SGML: Memory of Yuri Rubinsky (1952-1996)

SGML: Memory of Yuri Rubinsky (1952-1996)

Path: msunews!!dsinc!!!!!!news
From: "W. Eliot Kimber" <>
Newsgroups: comp.text.sgml
Subject: Re: Yuri Rubinsky (1952-1996)
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 1996 17:58:31 -0600
Organization: Passage Systems Inc.
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Yuri Rubinski passed way very suddenly on Jan 21. His loss comes as a  
tremendous shock to me and, I'm sure, to everyone who knew him. SGML had  
no greater friend than Yuri, whose tireless efforts on behalf of the  
Standard and his own company, SoftQuad, had profound and long-lasting  

Anyone who has read The SGML Handbook knows of Yuri. Anyone who has  
attended any of the annual SGML conferences knows who Yuri is. Yuri gave  
as much as any one human being could and in so doing helped make the  
SGML world a more interesting and rewarding place to live and work.

As a person, Yuri possessed an almost mystical ability to charm and  
inspire even the most uninterested.  I know there are people doing  
excellent SGML work today because of Yuri. Yuri was also a statesman,  
helping to bridge ideological gulfs, most recently between the SGML and  
Web communities.

For myself, the prospect of getting to see Yuri again was a compelling  
reason for attending the SGML conferences. Like the favorite uncle who  
always has an unexpected gift and a subversive wink when your mother's  
not looking, Yuri always had a surprise of some sort and a scheme or two  
in the works. Yuri was always receptive to wild ideas and, more often  
than I would have ever hoped, acted on them.

Yuri was always accessible, always willing to listen. One evening at  
SGML '93, Steve Heibert, Dave Hollander, Terry Allen, and myself were at  
dinner, bemoaning the lack of free and affordable SGML software,  
specifically editors. While we were grousing, Yuri, who happened to be  
eating in the same restaurant, walked by on his way out. We  
presumptuously grabbed him, sat him down, and proceeded to make our  
case. Yuri took our ideas (refined so as to be even remotely practical)  
to his board of directors the next day. From that conversation came  
HoTMetaL and Panorama, the first free SGML editor and browser provided  
by a commercial concern. Yuri took a great risk and, fortunately for  
SoftQuad, did so successfully. I found it wonderful that he entertained  
the idea at all. That he made it real was miraculous.

Yuri was a wonderfully interesting person. He was an architect by  
training; a scholar who wrote and published books on a variety of  
topics. He was a caring man who thought deeply about the implications  
and potentials of what he and the SGML community were doing. He could  
have retired to his country home to enjoy the well and hard-earned  
fruits of his labors, but he didn't. He continued to work for all of us  
even in the face of great physical pain. [Yuri had been plagued by gall  
stones for a number of years. At the HyTime conference last summer, Yuri  
colleagues arrived, was suddenly struck by severe pain, and literally  
turned around and took a taxi to the hospital, yet he was back the next  
day, working his magic at the conference.]

SGML and the world have lost a great friend and champion. Yuri's passing  
leaves a hole that I doubt can ever be filled. I hope that we can honor  
his memory by trying to bring to our work just a little bit of the joy  
and vision and dedication that Yuri brought to everything he did.

I want to offer my deepest condolences to Yuri's family, his colleagues  
at SoftQuad, and those of us fortunate enough to have known him. He will  
be missed.

<Address HyTime=bibloc>
W. Eliot Kimber ( Systems Analyst and HyTime  
Passage Systems, Inc., 2608 Pinewood Terr., Austin TX 78757  
10596 N. Tantau Ave, Cupertino CA, 95014, (408) 366-0300