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Remembrances of Alan Kotok

From: Bell, Jim (Standards) <jim.bell@hp.com>
Date: Sun, 4 Jun 2006 17:42:43 -0700
Message-ID: <0EB0CFC9C4536543A1B1554960E879F704012A1B@cacexc09.americas.cpqcorp.net>
To: <ab@w3.org>
Cc: <public-memoria@w3.org>
I was in awe of Alan Kotok even before that day in November 1968 that I
finally met him.  I had just graduated from Stanford, where my thesis
research had been done using a PDP-10 (designed by Alan) and had spent
more than a few of my leisure hours playing Space War (the first video
game, also co-designed by Alan). So when I went to Digital for a job
interview and met Alan, I was already familiar with his technical
talents. But I hadn't anticipated  the warmth of his personality and
his down to earth style.
For the next decade he and I worked closely together at Digital, since
he was the architect of Digital's high end hardware systems and for
several years I designed compilers and operating system software for
those systems.
We also crossed paths outside of work. Alan had always wanted to learn
to play the piano. As it happened, he chose to study with the same local
young woman who was already teaching my pre-school daughter, Jennifer.
Alan's lessons lasted longer - by the time Jennifer saw her teacher
again (at a W3C dinner), Judie and Alan had already been happily married
for over a quarter of a century! (The picture at
http://www.kotok.org/AK-JK-Organ-Tour.jpg brings back fond memories of
both Alan and Judie.)
When I became involved in W3C activities representing HP about a decade
ago, one of the pleasant surprises was the opportunity to interact with
Alan again. I was impressed by his versatility; the same human and
technical problem solving skills he had displayed at Digital turned out
to be equally effective on the quite different challenges he faced at
Being around Alan was always a joy. He approached life as the consummate
engineer - cool, logical, and objective. But all of us who knew Alan
also appreciated his softer side, including his keen sense of humor. He
was so alive when we were with him last week that it is difficult to
accept that we will be hearing his laughter again only in our memories. 
Alan was not only a man of extraordinary talents but a warm, vibrant,
caring friend and colleague. Over our long friendship, my awe of him
lasted and my appreciation of him kept on growing.
He will be missed but never forgotten.
- Jim Bell
Received on Monday, 5 June 2006 15:38:02 UTC

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