Yuri Rubinsky (1952-1996)

We are very sorry to report that Yuri Rubinsky died suddenly of a massive heart attack on Sunday evening, January 21. Yuri is best known to Seybold Report readers and Seybold Seminar attendees as a co-founder of SoftQuad International, as co-founder and chairman of the SGML Open consortium and for his work in furthering SGML and (more recently) HTML and the World Wide Web.

But anyone who knew him will remember Yuri most of all as a marvelous person -- the kind of person who brightened every room he was in and made you feel better and more noble for being with him. Yuri was bright, witty, original, insightful and, most of all, human in the very best sense. He was never concerned with technology for its own sake, but always concerned with what it could do to help people.

Yuri was an author, publisher, visionary -- a man of amazing energy and talent. His books include A History of The End of The World (1982), The Wankers' Guide to Canada (1986) and (as co-author) Christopher Columbus Answers All Charges (1993). He was editor of The SGML Handbook (1990) and The SGML Primer (1991). Most recently, Yuri was finishing two books on SGML and the Internet, as well as an historical comedy on Vergil, Mesmer and Neil Armstrong.

In addition to books, Yuri co-authored and produced the play "Invisible Cities" in 1981, authored a one-edition newspaper spoof, Not The Globe and Mail (1984), created and edited Yorker magazine (1985-86), and co-authored and produced SGML: The Movie (1990).

In Canada, he is probably best known as founding co-director of the influential Banff Publishing Workshop and for his work in applying technology to help visually impaired people.

Yuri was born in Tripoli, Lebanon on August 2, 1952. His family moved to the Toronto, Canada area when he was three. He graduated from Brock University and studied architecture at the University of Toronto. After a stint of odd jobs in the Yukon, Yuri decided to focus on publishing. He attended the Radcliffe publishing course at Harvard University in the summer of 1978 and was so impressed that he decided that Canada needed a similar course. Two years later, he convinced the Banff Centre for the Arts to sponsor the Banff Publishing Workshop.

Along with partners David Slocombe and Stan Bevington, he founded SoftQuad to develop and sell tools for SGML. Almost from the beginning, he was instrumental in bringing the SGML community together and spreading the SGML gospel. In recent years, he has also been involved in helping to shape standards for the World Wide Web.

We extend our condolences to Yuri's wife, Holley, to everyone at SoftQuad and SGML Open -- indeed, to everyone who ever knew or worked with Yuri. We will never forget him.

-- Jonathan Seybold

Elsewhere on the Web, others are paying tribute to Yuri Rubinsky:

Robin Cover's SGML Web page

SGML Open's Web page

SoftQuad's official statement