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July 26th, 2010:

Loren Heiny 1961-2010

LorenHeiny.jpgLora Heiny sent me a note this morning to tell me that her brother Loren had died during the night, after a four-year struggle with cancer. He was 49. Loren was an early expert on Tablet PC technology, and most of what I learned about it after I got my X41 in 2005 came from his blog.

We went back a lot farther than the Tablet PC, though. Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Loren was a charter member of a small group of literate programmer nerds who hung out together at Keith Weiskamp’s townhouse as the Coriolis Group coalesced out of primordial chaos in the North Scottsdale desert. Keith, Loren, Bryan Flamig, Ron Pronk, and Rob and Lenity Mauhar were packaging books for John Wiley at the same time that Keith became my lead author for Turbo Prolog at Turbo Technix. After Borland let me go, Keith and I decided to create a more formal corporation for the book operation and PC Techniques. I handled editorial for our new magazine, while Keith and the others continued to package books for Wiley and later other publishers as well. Loren did a fair bit of technical editing and wrote several books on his own and with others in the group, including Power Graphics Using Turbo Pascal 6, Advanced Graphics Programming Using C/C++, Object-Oriented Programming With Turbo Pascal, Object-Oriented Programming with Turbo C++, and Windows Graphics Programming with Borland C++.

Keith Weiskamp (L) and Loren Heiny at the Gray Road offices of The Coriolis Group, February 1990

Although never a formal employee, Loren was always there when we needed him, and in the spring of 1990 he helped us clean out and paint a hot, ratty, cricket-infested office on Gray Road for the fledgling Coriolis Group. His sister Lora also helped out in those heady early days, sorting mail, doing data entry, and other odd tasks as needed.

Loren combined a passion for technology with a nature as sweet as it was imperturbable, and although I hadn’t seen him in person for quite a few years, I checked into his blog regularly to see what was going on. Damn, I’ll miss him. The world will never know what it didn’t get by losing him so young, and that’s the only comfort we can take in his passing.

(An agonized sidenote: Loren is my fourth friend to die in the last sixteen months, all but one of them younger than 60. Um, could we stop this now? Please?)