Jim Butterfield

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Postby saundby » Thu Aug 16, 2007 3:59 pm

I'm coming in late here, but I thought it worth chiming in as well. Jim's loss is a great one for computing in general. His friendliness, exuberance for computing and having fun with computing, and his approachability all made him one of the "guiding spirits" of the field.

I have been lucky enough to spend time in his company, both as a result of our common love of computing and due to the fact that we had many friends and acquaintances in common who managed to overcome my antisocial tendencies by getting me together with others, including him. (I'm one of those fellows who goes to computing conferences so that I can spend the entire event in my hotel room writing code.)

I first met Jim in 1976 at a club meeting in the San Francisco Bay Area. I'd read some of his Kim articles so I had some idea of who he was. I learned right away that he was an epicenter for freewheeling discussions that get people excited about doing things. He himself was a paragon in this respect. You could hardly mention something without him starting to figure out how it could be coded, and in those days, coded and fit into 2K of memory. He also immediately approached any idea from a philosophical viewpoint at the same time as he was considering procedural approaches. His sentences would often be interleaved between the two points of view. In fact, many's the time I've seen Jim holding three different conversations at once, with different members from the group around him taking part in each of the individual conversations.

I mentioned Jim's approachability, and the number of people who have met him and remember him fondly are a testimony to this. When he was at a show, he never behaved like one of the "names." He was in with the rest of us, and twice as enthusiastic. Many people met him and spoke with him while having no idea who he was. But then again, there were always a large contingent of those who knew who he was and enjoyed being with him. He was always so friendly and encouraging. If I had a nickel for every time I've heard him talk to someone at a show about something, then go on to encourage them to write an article for Compute!, AmigaWorld, or any of the other magazines he's been associated with I'd not have to worry about retirement. He was one of the bridges in the community between the users and the producers, constantly working to show the users that they can be producers just like him.

Jim was also an instant party. I remember at one Amiga show where I and a friend invited him to have lunch with us at Olive Garden. He was slow to accept, because he was with a couple of other people and he didn't want to leave them behind or commit us to covering them, too. When he explained, we gladly extended the invitation to them as well. So we sat down near Jim and started talking to him while waiting for the two ladies to return. By the time they had arrived, we had four other people wrapped in conversation with us, a developer, an author, and two attendees. The conversation continued, with the other four deciding to follow us to Olive Garden for lunch on their own ticket. As we went toward the doors of the hotel, about a half dozen other people were swept up in Jim's wake. Saying hello, or he'd ask them how an article was coming along, or whatever. By the time we got to Olive Garden we'd swept up the owners of a hardware company, several more developers, and some folks from an Amiga-friendly internet portal service (this was in the days when you'd dial up a shell account to get to the internet from home.) We made quite a large and festive crowd of about thirty by the time we got to the restaurant.

The restaurant saw us coming, and figured we were all together so they had a bunch of tables pushed together by the time we'd gotten up to the hostess. When we got seated, Jim sat near the middle of one side, and, true to form, was participating in about four conversations at once on both ends of the table. The whole affair was so convivial it's still one of the happiest times I remember from all the shows I've been to, and Jim was the glue for it.

What really put icing on the cake was the announcement by the hardware company owners that the whole shebang was on them, just before the waitress returned for dessert orders. The company owners set the tone by ordering rich desserts and coffees for themselves. By the end of the meal, three new articles, a major software product upgrade, and a new how-to book were in the works that had not even been thought of prior to the gathering. In each case, Jim had guided person A to speak to person B, or had planted a seed or given encouragement. His mastery and direction of the conversations at that table were a marvel to me, even though I had seen him in action many times over the years.

Jim's type of person, that does so much while motivating others to do likewise, does not lie so thick on the ground that we can lightly lose one of their number from among us. The world is a poorer place for his loss.

Rest in peace, Jim.

For myself, I think I'll see if I can finish and sell an article. I think Jim would have wanted that.


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Re: Jim Butterfield

Postby Humbaba » Thu Jun 29, 2017 2:04 pm

RIP. I can't believe he's been gone for 10 years now.

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Re: Jim Butterfield

Postby eslapion » Thu Jun 29, 2017 3:32 pm

You did well to revive this old thread.

I had the chance of briefly meeting Jim Butterfield only once in December 2006. When I went back to Toronto in December 2007, I remember giving a couple of 6526 CIAs to keep his Commodore 128 functional.
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