Dick Hustvedt, the consummate software engineer

I've written a couple of "farewell" posts before, but this one is personal. I learned today that Dick Hustvedt died last week, and my heart is heavy. As I knew him, Dick was one of the principal architects and developers of the VAX/VMS operating system and a major force behind the development of the VAXcluster.

I greatly admired Dick for his brilliance, his keen sense of what it meant to design things right, and for his wicked sense of humor. Dick was famous for his elaborate pranks, including the SD730 Fixed Head Solar Horologue, a sundial with a photocell that detected noon, connected by a parallel port to the VAX-11/730 which lacked a time-of-day clock. This also inspired Dick's choice of microfortnights as the unit for the VMS SYSGEN parameter TIMEPROMPTWAIT.

As a young software engineer at DEC in the late 70s and early 80s, I looked up to Dick as a shining example of what I aspired to be. Dick believed in architecture, designing and thinking things through before building, and he was great at getting cooperation and extra effort out of the VMS team. I like to think that a little of him rubbed off on me.

Tragically, Dick suffered severe brain injury in 1984 when his car was struck in an auto accident. I visited him a couple of times afterward, at the home he shared with his wife (and DEC engineer) Audrey Reith. His son Marc wrote a memorial post which provides some more information about Dick and his life.

Rest in peace, Dick. And farewell. I'm privileged to have known you.
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anonymous's picture

I worked closely with Dick while at SDS/XDS, and realized quickly that his was an intellect that few could come close to. There were some great architects at XDS in the early 1970's, but Dick could KISS and get a project rolling with the best of them.

Audrey and I were office partners when the Xerox layoffs took place, and of course she and Dick departed soon there after for DEC-land, and I lost touch with both of them.

It was sad indeed to read that Dick had suffered such an accident, and sadder yet to read of his death.

RIP Dick, you will live on in my mind as one of the best software architects I've ever worked with.

anonymous's picture

Not many can say they are proud of a hometown hero when you come from a town as small as Radcliff Ky, but Dick was about as close as a hero as you will ever find.......RIP my friend

anonymous's picture

I worked in the VMS customer service group and the development group from 1980 through 1986. Dick was, indeed, a software architect and engineer par excellence. His passion for the science of software spread throughout the VMS group and caused us all to reach for heights that would not have been reached without him. He was a primary reason why VMS is such a great operating system.

Rest in peace, Dick. You live on in our memories.

~~ Paul

anonymous's picture

I had the honor of working with Dick at both SDS/Xerox, and at DEC. Thank you, Dick, for what you taught me.

anonymous's picture

I often wonder what the state of computing would be like if Dick had been able to make his full contribution to science of Computing.

I too mourn his passing and wish that other would follow the high standards of software discipline that Dick required of all co-workers or even acquaintences.

Dave Schmidt
An Old Fartraner!

anonymous's picture

Dick Hustvedt was a class act............a man of dignity and respect.........he will be missed

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