Veteran computer guru Prof J.R. Isaac passes away

25th January 2019
Veteran  computer guru Prof J.R. Isaac passes away
Prof J R Isaac (seated second from right) with the team at NIIT in the 1990s, including Sugata Mitra second from right

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: