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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