CMM) at DARPA, and the challenges of working as a software advocate within this government context.

Boehm addresses his endeavors since TRW and DARPA, namely his professorship in the computer science department at USC. He discusses developing a software engineering program there, at the prompting of TRW’s Simon Ramo, who noted that the best software engineers had both broad and deep knowledge. Inspired by the challenges of working with multiple stakeholders at DARPA, Boehm discusses the creation of the WinWin Spiral Model and software, a system used by his students to develop software programs for clients.

Throughout this interview, Boehm also compares software process models, including spiral, waterfall, agile, and DevOps approaches, the development of these approaches in the last fifty years, and discussions the software community has had about them in this time. He remarks on the prominence of software today, noting that we have entered the “software century.”




Boehm, Barry W., Interviewee
Brock, David C., Interviewer
Osterweil, Lee, Interviewer
Plutte, Max, Camera person


Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Los Angeles, CA, USA


27 p.






Software engineering; Software development; Capability Maturity Model; Ada (Software); Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA); University of Southern California; Arcadia Project

Collection Title

CHM Oral History Collection


Computer History Museum

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