Archive for the 'Memorials' Category

Douglas C. Engelbart (1925-2013)

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Doug Engelbart RIPIn Memoriam: Douglas C. Engelbart (1925-2013)
Inventor of the Computer Mouse, Computer Pioneer

MadMaze-II Now Hosted on

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

MadMaze-II Title Image

In 2006, I wrote about a version of the classic Prodigy game MadMaze that had been adapted for the web by Russell D. Brown, an electronics engineer based in Rome, New York.

Just today, a commenter on that original post (thanks Joshua) let me know that Russell Brown passed away last year on July 1st. That means his implementation of MadMaze-II is now offline.

(Please note that the original author of MadMaze, Greg Costikyan, is still alive and kicking as far as I know.)

Luckily for all of us, I asked Russel Brown back in 2011 to share his MadMaze-II code with me in case his version of the game ever went down. He complied, and I have just now set up a fresh copy of his adaptation on this web server at the following address:

The game still requires Internet Explorer 5 or up, and it seems to work in IE 9 for me. Brown programmed the game in such a way that obfuscated its function to prevent cheating (he even incorporated a copy protection scheme), so at the moment I have no idea how to successfully modify it if players find any bugs. But if you encounter any problems, please feel free to let me know, and I’ll have a look.

Have fun in the maze. And may Russell Brown rest in peace.

[ Update – 01/18/2017: Thanks to the work of Brandt Horrocks, MadMaze-II now works in Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox web browsers. Read more about it here. ]

Aaron Swartz (1986-2013)

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Aaron Swartz RIPIn Memoriam: Aaron Swartz (1986-2013)
Software developer, Internet activist
(Photo: Daniel J. Sieradski)

Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. (source)

Jack Tramiel (1928-2012)

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Jack Tramiel RIPIn Memoriam: Jack Tramiel (1928-2012)
Founder of Commodore, ex-CEO of Atari Corp.

Dennis Ritchie (1941-2011)

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Dennis Ritchie in MemoriamIn Memoriam: Dennis Ritchie (1941-2011)
Developer of the C programming language, co-creator of UNIX

Few individuals have been as influential in the field of computers as Dennis Ritchie. Programmers have used his language, C, to author much of the world’s best software. UNIX, an operating system Ritchie first co-developed in 1969, led the way for all modern interactive operating systems, including MS-DOS, Linux, and Mac OS X. UNIX still forms the conceptual and technological basis of most server operating systems in use today. Ritchie will be richly missed.

Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Steve Jobs co-founder of AppleIn Memoriam: Steve Jobs (1955-2011), co-founder and ex-CEO of Apple, Inc.

Ladies and gentlemen, a legend has fallen.

Jerry Lawson (1940-2011)

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Jerry Lawson creator of Fairchild Channel F and Black Video Game PioneerIn Memoriam: Gerald A. Lawson (1940-2011), black video game pioneer.

I am very saddened to announce the passing of a truly important figure in the history of video games. Jerry Lawson died Saturday morning, April 9th, 2011, at the age of 70.

Lawson was notable not only for being a rare African American electronic engineer in Silicon Valley, but also for leading the team that created the world’s first ROM cartridge-based video game console. I speak, of course, of the Fairchild Channel F, which hit the market in August 1976.

Lawson did an interview for this site in 2009, and I am proud to say that the feature brought this amazing man some long overdue recognition. The IGDA honored Lawson’s contributions to the industry during an informal session at this year’s Game Developer’s Conference on March 4th, 2011.

I heard the news of Lawson’s death only this afternoon from David Erhart, a personal friend of Lawson. Erhart tells me that he and Lawson were planning to go to a ham radio swap meet Saturday morning, but he received a call from Jerry’s wife on Friday night telling him that Lawson was in the ICU. The next morning, his wife phoned Erhart again to say that Lawson had died.

The cause of death is unknown to me at the moment, but I do know that Lawson struggled with severe diabetes for years. An obituary for Jerry is in the works, and I will post an update whenever I receive it (or a link to it).

Rest in peace, Jerry. Thank you for all you’ve done for us. History will not forget your name.

[Update (04/14/2011) – David Erhart was told by Lawson’s family that Lawson died of a heart attack. “He was feeling bad Wednesday afternoon/night as was taken to the hospital,” Erhart wrote in an email. “He then died at 6:15am Saturday morning.” This New York Times obituary quotes Lawson’s wife as saying that Lawson died from “complications of diabetes.”]

Ken Olsen (1926-2011)

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Ken Olsen co-founder of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC)In Memoriam: Ken Olsen (1926-2011), co-founder and ex-CEO of DEC.

Ed Roberts (1941-2010)

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Ed RobertsIn Memoriam: Ed Roberts (1941-2010), creator of the Altair 8800.

Electronic Gaming Monthly (1989-2009)

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

Electronic Gaming Monthly - May 1993In Memoriam: EGM (1989-2009), American video game magazine par excellence.

As far as I can recall, this is the first issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly I ever bought. I spotted it on a newsstand in a grocery store and begged my mom to buy it for me. Over the next few months of 1993, I bought each new issue from the same source until I convinced my parents that it would be cheaper just to subscribe. So they signed me up, and I’ve been a subscriber to EGM ever since.

Until now. Troubled publisher Ziff-Davis — owner of the 1UP Network and EGMrecently announced the sale of its 1UP property to UGO Entertainment. Sadly, EGM isn’t going along for the ride, but is instead shutting down. January 2009 will be the last issue of EGM in print.

Prior to discovering EGM, my only exposure to video game magazines had been Nintendo Power, the official Nintendo-sanctioned magazine devoted only to Nintendo products. As a publication, Nintendo Power spoke with a sterile, self-censoring voice that was low on speculation and high on propaganda. In contrast, EGM, with its edgy style, gossip column, international coverage, and devotion to multiple platforms (including arcade! — that blew my young mind), opened up a whole new side of the video game industry to me and ignited a passion for the field that persists to this day.

EGM Covers

As a writing professional, EGM’s closure stings for reasons beyond simple fandom. Since writing for and visiting EGM’s offices in early 2008, I’ve been fortunate enough to befriend a number of EGM’s editors and staff. As news goes around that over 30 employees’ jobs fell victim to the shakeup, I find myself wincing and hoping the best for all of my colleagues in writing and publishing. Those that met the unsparing axe of nickel-and-dime economics will likely find new jobs elsewhere in time — hopefully sooner rather than later. Until then, I wish them the best of luck, and I’d like to thank EGM’s staff (past and present) for twenty years of incredible, inspiring work.