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John Walker (programmer)

John Walker (born ca. 1950) is a computer programmer, author and co-founder of the computer-aided design software company Autodesk.

Early projects

In 1974/1975, Walker wrote the ANIMAL software, which self-replicated on UNIVAC 1100 machines: this is considered to be[who?] one of the first computer viruses.[1][not in citation given][dubious ]

Walker also founded the hardware integration manufacturing company Marinchip. Among other things, Marinchip pioneered the translation of numerous computer language compilers to Intel platforms.[citation needed]


In 1982, John Walker and 12 other programmers pooled $59,000 to start Autodesk(AutoCad), and began working on several computer applications. The first to be completed was AutoCAD,[2] a software application for computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting. AutoCAD had begun life as InteractCAD, written by programmer Michael Riddle in a proprietary language; Walker and Riddle rewrote the program, and established a profit-sharing agreement for any product derived from InteractCAD. Walker subsequently paid Riddle US$10 million for all the rights.

By mid-1986, the company had grown to 255 employees with annual sales of over $40 million.[2] That year, Walker resigned as chairman and president of the company, continuing to work as a programmer. [3] In 1989, Walker's book, The Autodesk File, was published.[4] It describes his experiences at Autodesk, based around internal documents (particularly email) of the company.[5]

Walker moved to Switzerland in 1991. By 1994, when he resigned from the company, it was the sixth-largest personal computer software company in the world, primarily from the sales of AutoCAD. Walker owned about $45 million of stock in Autodesk at the time.[3]


Walker engages in personal projects, including a hardware random number generator called HotBits[6] and his Earth and Moon viewer.[7] He publishes on his personal domain,

In popular culture

Walker's interest in artificial life prompted him to hire Rudy Rucker, a mathematician and science fiction author, for work on cellular automata software. Rudy later drew from his experience at Autodesk in Silicon Valley for his novel The Hacker and the Ants, in which one of the characters is loosely based on John Walker.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Walker, John. ANIMAL Source Code.
  2. ^ a b John R. McCarty (May 30, 1986). "Micro-miracle: Autodesk has 'image' of success". The Pittsburgh Press. 
  3. ^ a b John Markoff (April 28, 1994). "Autodesk Founder Saddles Up and Leaves - New York Times". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ "Telling the Story Behind Autodesk". New Straits Times. November 2, 1989. 
  5. ^ John Walker. "The Autodesk File: Bits of History, Words of Experience". Fourmilab Switzerland. 
  6. ^ Walker, John. "HotBits: Genuine random numbers, generated by radioactive decay". Retrieved 2006-03-30. 
  7. ^ Walker, John. "Earth and Moon Viewer". Retrieved 2006-03-30. 

External links