Tech visionary James Martin, who predicted web in 1977, dies


I would be terribly remiss if I did not acknowledge the passing of James Martin. Mr. Martin was one of the early influences on my career.

The influential technology author James Martin, who was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1977 for his internet-predicting book The Wired Society, has died at the age of 79. [1]
He made the single largest individual donation to the University of Oxford in its entire 900-year existence with the £60m donation he provided in 2005 for the foundation of the Oxford Martin School, an interdisciplinary body dedicated to exploring the emerging technologies of the future. The university confirmed reports from 24 June that Martin had passed away in Bermuda, where he had lived since the 90s.

 The university’s statement reads: “James Martin was an inspiration to millions — an extraordinary intellect, with wide-ranging interests, boundless energy and an unwavering commitment to addressing the greatest challenges facing humanity.”

“For 25 years Martin was the highest-selling author of books on computing and related technology. He wrote a record 104 books, many of which have been seminal in their field, and was renowned for his electrifying lectures about the future.”

Martin began his career with IBM in the 50s before founding his own computer consultancy and technology businesses, and was known as a prescient analyst of technological change. The Wired Society predicted many of the ramifications of an interconnected, internet-driven world, and he was extremely influential in the fields of information engineering, computer-aided software engineering and software development methodology.

He made a multi-million pound fortune from his work, though he gave much of it away to fund the work of other thinkers, scientists, philosophers and engineers. His most recent book, 2006’s The Meaning of the 21st Century: A Vital Blueprint for Ensuring Our Future, dealt with the same dilemmas that inspired the foundation of the Oxford Martin School — climate change, biodiversity loss, economic inequality and stagnation, urban development and technological revolution. It was turned into a documentary, narrated by his neighbor Michael Douglas.

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