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A selection of articles and remarks offered in memory of Professor Michael Dertouzos at the time of his passing.


Michael Dertouzos MIT Professor Michael L. Dertouzos dies at 64; IT pioneer who made technology accessible

Michael L. Dertouzos, 64, Computer Visionary, Dies

Unlikely Warrior Leads the Charge For Simpler PC


Tribute from Bill Gates for Michael Dertouzos:

Michael was an icon in the technology world, but he was also a close personal friend - one of those rare people whose warmth and wisdom always left me inspired and hopeful for the future. More than anyone else in his field, Michael understood that technology - particularly computer technology - must serve people's needs, not the other way round. He was the first real "technology humanist" - he believed that technology was largely worthless unless it truly enhanced human life, human communication, human work and play. He would often talk about his childhood in Greece, and I remember how passionate he was about what technology could do for countries such as his own. The last time I saw Michael, we discussed his most recent book and the progress we were making toward his human-centered ideal. As ever, he seemed optimistic, confident that we were getting closer than ever to achieving harmony with technology. At the same time, he knew just how much remained for us to do. It's hard for me to believe that we'll no longer have his compass to guide us. Michael's revolution truly was unfinished, and it's up to all of us to continue his great work. His legacy will be with every one of us for decades to come.

September 4, 2001


Dear Family and Friends of Michael Dertouzos,

As you gather in Athens to pay tribute to our friend and colleague Michael Dertouzos, it is an honor to send to you the love and salutations of the entire community of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Michael was larger than life. He was at once a leader, a builder, a visionary, and a caring human being. Few individuals have so personally and profoundly shaped their institutions and professional fields, yet he did so in a manner that respected and involved all of his colleagues. He was a great and committed technologist, yet even more he was a humanist. Through his ideas, writing, and professional leadership he strove to unite our spiritual and humanistic nature with our technological capabilities. He took the individual threads of human endeavor and shaped them into a more wondrous fabric. I will miss his personal friendship and counsel and the quality of his thought. I will miss his joy of living, his respect for others, and his leadership both inside and beyond MIT. And always, I will miss his extraordinary voice -- full of wisdom and humor -- and his friendly hand on my shoulder. We have lost a great man far too soon. With sorrow and respect,


Charles M. Vest

September 2, 2001


In Memoriam of Michael Dertouzos by Raj Reddy

Over three decades, Michael touched many of our lives. What I remember most about Michael is his infectious enthusiasm, love of life and his keen sense of the future role of technology. He was at once a cheer leader, team leader and catalyst. He was also our ambassador to the outside world, By far his most important contribution, in my biased view, was being an evangelist for information technology---his vision of the future directions of IT and its relevance to society. In 1980 he prophesied an "information marketplace," where people would exchange data and services by way of computer networks--in essence, an early take on today's Internet. His recent books and the creation of the WWW consortium are examples of his creative vision. He also leaves us, his friends, with an unfinished revolution. Can we make computers easy to use by ordinary citizens --- as natural a part of our environment as the air we breathe? Michael had a clear vision of what we need to do to get there and we need to follow that dream. I will always be grateful to have had him as close friend and colleague, and to have known him and worked with him. The Computer Science community will deeply miss him.
November 5, 2001


A Modest Proposal from Hari Balakrishnan:

I have a small & modest proposal for you to consider. As you know, Michael put his heart and soul into the LCS distinguished lectures, and loved the process of inviting and hosting these lecturers over the years (obviously, I only know of this over the past three years, but even I could tell the love he had for this). I propose that from this year, the LCS distinguished lectures from this year be renamed "The Michael L. Dertouzos Lectures at LCS" and (perhaps) the lecturers be called the "Dertouzos Distinguished Lecturers" during the year they give the lecture here. I also think it will be fitting if the first lecture this year started with a moment of silence so we can pray and think about Michael and what he meant to each of us.
September 7, 2001


A Tribute from Stephen L. Squires:

When I learned the fact of his departure some thoughts came to mind that I reduced to text in the form of email to "The Computer Museum History Center." "Michael Dertouzos was a fundamental force for all the best of IT and should be recognized as one of the most courageous leaders of the Modern IT era that built on the invention of the Transistor and carried it through to 2001. During played a crucial leadership role in the invention, innovation, and transition of advanced concepts in IT into what has become the de facto prototype for the first Galactic-scale Information System on Earth in the spirit of J.C.R. Licklider ." We all learned so much from him!

August 30, 2001


Dear Colleagues,

I was shocked and saddened to learn Professor Michael Dertouzos' passing away. He was the guiding hand we all looked up to in the Oxygen project. Not only that, he was a great mind in so many areas and always generous to share his knowledge with all his colleagues. I had benefited tremendously from my association with him. Above all, he was a treasured friend. I shall miss him dearly. Please keep me informed of how I may be able to best pay my last respect in the coming days.

Best regards,

Bruce Cheng Delta Electronics, Inc.

August 29, 2001



Dear Victor,

I haven't quite known who to talk to about this awful news. Strangely, the only person I really want to talk to about it is Michael himself. It is still enormously difficult to believe that this won't happen. There is so very much that one would like to have said. But there are two things about those lost conversations that I am quite sure about. One would have been Michael's almost relentless determination to move forward, to think positively and constructively, to avoid dwelling on the dark things. The other: his tremendous sense of pride in what he has accomplished. And these two aspects of Michael impel my message to you, Victor, and to send you my very best wishes as you begin to guide your colleagues through this disorienting period, and to say to you, too, that if there is anything at all I can do to be helpful in this period or at any time in the future, I hope that you will not hesitate to call on me.

Richard K. Lester

September 2, 2001