Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Tell HN: We've Lost An Engineering Luminary - Bob Davis (IEEE)
116 points by jcr on Feb 11, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 9 comments
Hi HN,

I'm admittedly not very good at this sort of thing, so please try to be patient, kind, and considerate.

Last week, engineering lost one of its most significant giants. You may not recognize his name, but at this moment, as you read this message on an electronic device over a network, you are standing on his shoulders.

His name was Bob Davis.

Bob spent most of his life as an active contributor and organizer for the IEEE. Whether it was the sticky politics of getting many competing interests to work together or solving the many supposedly unsolvable engineering challenges, Bob was truly amazing. The technology and networks you use every day are due, in part, to Bob's efforts at the IEEE. Bob is one of the people you ought to thank for the bottom most layers of networking (OSI Layer 1 & 2). The list of Bob's achievements is extensive, but more importantly, he truly understood the need for collaboration and concensus.

Most all efforts are group efforts. If you take a step back from the myth of the lone genius, you will see all the other people providing all the required supporting contributions necessary for every supposedly solitary success. Since there is no master list of all contributions and contributors, no one can name all of the nameless people they ought to thank. In this competitive world where a few receive fame and fortune, try to remember the efforts of those few will always be trivial compared to the combined contributions of the unnamed supporting masses.

To you, Bob is probably just one of the countless unnamed engineers who made your life a little better through his efforts. To me, Bob was a friend, an inspiration, and an all-round amazing person. I'll miss him.

Appreciation makes efforts more meaningful. It's too late for you to thank Bob, but to turn a loss into a gain, I hope you'll look at something you enjoy, find one of the unnamed people responsible for creating it, and just tell them, thank you.




In this competitive world where a few receive fame and fortune, try to remember the efforts of those few will always be trivial compared to the combined contributions of the unnamed supporting masses.

Well said and thank you for sharing. I've never met your friend, but I respect his contributions and life as as fellow human. My sincere condolences to you, his friends, and family.


The same Bob Davis that was a technical director at NetApp? I am assuming so since I don't know any other IEEE Bob Davis' out there.

I knew his web site went down (scsi.com) where did you hear of his passing? Is there / was there a service?


Yes, Bob Davis was on the IEEE MSC, and was a TD at NetApp for a few years in there... I'm not aware of any others. If this is true, I'm really sad to hear this news.


Yes Chuck, it's the person you knew. Bob was the TD of NetApp and was the owner of scsi.com (Summit Computer Systems, Inc.), a domain he registered way back when the only registrar was Stanford. The funny part is later in life he actually worked on the SCSI (disk) standard. Though the website may have been taken down, email still works.

I've been lucky to grow up with Patrick Davis, Bob's son, as one of my best friends, and he told me of Bob's passing last night.

Per Bob's request there won't be a services/funeral, but this spring/summer there will be a party commemorating his life. It's what he wanted. I don't know the details yet.


I was a member of the IEEE-754 (2008) committee; Bob was our MSC liaison. I didn't know him well, but I was impressed by him. Considering that he wasn't a floating-point expert, but his enthusiasm and nearly boundless patience with the agonizingly slow standards process was truly impressive. He gave up an enormous amount of his time to standards work that most engineers assume is someone else's problem.


> I'm admittedly not very good at this sort of thing, so please try to be patient, kind, and considerate.

No one, except grieving professionals, really is.

Seriously, thank you for writing this piece the way you did, it is a good one. You are right: I never heard of him. You made sure that I read your words about the loss to the end and got to know what he did a little.


Thank you for sharing. My condolences on the loss of your friend.


^


Rest in peace




Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: