Archive for the 'Memorials' Category
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.
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."]
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 EGM — recently 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.
As a writing professional, EGM's closure stings for reasons beyond simple fandom. Since writing for 1UP.com 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.