Remembering George Michael


I received e-mails indicating that George A. Michael died.

George had pivotal direct or indirect roles in the following endeavors.

·         The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory develops a multi-player computer-mediated game.

o    During the summer of 1968, Kelly Booth introduced me to George and the two of them introduced me to Charles Wetherell.  George’s group was bringing two multi-terminal graphics-oriented mini-computers into the Laboratory.  Kelly and Charles worked with George.  I asked Kelly and Charles whether they would like to build a computerized referee for the game of Kriegspiel.  Decades later, George documented history related to this game in An Interview with Charles Wetherell and Tom Buckholtz.  According to Kelly or Charles, their work established techniques (for coordination among software processes) that were reused in the Laboratories first ‘official’ multi-player computerized war-games and simulations.

o    I highly recommend that anyone interested in the history of computing at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory become acquainted with the numerous oral histories (such as the above mentioned interview) George generated – Stories of the Development of Large Scale Scientific Computing at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

·         I meet Doug Engelbart.

o    George took me to visit Tymshare.  During this visit, I first met Doug Engelbart.

·         Teknekron pioneers automated document libraries.

o    George connected me with Tom Follett, who hired me into Insurance Technology Company, a Teknekron subsidiary.  Tom played key roles in developing (likely) the world’s first automated document library.  I developed applications that system users (mostly workers compensation claims adjudicators) used, helped Tom develop applications development tools, and (after Tom left to found or restart Berkeley Technical Associates) oversaw ITC company operations, including final delivery in 1977 of the automated document library components of the system.  The State of Washington reduced its average workers compensation claims adjudication time from 8 weeks to 2 weeks, eliminated 400,000 file folders, and no longer needed to dedicate 27 staff positions to finding file folders.

o    George connected me with Henry Laxen, whom I hired into ITC.

·         Berkeley Technical Associates develops pioneering administrative systems for the Contra Costa County (California, USA) Criminalistics Laboratory and for the California Department of Health Services’s program for screening newborns for genetic diseases.

o    I joined Tom Follett at Berkeley Technical Associates.  BTA delivered these systems.

·         Friends Amis pioneers personal digital assistants (PDA, then known as hand-held computers – HHC).

o    Henry Laxen, who led software development for Friends Amis, recommended that Friends Amis hire me as his replacement.  After Matsushita acquired Friends Amis, Matsushita sold (I learned later) 70,000 Panasonic HHCs.

·         Catheryne Buckholtz attends the United States Naval Academy.

o    My wife Helen knew George and his bride Heidi.  Helen and daughter Catheryne benefited from learning about one of George and Heidi’s daughter’s experience at the Naval Academy.  Later, Catheryne attended the Naval Academy.

·         Helen Buckholtz and I become friends with Doc Cooke and his wife Marion (“Mike”).

o    In approximately 1970, George recommended that, if I were to travel to Washington, D.C., I should try to meet his relative Doc Cooke (David O. Cooke – Wikipedia, David O. Cooke – DoD).  In September 1989, Doc and I got acquainted over lunch, in the Pentagon.  (That morning, I had interviewed with the Administrator of General Services.  After lunch, I interviewed with Presidential Personnel.  Less than 4 weeks later, I started serving as the Commissioner leading the General Services Administration’s Information Resources Management Service.)

o    Helen and I were privileged to become friends with the Cookes.  We even went to Thanksgiving dinner in their home.

o    During my federal service, when I wanted advice from someone not in GSA, I would call Doc.

o    Years after my federal service, Doc arranged for Colin Powell to autograph both a picture of General and Mrs. Powell with Helen and me and the copy of General Powell’s book “My American Journey” that I had read.  Doc placed his initials in the book near material about himself.

·         The Computer History Museum receives and catalogs a collection of thousands of computer manuals.

o    Before I left the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (in 1977), George gave me computer manuals collected by Raymond DeSaussure and him.  Helen and I stored those, along with ones I had collected, for decades.  In 2003, we gave the combined collection to the Computer History Museum.  Subsequently, Museum staff indicated that the Thomas J. Buckholtz, Raymond DeSaussure, and George Michael Computer Manual Collection was the Museum’s largest single collection of documents.

I can well imagine that George Michael played pivotal roles in numerous other endeavors and lives.  I hope people will tell some of those stories.

Thank you, George.

Click for information about Thomas J. Buckholtz.



One Response to “Remembering George Michael”

  1. daveshields Says:

    My oldest computer manual is for the Bendix G-15 drum computer. I wrote my first program on it about 1960, when I was not yet sixteen.

    I’ve been programming ever since.

    Bob Goldberg, now at Adobe, has worked for the Museum. He played a key role in implementing Macro Spitbol, code I last worked on in 1983 that I am now trying to bring back to life.



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