Capers Jones is the current President and CEO of Capers Jones & Associates and Chief Scientist Emeritus of Software Productivity Research (SPR), the company he founded in 1984. Born in St. Petersburg and educated at UF, he has maintained his ties to Florida. During his school days in Gainesville, he enjoyed trekking through the woods to snorkel in many of the local springs that since have become state parks. He recalls seeing Steve Spurrier play for the UF football team and currently owns a vacation home in Port St. Lucie, where he enjoys playing golf. He came to the University of Florida in 1956, following in the footsteps of his father, Thomas Capers Jones II, also a UF alumnus and former head of the Biology Department at Seminole State. After considering studies in biology, geology, and aeronautical engineering, he ultimately chose English as his major. After many years, he remains impressed by the “high level of professionalism and knowledge” of his professors in the English Department, where he studied Old English. He was most influenced by the linguistics course he took with Dr. Thomas Pyles, and became especially interested in the application of language to scientific problems. This approach remained with him throughout his career as a computer programmer, software engineer, author, and entrepreneur.
Capers’ career began when he went to work for the magazine, Public Health Reports. His next job was with the Public Health Service. In the early days of computers, before there was formal university training, Capers worked on developing automated software for the Health Service’s medical records. He learned programming at an IBM training institute in Washington and became a professional computer programmer. He left the Public Health Service for private industry, where he worked as an analyst and programmer for the Crane Company in Chicago. Eventually he found himself working for IBM. Capers maintained the interest in language he developed during his college years, and while at IBM, he made the most of his skills. In addition to designing the company’s first software cost-estimating tool, he wrote research papers and various users’ guides. He also wrote speeches for IBM staff members. After filling in for a speaker suffering from laryngitis, Capers soon became IBM’s primary spokesperson on the topic of software. He also continued writing. From IBM, he joined ITT as Assistant Director of Programming Technology in 1981, a year that also saw the publication of his first book on computer software. In 1984, he decided to start his own business and founded SPR. Initially working out of his basement, Capers developed his own large-scale cost-estimating software and grew his company to 35 employees. He continued to write and publish.
Capers Jones is the author of 16 books on computers and software, including Patterns of Software Systems Failure and Success (1994), Software Quality: Analysis and Guidelines for Success (1997), Software Assessments, Benchmarks, and Best Practices (2000), Estimating Software Costs, 2nd edition (2007), Applied Software Measurement, 3rd edition (2008), and Best Practices in Software Engineering (2009). All of his books have been translated into Japanese, and some of them have been translated into up to six languages. In addition to his technical books, Capers, who now lives in Narragansett Rhode Island, is a noted historian. His The History and Future of Narragansett Bay was published in 2006.