September 29, 2010, 11:21 AM — Although 2010 is only three-fourths over, we have already seen the passing of five major figures in the tech industry, including a former FCC commissioner, the founder of MCI and a senator who inadvertently created an Internet meme because of one memorable quote.
Here's a closer look at some of the people whose passing will leave the tech industry a little emptier. (Also see: 2009's notable deaths in IT)
John "Jack" Goeken, 80
As the founder of MCI, Goeken was truly a legend in the telecom industry. Goeken became one of the major pioneers of mobile voice communication in the United States when he founded Microwave Communications in 1963 to set up microwave towers to provide long-distance telephone service between Chicago and St. Louis. Goekin ran the company, which later became known as MCI, until 1974 when he left to found Airfone, the first-ever air-to-ground telephone service. Anyone who loves their smartphones owes Goeken a debt of gratitude for getting the ball moving on mobile long-distance communications.
Senator Ted Stevens, 86
Ted Stevens was a mainstay of Alaska politics, as the Republican stalwart served in the United States Senate for more than 40 years. Stevens gained fame in tech circles when he described the Internet as a "series of tubes" during a debate on network neutrality. The full quote from Stevens: "The Internet is not something that you just dump something on. It's not a big truck. It's a series of tubes. And if you don't understand, these tubes can be filled, and if they are filled, when you put your message in it gets in line, and it's going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material." While Stevens' grasp of web technology was fairly dubious, the phrase "Intertubes" became a popular meme in tech circles as an alternate word for the Internet. The Intertubes wasn't Stevens' only contribution to the tech industry though, as he was a major proponent of telework and a key figure in net neutrality debates. Stevens died in a plane crash in Alaska this year along with five others.
James Quello, 95