Birthday Greeting

Happy Birthday, dear friend. It is a pleasure to recall the history of our friendship, person to person and family to family. We first met in June 1959, when Shulamit and I returned to SRI from a leave of absence at the Weizmann Institute. I returned to rejoin the Computer Science Group and you had recently joined the Magnetic Logic group within the Computer Techniques Laboratory. Hew Crane, who had earlier come to SRI to help me and others debug the design for the ERMA computer, was leading an effort to develop logic modules using only magnetic phenomena. Helping him, I recall, was your first SRI assignment.

I recall the days at SRI from the genesis of your thinking about human augmentation to the early research efforts and the realization of your vision in the on-line system. We talked about theory, technology and various managerial struggles. Looking back I can see how the questions you were pursuing helped to place your contributions on a strong foundation; for example: what are the essential properties of a digital building block that must be satisfied in a given technology, how must these properties scale over a large size range, what are the essential qualities of human problem solving that an augmentation system must support, how can a community of augmented problem solvers be organized to most effectively support community augmentation, is it practical to build a system using only the most primitive tools as a starting point, what are the appropriate rolls for Intelligent systems and augmentation systems, how can human relations within an augmentation community be enriched to support individual satisfaction and productivity? Above and beyond these was your question: What is the best use of our brief time as professional workers. These are magnificent questions, but in various forms, others were asking them too. Your departure from the crowd was in your effort to pool the answers together to create a road map for experimentation and a road to applying them in the service of society, as opposed to carving them up as separate research topics. Your achievement was not only in realizing the answers in a very impressive, pioneering support system but in continually driving your vision forward to new horizons. I did not participate in your work but as a co-manager in the division I was able to follow your professional and managerial struggles. It has been a special pleasure to see the huge list of honors that have been bestowed on you for your achievements and to hear the praise of giants in our field. It is also a special pleasure to know that Ballard lived to see some of that recognition. That pleasure is tempered by recalling the difficulties you had in explaining your vision to skeptics. Of course, now your vision is the paradigm used by literally billions of people in their use of computers.

At the personal level, we were all young engineers, many with training starting in the armed forces, then on to university with benefits from the GI Bill. Mostly newly married, most with children; some from big cities, some from small towns, east coast and west, then almost all US born (a few from the UK, Canada and Israel.) We formed a social community, with folk dancing, hiking, family .excursions and simple social activities, like beer making and track running and then wine making. Most of us were about the same age but there were several couples older and wiser, but not less visionary. Lifelong friendships were formed that have enriched our lives. In all of these activities, you were a cheerful and dependable friend. Above these words I must speak of your smile and your voice, which give a special spirit to our relationship.

Doug, enjoy the love your friends feel for you and have a great time on your birthday.

Jack and ‘Shulamit Goldberg


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