Japanese Computer Pioneers

Ohno YutakaOhno Yutaka

Ohno Yutaka was born on August 24, 1924 in Tokyo. After he graduated from the Faculty of Engineering, the University of Tokyo, in 1946, he straightly got a position in the Railway Technical Research Institute (RTRI) of the Japanese National Railways (JNR) which then was a part of the Ministry of Transport. He also received the D. Eng. degree from the University of Tokyo in 1962. He was invited to be a professor of the Department of Information Science in the Faculty of Engineering, Kyoto University, in 1972. He held the chair of Information Systems. He promoted to establish the Educational Center for Information Processing in Kyoto University. After the Center was established in 1978, he served as the Director of the Center for ten years.

He is well known for his efforts to advance the education and research on information systems in the Department as well as to promote the education of a grounding in information processing for the students of all faculties of the University in the Center, until he retired from Kyoto University in 1988. On his retirement, he received the title of Emeritus Professor of Kyoto University. Then, after being a professor of Koshien University for two years, he was invited to be a professor of Ritsumeikan University in 1990. As the dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering of the University, he showed his management ability to establish three new departments and to move the Faculty itself from Kinugasa Campus in Kyoto City to Biwako-Kusatsu Campus in Shiga Prefecture. He retired from the University in 1994.

When he was in RTRI, he met with the dawn of computer technology in Japan and soon began to study and to research the computer technology and its applications in JNR under the leadership of Hosaka Mamoru, who was a senior researcher and became a professor of the University of Tokyo afterward. Ohno engaged in a research on a computerized system for the railway train seats reservations services. He designed and developed a prototype system MARS-1 for the reservations services from 1955, which was the first online real time systems in Japan. JNR began to operate the system practically for seats reservations services within the Tokaido Special Express Trains in 1960. With the success of the system, JNR had developed a nation-wide large scale system MARS-101 with enhanced functions for overall reservations services of JNR, so that the system of "Green Booking Windows" had been completed. In recognition of such results, he received the IEEJ Technical Development Award (*1) in 1960, the General Director Award of the Science and Technology Agency in 1961, and the IECEJ Achievement Award (*2) in 1968.

Furthermore, he had interest in researches on the JNR Freight Information System and the Computer-aided Traffic Control System of the Shinkansen (COMTRAC), and especially contributed to put the latter system in practical use.

In Kyoto University, Ohno took up the Software Engineering as the main research subject of his laboratory, which was then a very new research subject globally. He and his colleagues of his laboratory obtained many results in requirements engineering, design automation of software, automatic generation of software, techniques for developing parallel processing software, and new paradigm software etc. He received the IPSJ Best Paper Award (*3) with his colleagues in 1986. In addition, he served five years as the Chairman of the Advisory Committee of the SIGMA Project (*4) , which was a big project commenced by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry in 1985 to develop a network system of the software developments environment.

In academic societies, he successively held the numerous positions such as the JPSJ Director, the IPSJ Vice President, the 14th IPSJ President, the Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the 3rd USA-JAPAN Computer Conference, the 6th International Conference on Software Engineering, and the 12th International Conference on Very Large Data Base etc. Through these activities, he greatly contributed to the progress of domestic and international researches on information processing. In addition, he participated in establishing the Japan Society for Software Science and Technology and he held the 1st Chairman of the Board of Directors in the Society for four years from 1983, where he endeavored to progress the software science and technology.

As there was a concern about the stagnation of the software technology in Japan after the burst of the economic bubbles, he had established an organization for promoting the EAGL Project (*5) in 1991. He, as the President, promoted many software researches performed by more than 100 researchers from scores of universities for sevens years with the funding from about ten software-related companies in Japan.

Furthermore, in social activities, Ohno worked as a member of the Information Processing Promotion Council and as a special member of the Industry Structure Council of the MITI in late 1980s and also worked as a chairman of technical committees of several organizations. He currently holds multiple positions such as directors or councilors in several foundations. Among these, he was the first Director and the Vice Chairman of the Advanced Software Technology and Mechatronics Institute Kyoto (ASTEM) for five years, which is a foundation established by Kyoto City etc. in 1988. In addition, he was the President of the Personal Computer User's Application Technology Association for eight years from 1991, where he promoted activities to cultivate the information literacy of the people who will support the IT society. He has also been the President of Kansai TLO CO., Ltd. (*6) from 1998, which promotes the technology transfer from universities to industries.

In recognition of the above written achievements, he received the Purple Ribbon Medal in 1971 and the 2nd Order of Sacred Treasure in 1996 from the Government, and also received the Award for Personal Contribution to Information Society from the Ministry of Transport in 1975, the IPSJ Contribution Award, the IPSJ Honorary Member in 1990 and the Kyoto Prefecture Culture Prize eminent merits prize in 2001.


  • The Institute of Electrical Engineers of Japan.
  • The Institute of Electronics and Communication Engineers of Japan.
  • The Information Processing Society of Japan.
  • The Software Industrialized Generator and Maintenance Aids.
  • The Engineering Adventure Groups Linkage.
  • The Technology Licensing Organization.

He died on October 27, 2012.

(As of Aug 22, 2003)