My brother, Noel, died over twenty years ago at the age of forty. He was a computer scientist at MIT. He was the smart one in the family -- him and my mother. I was happy to find these references to him on the net.
From the Google Newsgroup: alt.os.multics
Date: 1993-07-07 13:40:34 PST
Noel Morris - an appreciation I met Noel in the fall of 1964 when we were both hired by Prof. Ithiel de Sola Pool at MIT as part-time programmers to work on data processing for social scientists. We used CTSS on the Project MAC 7094 and ran a lot of FMS batch runs. (We shared an office with Tom Lehrer, but never met him: the office was 14N-216(?), hidden away inside the MIT library; there was a door from the second floor of the stacks to a hallway of offices, and we shared a 1050 terminal there. Lehrer had a joint MIT-Harvard appointment in statistics, but never showed up at his MIT office.) Noel's programming skills were awesome. He had intense concentration and could get his head around large complex systems. In addition, he had the energy & doggedness to grind at a problem until he solved it. For the political scientists Noel wrote a data cross-tabulation system that was far better than anything then available. We worked closely with the system programming group, and submitted some improvements to CTSS, including the mail command, FIB, and "dot," the command chaining and abbreviation program. First Noel, then I left political science and joined the CTSS group and then the Multics team. We spent the fourth of July weekend in 1965 patching the CTSS disk back together after some asshole crashed the system by running it out of disk just to see what would happen. Noel and I worked together on Multics bootstrap and initialization; he created the pre-linker and did major work on the FIM and the disk and printer DIMs. He and I made the bootload run that finally accomplished the Phase One milestone in December 1967. (We used to go to the MIT Faculty Club for dinner & then return to Project MAC and work far into the night, trying to get the system to boot.) Noel also made key contributions to the 6.36 system, the EPL runtime, and the file system. We worked together on the 1401 program that printed Multics ASCII tapes from the 7094. Noel's mother was a music teacher, and he could identify any piece of classical music after hearing a few bars. He was an avid hiker and climbed all the four-thousand-foot or higher peaks in New England. Noel left the Multics team for Prime sometime around 1977, and later joined Apollo, where he was a significant contributor. Noel died of a heart attack in October 1983 while hiking with his wife Debbie in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. He was a fine colleague, a good friend, and an important contributor to Multics. email@example.com
From: Arthur Evans (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: 1993-07-08 07:12:14 PST
Thanks to Tom for the comments on Noel Morris. He was a dear friend and I still miss him As Tom mentioned, Noel's mother was a music teacher. When my wife was small, she took music lessons from Mrs Morris. I first met Noel, accompanying my wife on a visit to Mrs Morris, while Noel was a high school student with a room full of hi-fi audio equipment. This was in the late '50s and high school students weren't yet into computers. When I joined the MIT faculty in 1965 I looked him up, and we gradually became close friends. Noel was then one of those folks who have trouble completing an undergraduate program. He needed only a few credits and never quite got around to getting them. I persuaded him to earn academic credit by being a Teaching Assistant in the subject I was teaching, and later I persuaded the Undergraduate Educational Policy Committee (or whatever it was called) to award a few more credits for Noel's by-then extensive professional experience. I was pleased to have taken a part in his receiving an MIT degree. He was surely a credit to the school. I remember the episode that Tom describes as We spent the fourth of July weekend in 1965 patching the CTSS disk back together after some asshole crashed the system by running it out of disk just to see what would happen. Noel described it as rebuilding the master file directory with a pair of tweezers and a box of ones and zeros. Noel, like his father, died at a distressingly young age. As I understand it, he had a condition that tends to be hereditary in which the veins and arteries resemble those of an 80-year-old. A tragedy. Requiescat in pace Art Evans
From: John Gintell
Date: 1993-07-08 08:05:37 PST
In article <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org (Tom Van Vleck) writes: |> Noel Morris - an appreciation Thanks, Tom for wrting this. |> Noel's mother was a music teacher, and he could identify any |> piece of classical music after hearing a few bars. Actually, the opening chord of a symphony or similar "big" work was all he needed to recognize the piece. ...And he frequently found bugs after seeing about the same amount of information in a dump. John
From: Michael Padlipsky
Date: 1993-07-08 18:26:05 PST
Being in a certain amount of physical pain from a shoulder that might turn out to have a torn rotator cuff if the HMO ever decides to spring for some contemporary 'imaging', I don't want to subject myself to the psychic pain of attempting to delineate for those readers who didn't know him just how highly esteemed NIM was on a personal basis as well as on a professional one (where I for one always believed the possibly apocryphal claim that he HAD read every line of the system source code). Suffice it to say that during my years at MAC (late '65 - mid '74, as I recall), there probably wasn't anyone better thought of professionally than Noel, and almost certainly wasn't anyone better thought of personally, since I do want very much to say something now that the topic has been raised. Well, maybe just one specific: There were very few 'dummy' IDs and passwords on the Develpopment System; they tended to be the initials of a few of the best known members of the team, and the only one I remember for sure, much less remember ever using, was his. Readers would probably also like to know that his younger brother is Errol Morris, the film documentarian whose highly regarded _The Thin Blue Line_ was dedicated to Noel and whose latest effort was on Stephen Hawking and his _A Brief History of Time_.