Internet Hall of Famer and Computer Scientist Danny Cohen Dead at 81

Danny Cohen

The man behind the first ever flight simulator and who paved the way for cloud computing has died at the age of 81 due to Parkinson’s disease. 

Israeli-American computer scientist and computer networking specialist, Danny Cohen, has passed away at his home in Palo Alto, California at the age of 81.

Cohen is considered to be a digital pioneer whose work in the 1960s and 70s paved the way for internet voice calls, cloud computing and online dating. He is also responsible for devising the first computer-based flight simulator, which revolutionised and forever changed how airlines train their pilots.

Cohen achieved his bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics in 1963 from the Israel Institute of Technology. It was while he was working on his masters that he became interested in computer science. After being invited by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to continue his work in 1965, he emigrated to the US.

Inspired by his own desire to learn to pilot an aircraft, he began his work on the visual flight simulator at MIT at a time when computer technology was still in its infancy and reliant on punch cards rather than graphics processing and display tech.

As well as developing the flight simulator, he was also responsible for creating the compsci notion of endianness and developed the forerunner technology for modern-day cloud computing.

He received a doctorate from Harvard in 1969 and joined the faculty before eventually moving to  Sun Microsystems Laboratories in 2001, he later retired in 2012.

David Cohen said of his father: “He used humor to put people at ease, to skewer ideas he thought were wrong and, as a network engineer, to confirm transmission accuracy.

“He said he always began his talks with a joke to check whether people could understand his vowel-agnostic mix of Israeli accent and mild speech impediment. If they didn’t laugh, he knew they either couldn’t understand him or it wasn’t a good joke.”



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