Tom West

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Tom West
Tom West 2009.jpg
West at home in Westport MA, 2009
Joseph Thomas West

(1939-11-22)November 22, 1939
DiedMay 19, 2011(2011-05-19) (aged 71)
Alma mater Amherst College, B.A. 1962

Joseph Thomas West III (November 22, 1939 – May 19, 2011) [1] was a technologist and the protagonist of the Pulitzer Prize winning non-fiction book The Soul of a New Machine . [2]


West began his career in computer design at RCA, after seven years at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, a job he'd gotten right out of college. [3] He started working for Data General in 1974. [3] He became the head of Data General's Eclipse group and then became the lead on the Eagle project, building a machine officially named the Eclipse MV/8000. [3] After the publication of Soul of a New Machine, West was sent to Japan by Data General where he helped design DG-1, the first full-screen laptop. [3] His last project in 1996, a thin Web server, was intended to be an internet-ready machine. [4] West retired as Chief Technologist in 1998. [5]

Personal life

West was married to Elizabeth West in 1965; they divorced in 1994. [6] The couple had two daughters, Katherine West and librarian Jessamyn West. [7] West married Cindy Woodward (his former assistant at Data General) in 2001; the couple divorced in 2011. West died at the age of 71 in his Westport, Massachusetts home of an apparent heart attack. [6] His nephew, Christopher Schwarz, is a former editor of Popular Woodworking magazine, author of The Anarchist's Toolchest, and co-founder of Lost Art Press; West's death prompted Schwarz to "leave the magazine and do my own thing". [8]

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  1. "J. Thomas West 71, of Westport". Archived from the original on 25 May 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
  2. Kidder, Tracy (1981) [1997]. The Soul of a New Machine. Modern Library. ISBN   978-0-316-49170-9.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Ratliff, Evan. "O, Engineers!". Wired. Retrieved 2020-11-14.
  4. InfoWorld. InfoWorld Media Group, Inc. 15 July 1996. p. 8. Retrieved 2020-11-14.
  5. Brown, Bob (2011-12-01). "2011's Most Notable Tech Industry Deaths". CIO. Retrieved 2020-11-14.
  6. 1 2 Marquard, Bryan (22 May 2011). "Tom West; engineer was the soul of Data General's new machine". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
  7. Paul Vitello (May 27, 2011). "Tom West Dies at 71; Was the Computer Engineer Incarnate". The New York Times .
  8. "An Interview with Chris Schwarz". 26 March 2012.

Further reading