It is with great sadness that we announce John’s death on Friday, February 2, 2024. He was born in Maryland, USA to William and Bertha Walker, who preceded him in death. John is survived by his wife Roxie Walker and a brother, Bill Walker of West Virginia.

Declining to follow in his family tradition of becoming a medical doctor, John attended Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) to pursue a future in astronomy. However, after he discovered the brave new world of computers, he never looked back. John worked at the university’s Project Chi (X) computing center where he studied computer science and earned a degree in electrical engineering.

John met Roxie on Thanksgiving Day in 1972, and they married the following year. Roxie and John drove cross-country a few months later for John’s new job in California. Eventually he left that first job and worked at various others in the bay area. In late 1976, John designed his own circuit board based on the then-new Texas Instruments TMS9900 microprocessor. This venture became Marinchip Systems, and eventually led to Autodesk.

The beginnings of Autodesk are well documented by John himself in The Autodesk File and from there John’s story is best told by John himself in his prodigious work, which is all methodically organized and available to the public at his website Fourmilab.

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This announcement has been posted on behalf of John’s family. The Scanalyst web site, created by John, seems the most fitting place to celebrate John’s life and legacy.

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RIP, John. You will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to your family.

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CTLaw

8 February 2024 03:40

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Former Ricochet/Ratburger member 10Cents writes:

First off, I suppose I should say I don’t feel up to the task to write a tribute for John Walker. I am sure others are more able. That is true, but here is my Dime’s worth.

I got to know John Walker on the ricochet.com audio meet-ups (AMUs). He was a regular caller. Someone recently said that he was on those for over ten years. The AMU started at Ricochet but after I left there I started various ones which John joined. First at BallDiamondBall, then Ratburger which became the Scanalyst AMU without me. My guess he spent at least five hours a week since there were two or three calls per week. The AMUs were started by Curious John then through attrition I was left in charge. Now CTlaw is Mr. AMU.

I admired John for kindness in explaining things to almost anyone. I also appreciated his off-beat humor and stories. I learned a lot from him.

I don’t know about others, but I felt unbelievably surprised that someone like John would spend time with me. For me it was like going to the candy store but instead of candy it was insights and ideas. He brought so much to the table.

John was easy to take for granted because he was always there. He was a fixture in our lives. That fixture is gone. It is a struggle to think of life without him. It is hard not to cry at times.

I don’t know why John enjoyed our company but he did. I remember he teasing me when I came on a call. “There goes the neighborhood.” One of the last calls he invited me to “The Cheap Seats”. This was a part of his site where public domain movies could be seen. I am glad that the Ratburger experience showed him the way to start a forum site. He loved interacting with people on Scanalyst. And didn’t have the frustration of WordPress there.

For those of us who got a lot of John’s time there are unending memories. For those of us who got a lot of John’s time, we struggle without the voice and wit we relied upon. I for one bow my head and humbly say thanks. I do wish I could have had a little bit more though.

I remember that John gave to this community day in and day out for years, first at Ratburger then at Scanalyst. He didn’t get a break. I calculate it was about six years. I am writing this post to fulfill my debt of gratitude to a kind man

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I posted John’s obituary to Hacker News, and there was a lovely outpouring of thanks and gratitude for John and his works.

The site management put up the “black armband”; the header of the page has a black top border. This is traditionally done in memoriam of a significant figure in the tech/science community dying.

news.ycombinator.com

John Walker, founder of Autodesk, has died

616 points —
106 comments —
jdougan —
2:33 AM – 8 Feb 2024

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