Bangalore, January 25: J. R. Isaac, veteran professor at IIT Bombay and guru to a generation of Indian computer science professionals, passed away here on Tuesday at the age of 89.
He spend a quarter century with IIT Bombay from the inception of the Computer Science department in 1967 and led the team that installed the first computer -- a Minsk II mainframe from the then Soviet Union. He continued to teach there till his retirement in 1990, and then joined NIIT as Chief Scientist and Adviser, where he helped shaped the institute's courses as well as its socially relevant outreaches. Fiercely passionate about reaching the physically and mentally challenged, he steered a nationally recognized project for spastics called I-Write, replacing a computer keyboard with a pressure activated pad for physically challenged children. As a member of the board of advisers for NIIT University, he remained active till its inauguration in 2009 and then settled in Bangalore.
"His two passions were teaching and writing", recalls another veteran computer teacher, Prof V Rajaraman, "Everything he said was laced with a subtle humour". Almost single-handedly in the 1990s, Prof Isaac edited a pocket sized computer technology magazine for students that was hugely popular.
"He was one of the earliest to conceive of an Information Society, rather than just Information Technology", said Rajendra Pawar, Founder-Chairman of NIIT, "His zest for liberating and empowering the disabled inspired and motivated us".|
Co-founder and Managing Director Vijay Thadani, recalls that while Prof Isaac formally joined NIIT as soon as he retired from IIT Bombay, his association with the cofounders dates back to the 1970s when they sought his guidance in the formative days of their venture. "He was a true guru of computer science in India and ahead of his time in foreseeing the upcoming information revolution and preparing students for it".
Adds Prof S Sadagopan, Founder-Director of the International Institute of Information Technology, Bengaluru: " Prof Isaac was unique in his special emphasis on computer education not just computer science education. His experiment in running a popular magazine, "Computer Education for You" was ahead of its time".
Prof Isaac's funeral service will take place at St Luke's Church Pampa Mahakavi Road, Bangalore at 11 am on January 25. (Tributes: Isaac_J_r@hayoo.com).