July 23, 1952 - April 27, 1999
Mark and Ubiquitous Computing
Mark is generally regarded as the Father of Ubiquitous Computing. Here's
an interview with Mark and others on ABC's "Nightline" 17 November 1997.
"CD quality" MP3
Mark the jazz drummer
Mark was learning to play jazz. Here's a recording during a typical
rehearsal. Mark started playing a pattern, the rest of the band decided
it must be "The Girl From Ipanema." The band always had difficulty scheduling
weekly rehearsals and eventually became the "Not This Tuesday Night" band.
This recording features Ethan Robertson on saxophone, Robert Kennedy on
keys, and STD's Russ Haines on bass. Mike Perkins, the usual bassist, missed
Mark the rock drummer
For eight years Mark was the drummer for STD. During that time the band
produced two CDs, opened for the Rolling Stones, and drank a lot of Guinness.
He was so dedicated to the band, when he started 24-hour continuous drip
chemotherapy he had the doctors install an aortal tap directly in his chest
under general anesthesia rather than in his arm so he could continue playing
drums. That's dedication. Here's the last song Mark recorded with STD:
"CD Quality" MP3
The Official History of STD
Mark our friend
Above all, however, Mark was a good friend. Below is a collection
of words and pictures. As time goes on this section is likely to become
irreverant, so watch your step.
Subject: Weiser history
Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1999 20:22:07 -0700
From: Steven Rubin
Here's a bit of historical perspective, straight from the horse's mouth...
Date: Tue, 3 Dec 1996 11:43:57 PST
From: Mark Weiser
Subject: Re: Usenix script
Here is my memory, easily flawed, corrections welcome.
I first found out about the band by talking to Manasse at the October
SOSP conference in Monterey. I started practicing, Russ yelled at me
a lot, and two months
later, that December, I played in an STD gig for Xmas? New Years?
at Anita Borg's house in Menlo Park. Mark and I came back the next
help her sweep the floors. Then I was out for a time -- you all experimented
drummer, and then fall 1992 I was back in, and have been since.
(Dr.) Mark Weiser
Chief Technologist, Xerox PARC
email: firstname.lastname@example.org info: www.ubiq.com/weiser
"Mark having fun." photo by Steve Rubin
Subject: Mark and STD, the early years
Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1999 10:14:50 -0700
From: "Mark S. Manasse"
OK, so I'm rooting through my mail files from Mark, dating back to November
'91. Our web site
captures lots of things starting with the Stone's gig, so I'll limit
myself to things that
predate that, at least in this digest.
Our first real exchange of messages, after the proposal that he audition
for STD, was about his
work on automatic Tetris playing (and his derogation of my idea that
it ought to be done a la
rogomatic). Here's the text from his title slide:
Tetris as a model for life as a manager
. arbitrary things drop from the sky and must be handled immediately
. no known algorithm
. much folklore
. does no real work
Recall that we pressed Mark into service for a New Year's gig at Anita's
six weeks later, after
a very limited number of rehearsals with us.
The following summer, I sent Mark notice of a party at Anna's, prompting
the first of many
replies I received from Mark in this vein:
Oh, sigh, I am in japan.
But let's have a practice sometime!
I'll close off this walk through the distant past with the full message
Mark forwarded that
yielded our favorite comment on Mark
Richard Wolkomir. "The chips are coming, the chips are coming..."
Smithsonian. September 1994, pp. 82-93. (Illustrations
by John Huehnergarth).
first few sentences of paragraph beginning bottom of page 84, continuing
page 86: "PARC employs anthropologists to study the workplace, making
tank something of a high-tech oddball. So is Mark Weiser.
Besides his day job
as a Silicon Valley savant, he moonlights drumming for a rock band
Severe Tire Damage. Probably he is rock's smartest drummer.
He is ebullient
about Severe Tire Damage. He is ebullient about computers.
In fact, he is
generally ebullient. And so when PARC anthropologists told him
that a major
flaw of current computers is that they are divorced from their surroundings,
caught the idea's rhythm..." [end of drumming metaphor and mentions
The rest is just technology stuff, comparing me to a teddy bear, and
"One is fuzzier. One is Weiser." photo from the S.F. Chronicle
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 1994 15:22:16 PST
Subject: new york times report
I just spent an hour on the phone with the rock editor of the New York
I asked about the mbone, did we resent other bands claiming to be first
were first, etc. He asked what kind of music we played: I called
He is only on AOL, not the real internet, but I gave him our home page
anyway and he will try to put it into the article.
I told him we got lots of positive responses from around the net, and
He was at the Thinking Pictures facilities in New Jersey watching.
Pictures" is the company that organized the Stone on the mbone). So
I asked him
if the folks there minded our pirating. He said, no, they thought
great! He said they enjoyed us more than the Stones!
(He saw us on the mbone (both before and after), and set out trying
to find us.
He finally searched the giant online news database "Nexus" for all
containting "severe", "tire", "damage", and "computer", and found only
match: the Smithsonian article about me. Then he started calling
in the 415 and 408 area codes, and voila. He let out a shriek
when I answered the phone and said yes, I do work at Xerox PARC.).
His article will appear tuesday.
"Mark gets in some reading during a rehearsal." photo by Berry Kercheval
Mark started purposely doing silly things just
because they're fun. Russ and Mike, guitar and bass for NTTN, took Mark
skydiving. He had so much fun he went back with his daughter Corinne. Mark's
sister, who was fighting a long battle with cancer went with skydiving
with Mark, Russ, and Mike. Most of her family jumped out of an airplane
that day, too.
Subject: RE: skydiving
Date: Sat, 27 Feb 1999 20:45:04 PST
From: "Weiser, Mark "
To: Mike Perkins, Russ Haines
Well, it was a wonderful day for jumping. Corinne and I got there about
11am, the first plane had just returned. We jumped around 1:30pm. She
loved it! Almost was begging me to do it again that day! It was
#3 for me,
pretty uneventful except for leaving the plane doing a flip (Josh on
back), which was uneventful as it was more like things whooshing by,
sense of control or what the hell was happening. Pete somebody, with
preplanning, flew over and held my hands, that was cool. Shouldn't
had a helmet for that? Anyway, clear day, high light clouds, warm,
Didn't see you guys.
"Still not enough fog yet, Lance. And since when does Mark play guitar?"
photo by Peter Menzel
Subject: [Fwd: my Z3]
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999 17:03:03 -0700
To: email@example.com, and other close friends
Almost exactly one year before
he was diagnosed with cancer,
Mark got to play with a toy he
later decided was worth blowing
a lot of money on just because.
In his own words, here's Mark.
Mark Weiser wrote:
> My Z3
> Last September BMW invited me to participate in a engineering offsite
> about the car of the future. Germanically, they divided us into
> competing teams, with the winning team getting BMW cars of their
> . . . for a week. The chairman of the board was the judge.
> anything about cars, I was having a lark at the whole offsite, so
> team selected me to present for us because of my irreverent style.
> the chairman in stitches with my team's suggestions that they fire
> their mechanical engineers and replace them with software engineers
> . from France. We also suggested they close their giant R&D
> Munich, stop all new design for 3 months and send the engineers into
> field, give stock options to all their key suppliers, and a few other
> things I don't remember now. Anyway, my team won, and this
week I had
> my car.
> I selected a Z3 with the 2.8 (larger) engine. (Some people know this
> the "James Bond car"). The one they gave me is deep wine purple,
> convertible top, a little two-seater toy. And what a toy! I am not
> person-I drive a Mazda van most of the time (good for hauling drums
> around). I had not a expected that a car could just be plain fun.
> know it can.
> It is just plain fun to turn corners, to pass people, to drive on
> expressway. When it is time to lane change, with a press of the
> accelerator, I can make it appear that everyone else has come to
> halt. Everything seems safer, solider, in my control. I have
> able to get enough time in the car this week, in spite of taking
> couple of afternoons off to drive in the hills.
> So, Thursday night I headed for Nevada. After spending the night
> Days Inn in Reno, at 7am Friday morning I started across the state
> Route 50, called (by perverse pride of Nevada PR) "the loneliest
> America". It has been a dream of mind to drive this road. The desert
> seems to call to me at times. Its apparent simplicity, its starkness,
> its unhumanness. Its empty spaces suck me in like the Titanic sucked
> the ocean. There are only two towns in 350 miles, and otherwise just
> lots of desert. So why was this nice? Well...
> I've been skydiving, once. I had a 100 MPH wind in my face for 1
> until the chute opened. It was incredible. But yesterday with the
> down I had a 110 MPH wind in my face for an hour. My hair stuck straight
> out in all directions. And I could play Jimi Hendrix at top volume
> (although I couldn't hear anything, it was the principle that mattered.
> I filled in the actual sounds from memory).
> Most of the time I had the top up, however. For one thing, it is
> the desert this time of year. For another, at 120 MPH the wind was
> much! At 120 MPH, this car feels like my van at 60. I spent about
> hour total, in different stretches, at 120. On this road I can see
> miles ahead, it is only a two lane road but there is relatively little
> traffic on a weekday (which is why I did not wait until the weekend).
> It was really fun and exciting. Whenever I stopped (for gas, or the
> view, or to read a historical marker) I was breathing hard. From
> The last number on the speedometer is 140. (Interpolating it goes
> 150). I decided to try to reach 140, if only for a moment.
> manual says top speed is electronically limited to 128MPH.
> have been turned off on my car since I easily crossed that number.
> However, at 135 it began to feel a little unstable. There may
> a slight cross-wind. I decided to not go further, and settled back
> I reached Ely, near Utah, in about 3 hours, had lunch and turned
> Halfway back I stopped at the top of a small mountain to call into
> PARC meeting on my cellphone. After an hour I continued on, now into
> scattered thundershowers. I don't know if you have seen storms in
> desert, but they are incredibly beautiful. You can see the rain falling
> like gray veils from high individual clouds. Many of the veils don't
> touch the earth because the air is so dry, and when you drive under
> you just get a mist. Others do touch, and then the rain is very hard,
> for a moment, and then it is gone. I decided that 90MPH was my hard
> speed, and 105 my mist speed.
> The car told me what speeds to go. I mean it communicated to my body,
> hands, my feet, my stomach. We were a unity, the car and I. I knew
> in the mist was right, because the car felt right. I knew 120MPH
> because the car felt ok. But that puts it wrong. WE felt ok.
> car, but the unity that was it and me.
> On the way home in the dark through the Sierra's there was a gradual
> re-entering of the normal universe. First the long lines of cars
> the other way, up to their skiing weekends, kept shining their lights
> my eyes. It was hard to see my way back unless I slowed down.
> just outside Sacramento on a ten-lane expressway surrounded by
> Jack-in-the-Boxes, I got a speeding ticket for going 75mph in a 65mph
> zone. I was almost grateful; like an experienced pilot landing an
> airplane after a long flight, the ticket was the gentle bump of the
> universe snapping back in place. Within ten minutes (including the
> admiring my car, asking about the engine and so on), I was on my
> again. Minutes later a friend in tears called on the cellphone, needing
> to talk. Someone she loved was dying. I pulled off the road and talked
> with her for an hour. I felt good. I had entered another universe
> awhile, and connected.
> When I got off the phone, I looked up. Where was I? Where had I been?
> was in front of a Jack-in-the-Box. It was 9pm. The world of person-car
> communion was gone. Wherever I had been, I was now back. I had a
> sourdough jack, curly fries, and a large diet coke. Then back on
> road. The car was again just a means to an end, I the inattentive
> master, mind on other things. I cruised at 69MPH, driving with one
> the hour-and-a-half back to Palo Alto.
> 14 Mar 1998
> Mark Weiser
"And just what are you looking at that's so funny?" photo by Brad Horak
Subject: RE: NTTN: yes, er, probaby not an 'ummer
Date: Tue, 9 Mar 1999 17:11:20 PST
From: "Weiser, Mark"
To: NTTN bandmembers
I am sitting in my living room looking at a very juicy picture of something
labeled, in a Dr's
scrawl (not mine) "ulcerous mass on lower esophagus". The picture was
taken earlier today by a
camera in my stomach.
My throat hurts and so does my side, and front.
While I could bring the picture to dinner, or even bring the ulcerous
mass (I hear they are
good with a little butter, on the half shell), actually I am doubtful
for dinner and playing.
Well, I might make it for a little while, but don't wait.
[Mark Weiser passed away on Tuesday, 27 April 1999]
Subject: Re: Mark
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999 11:51:00 -0700
From: an NTTN bandmember
To: another NTTN bandmember
> Sad, but just as well it's over it seems.
> To add some inappropriate but needed levity, it's one
> of his better excuses for missing rehearsal last
I don't know about that. He didn't die until 8:31pm.
He could've made the first half of rehearsal.
More memories of Mark to come...