Programmers who defined the technology industry: Where are they now?

The future of the computer... circa 1986.

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The other 14 programmers

What about the rest of the programmers Lammers interviewed? Some seem to have disappeared entirely; I don't know what happened to John Page, who wrote PFS:File. Others are obscure to the average programmer today, such as Jaron Lanier, who wrote Atari games and was an early proponent of virtual reality worlds, or LucasFilm SoundDroid's Michael Hawley. For similar reasons, I didn't try to find Peter Roizen (T/Maker), Butler Lampson (Alto PC), or Scott Kim (Inversion).

But here are short updates about the rest, based on my online research:

Toru Iwatani, author of Pac Man, is now, according to Wikipedia, a full-time lecturer at Toyko Poly-Technic.

Andy Hertzfeld (MacOS) worked at Apple until March 1984; he was interviewed in the book as author of a program called Switcher for the Macintosh and a low-cost, hi-res digitizer, ThunderScan. Since then, he co-founded three companies: Radius (1986), General Magic (1990), and Eazel (1999). In 2002, according to Wikipedia, he helped Mitch Kapor promote open source software with the Open Source Applications Foundation. He also started a site, folklore.org, to share anecdotes about the development of Apple's original Macintosh computer, and the people who created it. Hertzfeld joined Google in 2005.

Ray Ozzie
Image credit: Microsoft

Ray Ozzie

Ray Ozzie was interviewed for the book because of his affiliation with Lotus Symphony (which beat out Ashton-Tate Framework in the marketplace, at the time). You might know him better because of Lotus Notes, which would have been a quiet twinkle in his eye in 1986. Now, of course, he is stepping down from his role as chief software architect at Microsoft.

John Warnock
Image credit: Adobe

John Warnock

John Warnock (Adobe PostScript) is among the few who are still affiliated with the same company (though Adobe is no longer known primarily as a printer OEM). He was president of Adobe for the company's first two years and CEO for the next 16 years. Warnock retired as CEO in 2000 and as the company's CTO in 2001, according to Adobe's website. Today, he is co-chairman of the board with Charles Geschke, continuing to shape direction for the nearly $3 billion company.

Bob Frankston
Image credit: www.frankston.com

Bob Frankston

Bob Frankston (VisiCalc, along with Bricklin) joined Lotus in 1985, where he created the Lotus Express product and a Fax facility for Lotus Notes. He worked for Slate from 1990-1992 on mobile and pen-based systems, then at Microsoft (1993-1998) with particular attention to home networking. He's still thinking about networking.

We have lost at least two:

Jef Raskin
Image credit: Computerworld

Jef Raskin

Apple's Jef Raskin, instrumental in the Macintosh project, died in 2005 from pancreatic cancer.

Gary Kildall
Image credit: Computerworld

Gary Kildall

Digital Research's Gary Kildall, best known for the CP/M operating system, died in an accident in 1994. Before that, he worked on an early GUI environment that competed with Windows, GEM (remember the original Ventura Publisher...?). He sold the company to Novell in 1991 for $120 million, and started another company, KnowledgeSet, which adapted optical disk technology for computer use.

My most frustrating search was for Wayne Ratliff, best known for dBase II. According to a 2007 interview, he had retired and was working on his boat, along with computer systems for competitive sailboat racing. I found no Ratliff spoor since 2007, however. Which, given the age of some of these guys, gives me a bad feeling.

Next page: Looking back on looking forward

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