John Walker, a groundbreaking, if reclusive, know-how entrepreneur and polymath who was a founder and chief government of Autodesk, the corporate that introduced the ever present AutoCAD software program program to the design and structure lots, died on Feb. 2 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. He was 74.

His loss of life, in a hospital, was brought on by problems of head accidents he suffered in a fall at residence, his spouse, Roxie Walker, stated. His loss of life was not broadly reported on the time.

Mr. Walker was well-known in tech circles, not only for his triumphs in enterprise but additionally for his outsize abilities as a programmer — he was credited with creating an early prototype of the pc virus — and as a voluble author who stuffed his private web site, Fourmilab, with free-ranging musings on subjects as numerous as cryptography, nanotechnology and consciousness research.

Though he had little style for publicity, he grew to become a distinguished tech mogul of the Nineteen Eighties and early ’90s as a founding father of Autodesk Inc., as soon as described as “a theocracy of hackers,” which grew to develop into the sixth-largest private laptop software program firm on the earth.

In 1982, he pulled collectively 15 different programming mavericks to kind Autodesk. The corporate’s unique product was an workplace automation program by the identical title, however it was a distinct software program product the corporate launched that very same 12 months that will ship Autodesk into the tech stratosphere.

AutoCAD — the “CAD” stands for computer-aided design — was based mostly on a program referred to as Work together created by Michael Riddle, one other firm founder. With the contributions of Mr. Walker in addition to Greg Lutz, who was additionally a founder, and the remainder of the staff, AutoCAD would go on to revolutionize industries together with structure, graphic design and engineering by permitting design professionals to ditch their pencils and paper and render their creations on a display utilizing an affordable private laptop.

“To him goes the credit score for the Second Design Revolution,” the California software program government Roopinder Tara wrote in a tribute to Mr. Walker on the location Engineering.com. The “First Design Revolution,” as Mr. Tara referred to as it, was the creation of earlier CAD applications that ran on costly mainframes or minicomputers. However, he wrote, it was with AutoCAD, which “burst onto the scene in 1982, after the appearance of the IBM PC, that the pc truly began to ship on the promise.”

Regardless of the technological advances of AutoCAD, Mr. Walker was unsure at first concerning the product’s industrial potential due to its seemingly restricted pool of customers. “I imply, simply examine the variety of architects with the variety of folks that write paperwork,” he stated in a 2008 interview revealed by the location By the Interface.

“We had the identical opinion as the remainder of the trade did,” Mr. Walker stated, “that it’s a distinct segment product.”

His skepticism rapidly dissolved when the corporate launched this system on the Comdex tech commerce present in Las Vegas in 1982 to a rapturous response. “From the day this present opened till the day it closed,” Mr. Walker stated, “the sales space was completely jammed; you couldn’t get in there. There have been strains of individuals ready to see it.”

John Wallace Walker was born on Could 16, 1949, in Baltimore, the elder of two sons of William Walker, a surgeon, and Bertha (Bailey) Walker, a surgical nurse.

Declining to observe the household custom and pursue a profession in drugs, he attended Case Western Reserve College in Cleveland, the place he initially studied astronomy.

As soon as he began working within the college’s computing middle, nevertheless, his course grew to become clear. Not lengthy after graduating with a bachelor’s diploma in electrical engineering, he met his future spouse, Roxie Smail. The couple married in 1973 and shortly headed for California, the place Mr. Walker had been provided a job at a pc providers firm, and settled in Foster Metropolis, south of San Francisco.

A primary-generation hacker, Mr. Walker made waves in 1975 by making a self-replicating model of a 20 Questions-style laptop sport referred to as Animal, designed for large Univac mainframe computer systems, together with a companion program, Pervade, to unfold it.

As programmers across the nation handed round magnetic-tape copies of his sport, the one manner potential in these pre-internet days, it rapidly “unfold into successively extra protected directories in what at this time is known as a ‘classic Trojan Horse attack,’” Mr. Walker wrote in a 1996 recollection on his web site. “In 1975, after I considered it, I simply referred to as it ‘a neat thought.’”

A 12 months later, he acquired a style of entrepreneurship when he based an organization referred to as Marinchip Systems, constructed round a circuit board he designed that was based mostly on the Texas Devices TMS9900 microprocessor.

But it surely was with Autodesk that he would ascend to the higher rungs of the trade. Initially based mostly in Sausalito, Calif., within the Bay Space, it mushroomed right into a multibillion-dollar firm with hundreds of workers.

The idiosyncratic Mr. Walker put his mark on an organization that was something however company in spirit. A 1992 article in The New York Occasions described Autodesk underneath Mr. Walker as “a cabal of counterculture senior programmers” who “took their canines to work and tried to succeed in a consensus on technique via limitless memos despatched by email correspondence.” (In these days, e mail was nonetheless a novelty within the enterprise world.)

That very same 12 months, The Wall Avenue Journal scored a uncommon interview with Autodesk’s “founding genius.” The ensuing article famous his quirks, together with the truth that he didn’t enable the corporate to distribute his {photograph} in any kind. He was prickly in method through the interview, the reporter famous, and insisted that or not it’s carried out in entrance of a video digicam, debated every query and claimed a copyright on the dialog.

By that time, Mr. Walker was not operating the corporate. Having shepherded the enterprise from a plucky start-up to a Silicon Valley powerhouse, he grew weary of day-to-day administration and stepped down as chief government in 1986, a 12 months after the corporate went public. He moved to Switzerland in 1991, the place he continued to work for the corporate as a programmer with its superior analysis and improvement division, till 1994.

Along with his spouse, he’s survived by his brother, Invoice Walker.

Outdoors the company world, Mr. Walker churn out articles on all issues tech-related for Fourmilab, along with posting unique science fiction tales, recipes with names like “Hackeroni and Cheese” and a ebook referred to as “The Hacker’s Diet: How you can Lose Weight and Hair By Stress and Poor Diet.”

As for all times on the higher rungs of the tech trade, he confirmed little nostalgia.

“In 1977, this business was fun,” Mr. Walker wrote in a book-length historical past of Autodesk that he revealed on his web site. “The sellers and the patrons have been hot-shot techies like ourselves, all people spoke the identical language and knew what was happening.

“Immediately,” he added, “the microcomputer trade is run by middle-manager varieties who know way more about P/L statements than they do RAM group.”

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