Tom West

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Tom West
West at home in Westport MA, 2009
Joseph Thomas West

(1939-11-22)November 22, 1939
DiedMay 19, 2011(2011-05-19) (aged 71)
Alma materAmherst College, B.A. 1962

Joseph Thomas West III (November 22, 1939 – May 19, 2011)[1] was an American technologist. West is notable for being the key figure in the Pulitzer Prize winning non-fiction book The Soul of a New Machine.[2]

West began his career in computer design at RCA, after seven years at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, a job he'd gotten right out of college.[3] He started working for Data General in 1974.[3] He became the head of Data General's Eclipse group and then became the lead on the Eagle project, building a machine officially named the Eclipse MV/8000.[3] After the publication of Soul of a New Machine, West was sent to Japan by Data General where he helped design DG-1, the first full-screen laptop.[3] His last project in 1996, a thin Web server, was intended to be an internet-ready machine.[4] West retired as Chief Technologist in 1998.[5]

Personal life[edit]

West was married to Elizabeth West in 1965; they divorced in 1994.[6] The couple had two daughters, Katherine West and librarian Jessamyn West.[7] West married Cindy Woodward (his former assistant at Data General) in 2001; the couple divorced in 2011. West died at the age of 71 in his Westport, Massachusetts home of an apparent heart attack.[6] His nephew, Christopher Schwarz, is a former editor of Popular Woodworking magazine, author of The Anarchist's Toolchest, and co-founder of Lost Art Press; West's death prompted Schwarz to "leave the magazine and do my own thing".[8]


  1. ^ "J. Thomas West 71, of Westport". Archived from the original on 25 May 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
  2. ^ Kidder, Tracy (1981) [1997]. The Soul of a New Machine. Modern Library. ISBN 978-0-316-49170-9.
  3. ^ a b c d Ratliff, Evan. "O, Engineers!". Wired. Retrieved 2020-11-14.
  4. ^ InfoWorld. InfoWorld Media Group, Inc. 15 July 1996. p. 8. Retrieved 2020-11-14.
  5. ^ Brown, Bob (2011-12-01). "2011's Most Notable Tech Industry Deaths". CIO. Retrieved 2020-11-14.
  6. ^ a b Marquard, Bryan (22 May 2011). "Tom West; engineer was the soul of Data General's new machine". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
  7. ^ Paul Vitello (May 27, 2011). "Tom West Dies at 71; Was the Computer Engineer Incarnate". The New York Times.
  8. ^ "An Interview with Chris Schwarz". 26 March 2012.

Further reading[edit]