From: Michael Everson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu Jun 24 2004 - 12:15:29 CDT
Sad news from
Not long ago I had the pleasure of communicating with Bob, who took
some interest in seeing how Unicode was unfolding. His website can be
visited at http://www.bobbemer.com/
Om mani padme hum.
Bob Bemer, computer pioneer Bob Bemer, dies at 84
The Associated Press
6/23/2004, 7:58 p.m. ET
POSSUM KINGDOM LAKE, Texas (AP) - Computer pioneer Bob Bemer, who
helped invent the widely used ASCII coding system used by computers
to represent text, has died from complications related to cancer.
Bemer, 84, died Tuesday evening at his home along Possum Kingdom
Lake, said his stepson, Glen Teeler.
Bemer was born Feb. 8, 1920, in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., and later
attended Albion College.
He began his programming career in 1949, working at companies
including RAND Corporation, IBM, Univac and Honeywell.
It was his time with IBM during the 1950s and 1960s where he
contributed to the development of ASCII.
Pronounced "As-kee," the American Standard Code for Information
Interchange is an encoding system used in nearly every computer. It
allows computers to see text as a series of numbers. He contributed
10 ASCII characters, including the escape, or "ESC," key and the
As recently as a month ago, "he was on the computer every day,"
Teeler, 48, said Wednesday. "He is a man who literally worked just
about every day until he died. He felt at home sitting in front of a
He first published warnings of the so-called Y2K computer problem in
1971 and again in 1979, and made frequent appearances to discuss the
issue on CNN, the BBC, the New York Times and other media.
For his accomplishments, Bemer received the Computer Pioneer Award
from the U.S.-based Institute of Electrical and Electronics
Engineers, or IEEE, in May 2003.
Bemer and his wife, Bettie, moved to Possum Kingdom Lake in 1998,
about 120 miles west of Dallas, working as a consultant for the state
of Texas and others, Teeler said.
On his Web site, he described himself as a "Computer software
consultant, futurist and raconteur."
"He never got the coding out of his system," Teeler said. "He was a
coder until he couldn't code any more. He lived it and breathed it."
His son, Jan Bemer, said his father also had a love of the outdoors.
"He was a rock hound," Jan Bemer said. "He loved to camp. He loved to
explore out in Arizona."
In addition to his wife, he is survived by five children; two
stepchildren and many grandchildren.
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