Mike Culbert, RIP

I just read that Mike Culbert, who was the chief technologist on the Apple Newton (and went on to do a lot of other neat stuff at Apple) has died of cancer.

We’ve lost another really great engineer. Mike was one of those rare people who “got” entire systems, from transistors and batteries all the way to how the user worked with the system. He was comfortable with hardware design and could sling code pretty well, too. He had a great sense of clean design and a wonderful and sarcastic sense of humor (the Newton prototypes he designed for us were dubbed, by him, “Bunwarmers” — presumably because that’s all that us software types did all day long on those things). I enjoyed the time we worked together.

My condolences to his famiy and friends.

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5 Responses to Mike Culbert, RIP

  1. C'est moi says:

    He sounds like one of those “tall, thin men”* I once read about as a youngster and desperately wanted to become. Twice I’ve taken pay cuts just to get experience in other areas and broaden my know-how knowledge. However, over a quarter of a century later and I’m still not there. Close, but still pretty far away.

    It’s when the old geezers disappear that we realise that we’re the ones that are supposed to be taking their places! Maybe we should think about that a bit more. Are we worthy rôle models?

    *” Cray’s engineering style was similar to other ‘tall, thin men’ working in the penumbra of national security in the 1950s and ’60s: like Clarence “Kelly” Johnson (who designed the U-2 in mere months) or General Bernard Schriever (who spearheaded the Atlas missile program)” — Dag Spicer, Dr. Dobb’s Journal.

    • Why take their place? They had their own life, just as you have yours. Besides it feels to me kinda strange that you wanna imitate going uphill both ways in the rain to build a brick factory. They already created bricks, why not use them and focus on whats really important? Quality of life maybe? Love and feelings? One hour work week?

  2. Terry Gladek-Hingston says:

    I was Mike’s admin at Apple for several years. He never lost his childlike curiosity and delight at work or with his family. His eyes would light up if someone said, “Oh, that won’t work.” Mike honestly couldn’t understand that point of view.

    His brilliance, work ethic and attention to the things that mattered – his family and mentoring young engineers and students – that will be his legacy.

    Mike, Brian Howard and Steve Jobs are most likely together somewhere causing trouble and mischief. I sure hope so.


  3. Imagination is a subset of reality, therefore you can’t “win” with reality using imagination. Sure its nice to do something impressive in life, but keep in mind the healthy chain of emotional investment starts with your own self first, then you spread the surplus investments to the loved ones, and then to everyone else. That “something impressive” is a cherry on that cake, “you get to eat after you eat your veggies young man”. Once that chain is broken you end up self sacrificing for some 3rd party idea, or in laymans terms, on a wild goose chase.

    Based on my few years at pediatric cancer hospice helping my volunteering ex, I can honestly tell that cut and prescribe medicine knows nuttin about healing cancer. They might mitigate symptoms by cutting/nuking/chemoing affected areas out.

    Cancer, as any other disease, is a sign of immune system that is for some reason sub-par by self-inflicted physical and emotional over-taxing. More or less, a direct result of a wild goose chase, instead of having healthy chain of self-love mentioned above and letting go of what is damaging both physically and emotionally. Keep in mind, human body defeats cancer on daily basis – we have something like 20 cancer cells per month or per year, that our body naturally handles. Once you give your immune system half of chance of restoring and healing, it will do “wonders” for you. Having fun and hugs instead of chasing self-inflicted obligations also helps a lot 🙂

    Ask on any vegan forum, when did anyone had a flu, or just a cold. You will get responses like “i forgot what it is” or “6 years ago before i went vegan” or “last week, but i did really stupid things by spreading myself too thin” 🙂

  4. “We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.”

    RIP Mike

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