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Alan Kotok at the Computer History Museum

From: Dag Spicer <spicer@computerhistory.org>
Date: Thu, 08 Jun 2006 14:23:18 -0700
To: public-memoria@w3.org
Message-ID: <op.taui04knn9ogk3@telsa>
  Dear group,

I know you share with me, and all of us here at the Computer History  
Museum, a great sadness to learn of Alan Kotok's passing, just a week  
after our lecture on the PDP-1 in which he, Harlan Anderson, Ed Fredkin,  
Peter Samson, Slug Russell, and John McCarthy participated.

I would simply wish to express our sorrow and extend our condolences to  
you for whom Alan was a lifelong colleague and friend.

Well after the event, after most had left, my colleague Kirsten and I said  
goodbye to Alan who had his knapsack slung over his shoulder and who was  
watching, by himself, the oral histories relating to our recent exhibit  
"Mastering the Game" on the history of computer chess.

This simple moment struck both of us at the time for its simplicity,  
Alan's purity of heart, and his obvious love of learning and natural  
curiosity.   I think, in the true MIT hacker spirit which Alan always  
exemplified, it's always the ones who stay behind after the lights are out  
and everyone has left who make some of the greatest contributions in life.

To learn of his peaceful passing only a few days later, made this moment  
even more poignant.

Earlier in the day, Alan had pointed out an error in a test printout from  
our recent IBM 1401 system restoration (photos attached; error highlighted  
in pink and with 'X').  In spite of this listing being posted for several  
weeks, no one noticed what Allan noted just by walking by, within five  
minutes of his arriving at the Museum for the lecture.  Impressive!

I know we, the Museum staff, feel really privileged to have seen Alan  
again and, especially, that he got to reunite with many of his old friends  
who meant so much to him.

When the time is right, I hope you might consider watching the lecture,  
which is now available on-line.  Fittingly, Alan's picture appears in the  
thumbnail for the lecture.

You may view it here:

Thank you all for sharing with us your memories of this good and decent  
man... and for describing some of his contributions to computing  
history--something that enriched our lives and will continue to do so for  
a longtime to come.



Dag Spicer
Senior Curator
Computer History Museum

1401 N. Shoreline Blvd.
Mountain View, CA  94043

Tel: +1 650 810 1035
Fax: +1 650 810 1055

(image/jpeg attachment: table_of_squares_kotok_1.jpg)

(image/jpeg attachment: table_of_squares_kotok_2.jpg)

Received on Friday, 9 June 2006 14:00:12 UTC

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