• 1941 November 09
    (b.) -
    2006 May 26


An American computer scientist known for his work at Digital Equipment Corporation (Digital, or DEC) and at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), he and his fellow classmates at the MIT were described by Steven Levy, in his book Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, as the first true hackers. He skipped two grades before college and after enrolling in MIT's first freshman programming class at age 16; he wrote some of the earliest computer software. He helped to develop what is sometimes called the first video game (Spacewar!). While he did not write any of the Spacewar! code, he did travel to Digital to obtain a sine-cosine routine that Russell needed. He and Robert Saunders were credited by Martin Graetz with building the game controllers that allowed two people to play side by side. Also, together with his teacher John McCarthy and other classmates, he was part of the team that wrote the Kotok-McCarthy program which took part in the first chess match between computers. After earning his bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering he left MIT to join the computer manufacturer Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) as one of the company's first few dozen employees. In his 34-year career with the company, he held senior engineering positions in storage, telecommunications and software. He was the chief architect of the PDP-10 family of computers, and created the company's Internet Business Group, responsible for several forms of Web-based technology. He is known for his contributions to the Internet and to the World Wide Web through his work at the World Wide Web Consortium, which he and Digital had helped to found, and where he served as associate chairman. He recorded an oral history at the Computer History Museum in 2004. He became the principal architect and designer of several generations of the PDP-10, DECsystem-10 and DECSYSTEM-20. He, along with Gordon Bell, Thomas Hastings, Richard Hill wrote that the DECSystem-10 accelerated the transition from batch-processing to time-sharing and single-user systems. He was the system architect for the VAX 8600 (known as Venus) which was introduced in 1984 as the highest-performance computer in Digital's history to date, operating up to 4.2 times faster than the standard at the time. While there, he recognized the Web's potential, and helped to found the World Wide Web Consortium. As technical director of Digital's Corporate Strategy Group, he was instrumental in creating the Internet Business Group which advocated early adoption and integration of Internet and Web-based technologies. Digital created the AltaVista search engine, the Internet firewall, the Web portal, the webcast and live election returns. He was a corporate consulting engineer for Digital 1962?1997, W3C Advisory Committee representative for Digital 1994?1996, vice president of marketing for GC Tech Inc. 1996?1997, member of the Science Advisory Board for Cylink Corp., a consultant for Compaq, and a content advisor for the Computer History Museum. He coordinated a birds of a feather meeting on Selection of Payment Vehicle for Internet Purchases on April 7, 1997 at WWW6 in Santa Clara, California. In La Jolla, California, he presented Micropayment Systems to the Electronic Payments Forum in 1997. He joined W3C as associate chairman in May 1997. His role involved managing contractual relations with W3C hosts and member organizations, coordinating the worldwide W3C Systems and Web Team services to millions of pages and resources on the W3C website, and maintaining the W3C host site at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), where he was a research scientist. While he was associate chairman, he was a member of the W3C management team, and worked closely with the W3C Advisory Board. He helped to establish a new W3C office in India and worked with an internal task force to reduce membership fees in developing countries. He was a major contributor to the W3C Patent Policy and chaired Patent Advisory Groups, including one for HTML. He briefly served as Domain Leader of the Technology and Society Domain which at that time included W3C's activity in digital signatures, electronic commerce, public policy, PICS, RDF metadata, privacy, and security.
  • Date of Birth:

    1941 November 09
  • Date of Death:

    2006 May 26
  • Gender:

  • Noted For:

    Contributor to the Internet and the World Wide Web as well as co-developer of what is sometimes called the first video game – “Spacewar!”, and was part of the team that wrote the Kotok-McCarthy program which took part in the first chess match between computers
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