In memoriam: Emeritus Professor Jacobus (Koos) Verhoeff

Kunstwerk van o.a. Koos Verhoeff, te vinden op Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam

Jacobus (Koos) Verhoeff passed away on 19 March 2018 at the age of 91. From 1971 to 1988, he was Professor of computer science at Erasmus School of Economics where he was the successor to Max Euwe.

After completing his studies in mathematics at the Gemeente Universiteit in Amsterdam, Verhoeff worked at a number of institutions including the Mathematisch Centrum (Mathematical Centre) and the Technische Hogeschool Delft (later to become Delft University of Technology). He obtained his doctorate in 1969 for his dissertation on error correcting decimal codes. As Professor of computer science in Rotterdam, he encouraged - going against the prevalent trend of the time - the acquisition of a time-sharing minicomputer and the use of BASIC for educating students in the field of programming. He was also opposed to what he considered excessively high computerisation costs and he made a speech during the 1975 Boekenbal (a literary ball) in which he demonstrated how books would be obsolete within thirty years. Verhoeff made another prediction during that period which, to a certain extent, has also come to pass. He spoke then about the recreational use of computers and how playing games and similar activities would become the most important application of the computer.

Koos Verhoeff was one of the first people in the Netherlands to recognise the importance of the microcomputer. He collaborated in the design of a system of microcomputers for an automated library system and personally had an Altair 8800 imported from the United States. Thanks to him, Erasmus University Rotterdam was also at the forefront of using microcomputers in education.


In the 1980s, Verhoeff commenced with the design of works of art, initially in close collaboration with the visual artist Popke Bakker. His work was inspired by mathematical principles he had stored in computer programmes. Upon his retirement, he committed himself fully to his artistic activities. His work has been exhibited in the Netherlands and abroad and one of his artworks can be seen on campus Woudestein.

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