Charles Thacker

Charles “Chuck” Thacker (B.A.’67 Physics), a pioneer in the development of the personal computer and computer networking, died in June at age 74. In 1968, he joined the Department of Electrical Engineering’s Project Genie team, which built an early computer time-sharing system; he and others eventually left to form the Berkeley Computer Corporation, where Thacker led the design of a new computer processor and memory system. He later was project leader of the team at Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) that built the Alto, the first modern personal computer. Alto had a revolutionary graphical user interface, which was used by Apple and Microsoft in making the Macintosh and Windows operating systems. He was also co-inventor of the Ethernet local-area network, and was a key contributor to the first laser printer. In 1983, he helped start Digital Equipment Corporation Systems Research Center, where he led the hardware development of Firefly, the first multiprocessor workstation. He then joined Microsoft’s Tablet PC group in the late 1990s, where he oversaw the design of the first prototypes. In 2009, Thacker received the Turing Award, considered to be the “Nobel Prize in Computing,” for his many contributions to modern computing. (Photo used with permission from Microsoft)

Robert Warren Bixler (B.S.’48 EE) died in December at the age of 96. He served as a weather officer in World War II and started his career at the Pacific Telephone Company. He was one of the first engineers to develop microwave transmission stations in Nevada. After retiring in 1980, he became a financial planner and investment adviser.

Gary Dean Hornbuckle (B.S.’61, M.S.’62, Ph.D. ’67 EECS) died in March at age 77. He worked on the research staff at MIT before launching several companies, including Applicon, IMPRES and Hornbuckle Engineering. By the time he retired in 2000, he had served as president of five technology companies in Texas and California.

Dennis Jang (M.Eng.’82 CE) died in June at age 62. He was a senior vice president and structural engineer at T.Y. Lin International, which he joined
in 1987. He served in key leadership roles for projects including the Panama Canal Fourth Crossing, San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge East Span, Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and Taiwan’s high-speed rail project.

Lyle Morris Jenkins (M.S.’57 CE) died in September at the age of 84. He served as an officer in the U.S. Navy before a 40-year career at NASA.

James H. Kleinfelder (B.S.’56, M.S.’64 CE) died at age 82. He founded his own geotechnical and materials testing company, J.H. Kleinfelder and Associates, which grew to have more than 600 employees and annual revenues of $37 million. He also taught engineering at the University of
the Pacific. A member of the American Council of Engineering Companies and the American Society of Civil Engineers, he served as president of the Hazardous Waste Action Coalition and the Associated Soils and Foundation Engineers.

Stephen “Quon Chew” Lee (B.S.’51 CE) died in March. A member of two civil engineering honor societies, he worked for CalTrans for 39 years, serving as project engineer on the Caldecott Tunnel Third Bore, among many other projects.

John Everett Noble (M.S.’79 MSE) died in September. After Berkeley, he earned additional master’s degrees from the University of Tulsa and the University of Houston-Clear Lake. He worked for the U.S. Forest Service, Philips Petroleum and Advantek, and later became a high school chemistry teacher.

William R. Prindle (B.S.’48, M.S.’50 Physical Metallurgy) died in December at the age of 90. He served in the U.S. Navy in World War II before attending Berkeley, and then earned his Sc.D. in ceramic engineering from MIT. He began his career with the Continental Can Company and retired in 1992 from Corning International as division vice president. He was once president of the International Commission on Glass and had been named a distinguished life member and fellow of the American Ceramic Society and Glass Man of the Year, among other accolades.

Llewellyn K. Rabenberg (M.S.’80, Ph.D.’83 ME) died in November at the age of 60. He began his 30-year academic career at the University of Texas, where he specialized in electron microscopy.

Topics: Alumni

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