Jim Warren (computer specialist)

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Jim Warren
Warren in Hansville WA 2010
BornJuly 20, 1936
DiedNovember 24, 2021(2021-11-24) (aged 85)
  • Computer professional
  • Educator (mathematics and computing)
  • Entrepreneur
  • Editor and publisher
  • Activist

Jim Warren (July 20, 1936 – November 24, 2021)[1] was an American mathematics and computing educator, computer professional, entrepreneur, editor, publisher and continuing sometime activist.[2]

Early career[edit]

From 1957 to 1967, Warren was a mathematics teacher at secondary-school level, and professor at college and university levels, with his last full-time academic position being Chair of the Mathematics Department at the College of Notre Dame, Belmont, a small liberal arts college in Belmont, California. He later taught computer courses at Stanford University, San Jose State University and San Francisco State University.

He had his first full-time teaching contract, for an annual salary of US$2,987, when he was 20 years old and had completed only three years of college. In the ensuing decade, he was also a National Science Foundation Guest Lecturer, was the founder and Director of Summer Mathematics Institutes at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas, and earned national recognition for innovative weekly enrichment programs he created for secondary school students, and for in-service programs for elementary and secondary school teachers, all without cost, as Chair of the Alamo District [South Texas] Council of Teachers of Mathematics (1960–1962).

In the late 1960s, Warren was involved in the radical, utopian, alternative, hippie Midpeninsula Free University, including serving pro-bono as its elected General Secretary for three terms. In that time, he created and edited its irregular magazine, which he titled The Free You.[3]


From 1968 through the mid-1970s Warren worked as a freelance minicomputer programmer and computer consultant, operating under the name, Frelan Associates (for "free land"), creating assembler-level real-time data-acquisition and process-control programs for biomedical research at Stanford Medical Center, and control programs for various high-tech companies around Silicon Valley. In those years, he also chaired the Association for Computing Machinery's regional chapters of SIGPLAN, SIGMICRO and the San Francisco Peninsula ACM.

In 1977, Warren co-founded the West Coast Computer Faire which, for a half-dozen years, was the largest public microcomputer convention in the world. He was its self-titled "Faire Chaircreature," organizing eight conventions.[4][5][6] In 1983, he sold the Faire to Prentice-Hall, "for 100% down; nothin' to pay".[7]

To promote the Computer Faires and circulate news and gossip about the then-infant microcomputer industry, he founded and edited the first free tabloid newspaper about microcomputing, the irregular Silicon Gulch Gazette (SGG), published from issue #0 in February 1977, through issue #43, in January 1986, with one issue named Business Systems Journal.[8]

Beginning in 1978, Warren created and published the Intelligent Machines Journal (IMJ, which is also Pig Latin for "Jim"), the first subscription news periodical about microcomputing, published as a tabloid newspaper, with Tom Williams as its founding editor. Warren sold IMJ in late 1979, to Patrick McGovern, the founder of the International Data Group and numerous computer periodicals worldwide, notably including Computerworld. McGovern quickly renamed IMJ to be InfoWorld, as his first microcomputer periodical, later converting it to various glossy magazine formats.[9]

He hosted PBS television's Computer Chronicles series for their first two seasons (originated at the College of San Mateo's KCSM-TV, Channel 60, 1981–1982).[10]

Warren also founded and published the short-lived DataCast magazine, edited by Tony Bove and Cheryl Rhodes, focused on in-depth tutorials about specific microcomputer programs, and was the founder and producer of the equally ill-fated Video Initiative, providing similar self-paced videotape tutorials.

Warren was the founding Editor of Dr. Dobb's Journal of Computer Calisthenics & Orthodontia,[11] the first computer magazine to focus on microcomputer software, created and published by the nonprofit People's Computer Company.[12][13]

From 1990 to 1995, he was a member of the Board of Directors of Autodesk, Inc., one of the best-known publishers of computer-aided design (CAD) programs for microcomputers, with AutoCAD as its flagship product. At the time, it was one of the largest microcomputer software publishers, with a market capitalization sometimes near a billion dollars. His tenure there including presenting Autodesk's position opposing software patents,[14][15] and chairing the Board's CEO Search Committee that found and selected Carol Bartz as its CEO.


Warren founded and chaired the first Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference, held in 1991, which drew more than a hundred articles of press coverage, internationally. The CFP conferences have continued, under other leadership, for more than 25 years, consistently drawing national and international attention and attendance.[16][17][18][19][20]

In 1993, he assisted Debra Bowen pro-bono, then a freshman member of the California State Assembly, in drafting Assembly Bill 1624 (AB 1624) and organized much of the statewide support that helped it pass four committee votes and three floor votes without a single dissenting vote. When AB 1624 took effect on January 1, 1994, it made California the first state in the nation to open all of its computerized public legislative records, statutes, constitution and regulations, to fee-free access via the Internet.[21]

Thereafter, numerous other states modeled their own legislation after AB1624, as evidenced by their use of the same eccentric phrasing that Warren drafted in AB 1624 to describe the Internet, which was relatively unknown at the time: "the largest nonproprietary, nonprofit cooperative public computer network". This was necessary to silence naive politicians objecting that it would be "giving away" public records to the Internet "company".

In 1995–1996, Warren served on the Advisory Panel on Electronic Filings of the California Secretary of State. This panel advised the Secretary on how-best to implement new mandates for computerizing political-campaign financial statements, and making them timely-available to the public in electronic form without excessive fees.[22]

In 1996–1997, he served on the California Senate's Task Force on Electronic Access to Public Records, that produced recommendations regarding how to make computerized state and local public government records available to the public in electronic form. Warren was one of the minority who advocated online access without agency fees, and charging no more than the direct incremental cost of copying, when copies were requested in physical form. The majority of Task Force members were from city and county agencies, almost entirely advocating making the records available in electronic form, but only for fees far in excess of direct copying costs.[23]

Political career[edit]

In 1985, Warren was elected countywide, in a county of 700,000 population, to the board of trustees of the three-college San Mateo County Community College District, for 1986–1989.

In 1986, knowing he had no chance of winning, Warren nonetheless ran unsuccessfully for San Mateo County Supervisor against then-President of the County Board of Supervisors, Anna Eshoo, as a protest of her representation of the county's rural minority that composed much of her supervisorial district.

Other works[edit]

Aside from the several periodicals and conference proceedings mentioned above, Warren also created, published and edited the Peninsula Citizens' Advocate tabloid newspaper, addressing local rural political issues (very irregularly, 1984–1986).

Warren was the Futures columnist for Microtimes, writing a monthly "Realizable Fantasies" column (1990–2001); the Government Access columnist for Boardwatch magazine (1994–1996), and the Public Access columnist for Government Technology magazine (1993–1996, 2000). Warren also wrote the nontechnical "Coastside Curmudgeon" column for the Half Moon Bay Review, Half Moon Bay, CA (1994–1996).

He also wrote the first invited, refereed survey of early personal computer developments in Computer magazine,[24][25] a 15-year retrospective called "We, The People, In The Information Age" in Dr. Dobb's Journal, January 1991, etc.


Warren held an MS in Computer Engineering from Stanford (1977), an MS in Medical Information Science from the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center (1974), an MA in Mathematics & Statistics from the University of Texas at Austin (1964), and a BA in Mathematics & IA (1959) from what was then Southwest Texas State Teachers College in San Marcos, Texas. He completed all but his dissertation ("ABD") for a Ph.D. in EE-Computer Engineering from Stanford (advanced to candidacy, 1975).



  1. ^ Lohr, Steve (November 30, 2021). "Jim Warren, Early Influencer in Personal Computing, Dies at 85". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 1, 2021.
  2. ^ Jim Warren
  3. ^ Wolpman, Jim. "Alive in the 60s: The Midpeninsula Free University". Retrieved May 2, 2023.
  4. ^ Ahl, David H.; Green, Burchenal, eds. (April 2, 1980). "The First West Coast Computer Faire (Microcomputer trade show at San Francisco, April 16–17, 1977)". The Best of Creative Computing, Volume 3. Morristown, New Jersey: Creative Computing Press. ASIN B007RQORGS.
  5. ^ "West Coast Computer Faire Brochures, Forms and Proceedings (from 1977–1978)". Digibarn Computer Museum. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  6. ^ Maginnis, Mike (April 17, 2012). "1977 West Coast Computer Faire Program". Archived from the original on April 28, 2012.
  7. ^ Levy, Steven (May 30, 2010). Hackers – Heroes of the Computer Revolution (Paperback) (25th Anniversary ed.). O'Reilly Media. ISBN 978-1449388393. Retrieved May 2, 2023.
  8. ^ Silicon Gulch Gazette | 102686281. Computer History Museum.
  9. ^ Freiberger, Paul; Swaine, Michael (November 29, 2000). Fire in the Valley (Paperback) (2nd ed.). McGraw-Hill Companies. ISBN 978-0071358927.
  10. ^ Dvorak, John C. (April 7, 1997). "Man of the Year: Alan Meckler, CEO, Mecklermedia". Winners for the 1995 Dvorak PC Telecommunications Excellence Awards. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  11. ^ Rebecca Fairley Raney (February 24, 2000). "A Utopian With a Twinkle and an Idea: Online Democracy". The New York Times.
  12. ^ "The History and Philosophy of DDJ". Dr. Dobb's Journal. UBM Tech.
  13. ^ "Jim Warren, Dr. Dobbs Journal, Silicon Gulch Gazette". InfoWorld. March 7, 1983. p. 4.
  14. ^ Warren, Jim (May 10, 2014). "Autodesk Statement on Software Patents: Transcript of proceedings from public hearings by the Patent and Trademark Office, Department of Commerce, Docket #931222-3322: Use of the Patent System to Protect Software Related Inventions, January 26–27, 1994 at the San Jose Convention Center and February 10–11, 1994, at the Crystal Forum in Arlington, Virginia".
  15. ^ "JIM WARREN, AUTODESK, INC". San Jose hearings record. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (US PTO). January 27, 1994.
  16. ^ Warren, Jim C; Thorwaldson, Jay; Koball, Bruce (1991). Computers, freedom & privacy: a comprehensive, edited transcript of the First Conference on Computers, Freedom & Privacy, 1991. Los Alamitos, California: IEEE Computer Society Press. OCLC 25141616.
  17. ^ "CFP'91 Index of Papers and Transcripts". Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility. 1991.
  18. ^ Warren, Jim (June 17, 1991). "CFP'91 Introduction". Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility.
  19. ^ Tribe, Laurence H. (1991). The Constitution in Cyberspace: Law and Liberty Beyond the Electronic Frontier (CFP'91 Keynote Address) (Speech). First Conference on Computers, Freedom & Privacy.
  20. ^ Cranor, Lorrie Faith (2000). "Ten years of computers, freedom and privacy". Proceedings of the tenth conference on Computers, freedom and privacy: Challenging the assumptions. New York, NY, USA: ACM (Association for Computing Machinery). pp. 11–15. doi:10.1145/332186.332193. ISBN 1-58113-256-5. S2CID 45046018.
  21. ^ "A.B. No. 1624: Access by computer network – An act to add Section 10248 to the Government Code, relating to the Legislature". California Assembly (1993–94). March 4, 1993. Retrieved May 2, 2023.
  22. ^ Jones, Bill (June 1, 2001), Letter to California State Legislature from the Secretary of State, State of California (PDF), archived from the original (PDF) on November 11, 2010, This report is submitted pursuant to the provisions of Section 84602 (j) of the Government Code, related to the Online Disclosure Act of 1997. These provisions require the Secretary of State to report to the Legislature on the implementation and development of the Act, which mandates a system for the electronic transfer of campaign finance and lobbying payment information for disclosure on the Secretary of State's Internet web site. The Online Disclosure Act (Chapter 866, Statutes of 1997, as amended by Chapter 433, Statutes of 1999) directed the Secretary of State to develop a system allowing the use of computers and computer software to collect and transmit data for Internet display that previously was only available in paper format in a handful of locations. I am pleased to report that my office has complied with the Legislature's mandate, and that today millions of Californians now have direct computer access to detailed campaign contribution and expenditure information, and to the sources and amounts of money involved in lobbying state government.
  23. ^ "Bill No. 143, Senator Quentin Kopp: Public records". California Senate (1997–98). July 21, 1998.
  24. ^ Warren, J. (March 1977). "Personal and Hobby Computing: An Overview". Computer. 10 (3). IEEE: 10–22. doi:10.1109/C-M.1977.217667. ISSN 0018-9162. S2CID 8026770.
  25. ^ "Personal Computing". Wiley Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Engineering (2nd ed.). 1983.

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