Daniel C. Lynch, Founder of Major Computer Exhibition, Dies at 82

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Daniel C. Lynch, Founder of Major Computer Exhibition, Dies at 82


Daniel C. Lynch, a computer network engineer whose exhibitions of network devices in the 1980s and 1990s helped accelerate the commercialization of the Internet, died Saturday at his home in St. Helena, California. He was 82 years old.

His death was confirmed by his daughter Julie Lynch-Sasson, who said he had suffered from kidney failure.

In the mid-1980s, when the Internet was still the domain of academia and government, Mr. Lynch was a computer facilities manager who played a key role in the early years of data networking. Although the Internet was still very small and limited to non-commercial use, Mr. Lynch was convinced of its ultimate commercial potential.

Daniel C. Lynch in an undated photo. He sold his company Interop to Ziff Davis in 1991 for an estimated $25 million.Credit…The Lynch family

Friends of his had recently founded companies including Cisco Systems and Sun Microsystems. “And I say, wait a minute, I can do that too,” he said in a video recorded to mark his induction into the Internet Hall of Fame in 2019.

In 1986, Mr. Lynch decided to hold a workshop to train vendors and developers to configure devices to route traffic over the Internet. The idea was to make devices from different manufacturers work together and demonstrate the benefits that the Internet could have for businesses. The first event, attended by 300 vendors, was led largely by volunteers who snaked cables around the room and programmed special computers called routers that had just become commercially available to communicate with each other.

“His idea was that if you weren’t willing to connect with everyone else, you couldn’t be there,” said Vinton G. Cerf, vice president and chief Internet evangelist at Google. Mr. Lynch required participants to adhere to TCP/IP, a language spoken by computers connected to the Internet that was quickly becoming an industry standard.

“He essentially helped get the word out in every way possible that the Internet wasn’t just a flash in the pan,” Vinton G. Cerf, a Google executive, said of Mr. Lynch.Credit…The Lynch family

Mr. Lynch called his event Interop in the late 1980s. Within a decade, it grew into one of the world’s largest computer exhibitions and helped create a global community of specialists capable of supporting a networking standard that allowed all the world’s computers to exchange data. One computer industry analyst called it “the plumbing trade show for the information age.”

Interop also published ConneXions, a monthly trade magazine focused on data networking. Today’s market for internet-related devices is estimated at $30 billion.

“He essentially helped get the word out in every possible way that the Internet wasn’t just a flash in the pan or just a research experiment, but that it was a real thing that deserved attention and investment,” Dr. Cerf. And he was right.

In 1991, Mr. Lynch sold Interop to Ziff Davis, a major publisher of computer magazines, for an estimated $25 million.

Daniel Courtney Lynch was born on August 16, 1941 in Los Angeles. His father, Thomas Allen Lynch, was a public relations executive and his mother, Irene Elizabeth (Courtney) Lynch, was an educator.

Mr. Lynch received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and philosophy from Loyola University (now Loyola Marymount University) in 1963. That year he married Bernice Fijak, a graduate of Mount Saint Mary’s College (now Mount Saint Mary’s University) in Los Angeles. Two years later, he received his master’s degree in mathematics from the University of California, Los Angeles.

He joined the Air Force in 1965 and worked as a computer programmer at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico until 1969.

In 1973, Mr. Lynch was hired as a computer manager at the Stanford Research Institute. The Arpanet, the forerunner of the Internet, was in its early years of operation and the Institute was the second node – or connection point – in the emerging network.

Mr. Lynch moved to Los Angeles in 1980 to work as a computer facility manager at the University of Southern California’s Information Sciences Institute, another early Arpanet node.

He left the institute in 1984 “because something happened and I wanted to get involved in a startup,” he said in the 2019 video. He financed the first networking equipment workshop with a Mastercard, a Visa and a $50,000 loan .

After selling Interop, Mr. Lynch founded a winery in Napa Valley and in 1994 co-founded CyberCash, an early Internet-based electronic commerce payment service. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2001.

Mr. Lynch’s first marriage ended in divorce in 1976. In 1978 he married Georgia Sutherland; the marriage ended a year later. His third marriage, to Karen Dement in 1980, ended in divorce in 2003.

In addition to his daughter Julie, Mr. Lynch is survived by five other children – Christopher, Eric, Zachary, Katherine and Michael – and seven grandchildren.



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2024-03-31 20:36:09

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