Dr. Brad J. Cox Ph.D.
1944 - 2021
Dr. Brad J.

Cox Ph.D

Dr. Brad Cox, Ph.D of Manassas, Virginia, died on January 2, 2021 at his residence. Dr. Cox was a computer scientist known mostly for creating the Objective – C programming language with his business partner, Tom Love, and for his work in software engineering (specifically software reuse) and software componentry. Brad was born on May 2, 1944 in Fort Benning, Georgia, to the late Nancy Hinson Cox and Dewey McBride Cox of Lake City, South Carolina. Brad grew up on the family's dairy farm in South Carolina but found himself most interested in science. After graduating from Lake City High School, he received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Organic Chemistry and Mathematics from Furman University, and his Ph.D. from the Department of Mathematical Biology at the University of Chicago, and worked on an early form of neural networks. He soon found himself more interested in computers and got a job at International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT) and later joined Schlumbeger – Doll Research Labs, and ultimately formed his own Connecticut startup, Productivity Products International (PPI) later named Stepstone. Among his first known software projects, he wrote a PDP-8 program for simulating clusters of neurons. He worked at the National Institutes of Health and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute before moving into the software profession. Dr. Cox was an entrepreneur, having founded the Stepstone Company together with Tom Love for releasing the first Objective-C implementation. Stepstone hoped to sell "ICPaks" and Dr. Cox focused on building his ICPak libraries and hired a team to continue work on Objective-C, including Steve Naroff. The late Steve Jobs', NeXT, licensed the Objective-C language for it's new operating system, NEXTSTEP. NeXT eventually acquired Objective- C from Stepstone. Objective-C continued to be the primary programming language for writing software for Apple's OS X and iOS.

Dr. Cox won a Paul Allen Distance Education Award in 1998 for his online course, "Taming the Electronic Frontier". In 1991, Dr. Cox published his book, Object Oriented Programming: an Evolutionary Approach and in 1996 published Superdistribution: Objects as Property on the Electronic Frontier which was translated into 10 different languages.

Dr. Cox joined George Mason University's Program on Social and Organizational Learning, developing early online courses over the internet. After leaving the academia, Dr. Cox began a career in government consulting which included assignments with Boeing and at the Pentagon. Ultimately, Dr. Cox returned to his neural net roots and worked in applying machine learning and data science to cybersecurity.

Dr. Cox was sought- after and traveled Europe extensively lecturing, making speeches and demonstrating how to program software. He and his wife, Etta, enjoyed traveling for leisure, as well, and visited the Caribbean often as they both enjoyed scuba diving. Belize especially held fond memories for them. On one scuba diving excursion while in the compound having lunch, Brad engaged a couple from Germany in conversation. Brad asked about the fellow travelers occupation and discovered he was a computer programmer. Lifewise, Brad was asked about his life's work and stated I am also a computer programmer. "What do you do?" Brad was asked. I wrote Objective-C. Astonished, the gentlerman said, "No, Brad Cox wrote that". "Hi, I am Brad Cox", was the response and the introduction. Needless to say, much conversation ensued after the scuba diving concluded. Throughout Brad's life and career, countless instances such as this one occurred repeatedly. One of Brad's mothers favorite stories to tell was about her accompanying them on one of their trips to Belize and how much she enjoyed staying on the yacht. The delectable cuisine was much to anticipate. Her interaction with the chef was most entertaining and his final presentation was most palatable and much admired. Getting to know the captain as he safely navigated them from one beautiful destination to another was most comforting in light of his calm and charismatic personality and calmed whatever fear or anxiety she may have possessed. Memories of the Belize trip she cherished until her death at the age of 98. She was very proud of her son and all of his accomplishments.

Brad enjoyed music and played the piano and the quitar. In earlier years he was a member of a band which played mostly blue grass music which was his favorite. He enjoyed communing with nature and taking long walks in the woods was to his delight. He had a wonderful sense of humor.

Dr. Cox was predeceased by his parents, Nancy and Dewey Cox of Lake City. He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Etta Glenn of Manassas, Virginia. Also, his brother, Dan (Donna) Cox, nephews Neil (Wendy) Cox and Chad (Danielle) Cox and 12 great nieces and nephews. Brooklyn, Daniel, Dixie, Ryan, Kyle, Manning, Whitt, Lacey, Eli, Tatum, Harper, and Kingston Cox, all of Lake City, South Carolina.

A memorial service in celebration of his life is planned for Wednesday, January 13, 2021 at 11:00 am at Cornerstone Ministries, 1900 New Zion Rd. Lake City SC, 29560.
To plant trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published by SCNow on Jan. 8, 2021.
Memorial service
Cornerstone Ministries
1900 New Zion Rd., Lake City, South Carolina
Funeral services provided by:
Pierce Funeral Home and Cremation Services
Sponsored by Pierce Funeral Home and Cremation Services.
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18 Entries
Thank you Brad Cox for giving us a way to understand the beauty behind the Internet and codes. You are an amazing person. Thank you again!
Jack H
February 3, 2021
Steve Baranski
January 27, 2021
I'm just another Objective-C programmer (still currently using at my job) who wants to acknowledge a debt to Brad Cox for creating such a fine language. RIP.
Mario Diana
January 25, 2021
Rest in peace. Your legacy will live on! Thank you, Dr. Cox, for being such a great person.
Dr. Mickey Lauer
January 25, 2021
Thank you Brad Cox for giving us a way to feel a little bit like Smalltalk programmers while using C. It was a lot of fun, we all built some amazingly new capabilities at the time, enabled by your creativity. When I think of look at a MacBookPro, I think of NeXTstep, when I think of NeXTstep, I think of you. Thank you again! You really helped us programmers get out of a rut and into thinking anew. May your memory long live!
Geoffrey Knauth
January 24, 2021
thank you
January 24, 2021
I never knew Brad but I have worked with Objective C for more than 15 years, it´s still the best language available to make Apple software with and still has a lot of potential to grow. He was a brilliant man, and will be missed.
Paul Jacobs
January 23, 2021
Thank you for all your contributions Brad.
Gabriel Lim
January 23, 2021
It sad the first time I learnt who created Objective-C was on this page at this moment. Love and hate this language for many years. But undoubtedly, it became part of my life and became products I created for millions of customers and made people´s lives better. Thank you, Dr. Brad Cox
Bowen Huang
January 23, 2021
Objective-c programmer
January 23, 2021
Brian Walsh
January 22, 2021
I still pick up Brad´s book on Objective-C and marvel how far ahead of his time he was. Sorry for your loss.
David H
January 22, 2021
My condolences, while I don't know Brad Cox personally, and never had which would've been an absolute pleasure to meet him, I'm so utterly thankful for his life. His life gave meaning to so many others, his contribution and ultimate creation of C quite literally gave the the last 60 years the basic building blocks and has had the impression on every corner and every facet of software engineering for the past 50 some odd years. We are truly on the shoulders of Giants and Brad Cox will not be forgotten. Rest In Peace, and thank you God.
spencer pitts
January 22, 2021
My condolences for your loss, Etta. I had the opportunity to meet the two of you in Zürich in the late 1990s, and have fond memories of our walk up Mount Uto, and the stimulating conversations.
Matthias Neeracher
January 22, 2021
Sorry for your loss. Brad was an amazing man.
Will H
January 22, 2021
I paid my way through college by writing software and apps in Objective-C. Thank you for your immensely important contributions. Rest in peace.
Matt Gardner
January 22, 2021
So sorry for your loss, Etta. I wish I could have known Brad. I'm sure you two had a wonderful life together. Best wishes as you go forward without him.
Chuck Hudlow
January 16, 2021
Etta, Dan, Donna and Family: so sorry for your loss. Prayers, hoping for comfort and fond memories going your way. God bless
Patricia Lamb Sullivan
January 9, 2021