back to article RIP Bob Taylor: Internet, desktop PC pioneer powers down at 85

Robert Taylor, who oversaw the creation of the internet's precursor ARPANET, the computer mouse and the first GUI-based personal computer, has died after a long illness. He was 85. For over 50 years, Bob Taylor was at the forefront of research into computing. He had a hand in many of the technologies we take for granted today …

  1. JJKing Bronze badge
    Thumb Up

    Damn, what a man.

    WOW, why have I not heard about this guy before. What an incredible life he had and we should not allow him to be forgotten by those like me.

  2. Alistair Silver badge
    Pint

    Farewell --

    To one very smart, very cool fellow. I should have gone down to a family get together two summers ago, apparently my uncle knew him well.

  3. WatAWorld

    Sadly, though this guy had more impact on regular people's lives than all current 'celebrities'

    Sadly, though this guy had more impact on people's lives than all current 'celebrities' combined, his passing will only be noted by a handful of technical journals.

    1. Paul Kinsler

      Re: only be noted by a handful of technical journals.

      FWIW, I read an obituary in the Guardian (iirc), and a search on "bob taylor" + obit suggests other mainstream news sources also carried them.

  4. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    RIP

    Took your rest unsung genius, you earned it.

  5. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    Sounds like a rich, full and very interesting life.

    "In his early years Taylor's schooling was sporadic, and while at university in Texas he pursued many interests, eventually ending up with a major in experimental psychology and minors in mathematics, philosophy, English and religion. Psychology didn't pay the bills for his family, so Taylor moved into engineering in the 1950s, helping build nuclear missiles, which led to a job at NASA."

    What are the odds of getting anywhere near NASA or DARPA with that kind of CV today? (Not counting management, obviously.)

  6. jake Silver badge
    Pint

    I worked with Bob at DEC.

    He was one of the folks that kept Ken Olsen off the backs of those of us who were working on BSD ... Ken was a un*x hater, Bob saw it as a useful tool,

    He was a really good guy, totally down to earth, despite his ability to envision the future. No reality distortion field, he didn't need one. One of the best people I've ever had the pleasure of working with.

    On a personal note, he is the person who brought what would become my house to my attention after seeing the for sale sign go up while on a walk during his lunch break (we worked at DEC SRC on Lytton in Palo Alto).

    Old Silly Con Valley is much smaller with his passing.

    RIP, Bob. You'll be missed by many.

  7. Sir Sham Cad
    Pint

    Pint to a proper Polymath

    I mean: "minors in mathematics, philosophy, English and religion"

    Thanks for the modern Industry, Bob.

  8. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Over the last few years we've seen a generation start to pass: Doug Englebart, Dennis Ritchie, Robert Morris, Bob Norris to name but a few others. And still the kids seem to think that nobody over 40 ever knew anything.

    In Taylor's case I can't help thinking that it's not only Xerox who failed to capitalise on what he provided for them. DEC could have owned internet search with Alta Vista.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I can't help thinking that it's not only Xerox who failed to capitalise on what he provided for them. DEC could have owned internet search with Alta Vista."

      A leap of faith was required. A photocopy company building computers. A server company doing a search engine. With hindsight it's easy to see the value of Xerox work on the desktop o/s and PC industry, and the impact of the search engine on the Internet - both now multi-billion dollar industries in their own rights.

      Sounds like he was a Wozniak that needed a Jobs. What I mean is - great ideas and innovation also need capitalist bastards to turn them into marketable products and revenue.

    2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Over the last few years we've seen a generation start to pass

      It only seems that way. it's easy to see a list of "people we associate with our work/hobby" and think that "wow, we seem to be losing a lot". I think it's just a case of these are the people we recognise as having something to do with our interests - and tend not to remember the steady stream of "others". As that era was when so many of the fundamental developments happened, it's quite natural that those involved should be running out of time - lets face it, we're talking about stuff that happened half a century ago (give or take a decade).

      Heck, a lot of us weren't even born when some of this was going on !

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Over the last few years we've seen a generation start to pass: Doug Englebart, Dennis Ritchie, Robert Morris, Bob Norris to name but a few others. And still the kids seem to think that nobody over 40 ever knew anything."

      I think that;s more a reflection on our ageing process and the time period of the effective birth of the industry as we know it. Same applies to "celebrities" (and I mean the ones who work for a living!). As a child we were blissfully unaware of the regular deaths of actors, but now they seem to be dropping like flies because it's the ones we grew up with rather the old fogies we'd never heard of as kids.

      Having said that, Bob Taylor seems to have been one of the huge "stars" that most of us never heard of, RIP.

  9. BebopWeBop Silver badge
    Happy

    If true (well actually whether true or not) the Gates/Jobs exchange is amusing

  10. TomChaton
    Unhappy

    ping bob.taylor

    ping: unknown host bob.taylor

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: ping bob.taylor

      I must admit, I was thinking of dig rather then ping then realised that could be taken in bad taste.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ping bob.taylor

        You must be new here.

        Downvote for failure to make a dark, nerdy pun.

    2. Tweetiepooh

      Re: ping bob.taylor

      More like

      Destination Host Unreachable

  11. macjules Silver badge

    A great man who will be sadly missed.

    As for "It was this computer that, in 1979, inspired Steve Jobs to commission a mouse-driven graphical operating system for the Apple Lisa, just like PARC's design.", that is about the most polite way of putting it that I have ever heard.

  12. DJV Silver badge

    RIP a great Wizard

    Ah, will have to go and read Where Wizards Stay Up Late again...

  13. ChrisPv

    RIP.

    The true pioneer.

    Note: Is sad that The Register perpetuates the myth of Apple and Microsoft both stealing. Apparently good story always trumph the truth, even in 80s.

    Apple - Jobs specifically - got deal from Xerox to view their work and use their ideas. Xerox got pre-IPO Apple stock as compensation. Great deal for Apple, but deal nevertheless.

  14. John Savard Silver badge

    I remember using AltaVista before this "Google" thing started getting popular.

    And, of course, we're all immensely indebted to him for our computers with graphical operating systems and for the Internet.

  15. jimdandy
    Windows

    Old guys, old shit. It's only history and nobody under 50 even knows what that is (beyond a few years).

    But they will learn, one of these days.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dealers of lightning

    I had just completed reading the book "Dealers of Lightning", which is about the extraordinary work done at Xerox-PARC. And Bob Taylor is the hero of the book. Truly inspiring characters.

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