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Daniel M. Lawrence, 1958 - 2010

Dan Lawrence died Monday. Most of the people on my friends list won't have heard of him; he was one of those people who were widely known in small circles.

As a computer programmer he was the one who could squeeze a lot of function out of very small machines (in the then-called microcomputer days he began with the Commodore PET), and during the times that I was a co-worker of his I was always impressed with how he could overcome the technical limitations of his computers or his C compilers.

That's the private work. As far as the public work goes, there is a slight chance you have heard of MicroEMACS, Telengard (in various forms), or maybe even RSTS NOTES (if you were at Purdue during a certain time period). Telengard started out life as "DND", yes, a computer dungeon-crawler, but it was one of the first, and definitely the most-copied (many times without credit being given; Compuserve's version being a notable example). My very first job was on a VMS machine in Cincinnati, and guess what? there was DND. The PC version was marketed by Avalon Hill, and Dan had a page (with downloads) to it here.

Dan was also a rabid fan of Dungeons and Dragons, and had a very large following (his game eventually split three times just to accommodate the people who flocked to it). Like many gamers, he decided that he could do a better job of it, and with Bob Blake started Adventure Quest. It didn't become the best-seller that they hoped for; many of the improvements to game-play that they made showed up in later versions of the game-with-an-ampersand that had, after all, started out with a much larger following.

I'm not the best person to write an obituary. I knew Dan at Purdue (we lived on opposite wings of the same dorm) and was a co-worker of his twice. It was through him that I learned some of the tricks of the trade -- the single-platform assumptions that one has to get past to create code that works everywhere. He leaves behind a large circle whom he influenced and helped.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jun. 9th, 2010 03:50 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry you lost a friend. That was a very nice eulogy. I hope I get one so good.
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