Google Groups no longer supports new Usenet posts or subscriptions. Historical content remains viewable.

Celebrate the Life of a Good Man - Don Colburn

Skip to first unread message

Elizabeth D Rather

Sep 30, 2009, 8:22:57 PM9/30/09
Received this very sad news a few minutes ago, from Don's brother Dave
<> :


My dear brother Don died this morning.

Don and Chas (his older brother) had been working together last night,
and Don went to bed feeling a bit weak just after midnight. He woke up
around 4:30 this morning and called out to Chas who was sleeping on
Don's couch. He told Chas that he felt he'd just had a heart attack.
Chas called the ambulance and they got Don to the hospital. While there,
he was his normal self, keeping track of the meds and telling the staff
what each med was for and when they had last given it to him. While
undergoing a cardio-cath procedure to diagnose and repair damage to his
heart, his heart failed.

The miracles of modern science couldn't restore the damage that had been
done to his heart and Don made his transition. His is dearly missed by
all who know him.

We would like to gather at Unity of Fairfax (2854 Hunter Mill Road,
Oakton, VA) this Sunday, the 4th of October at 6:00pm for a Memorial
Service to celebrate Don's life. Please bring stories of Don, be they
Toasts, Boasts, or Roasts, that you feel will help us paint a full and
vibrant portrait of the man who meant so much to so many people (knowing
Don, the Roasts are likely to be the one's he'd like the most).

Please RSVP to this email address so that we can get a rough estimate of
how many people will attend.

If you are unable to attend and would like to relay a favorite story of
Don, please respond to me at this email address and I'll be sure it is
presented at the service. If you have pictures of Don that you'd like to
share (yes, even those you may have been saving as blackmail material),
send them to me at this email address.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the National Multiple
Sclerosis Society.

Please, if you know of anyone who I may have missed on this email,
forward it to them.

Elizabeth D. Rather (US & Canada) 800-55-FORTH
FORTH Inc. +1 310.999.6784
5959 West Century Blvd. Suite 700
Los Angeles, CA 90045

"Forth-based products and Services for real-time
applications since 1973."

Elizabeth D Rather

Oct 1, 2009, 3:30:25 PM10/1/09
Elizabeth D Rather wrote:
> Received this very sad news a few minutes ago, from Don's brother Dave
> <> :
> ---------------------------------------------
> My dear brother Don died this morning.

I am astonished that there has been no reaction to this (at least,
here). Don was one of the original implementors of FigForth, and most
widely known as the developer of MacForth and President of Creative
Solutions, which developed and sold MacForth until the mid-90's. He was
also a key member of the ANS Forth Technical Committee (1986-1994).

Those of us who knew him loved him for his brilliant mind, sparkling
wit, inventiveness, and courage.

No cheers here today,

Doug Hoffman

Oct 1, 2009, 4:48:03 PM10/1/09
I didn't know Don personally, but I certainly was very familiar with
his MacForth product starting in 1985 (the original blocks-files-only
version of MacForth). His work was impressive. At the time it was
the only turnkey development system available for the Mac on the Mac.
I also recall the often amusing yet informative documentation. I
think I still have it here somewhere. My thoughts and prayers go to
his family.




Oct 2, 2009, 8:50:17 AM10/2/09
Elizabeth, to find the right words, in english, is difficult for me.

That's a quite sad event.
Please accept my sincere friendships and condolences.

Charles M�lice

"Elizabeth D Rather" <> a �crit dans le message de

Dennis Ruffer

Oct 2, 2009, 10:00:31 AM10/2/09
On Oct 1, 2:30 pm, Elizabeth D Rather <> wrote:
> I am astonished that there has been no reaction to this (at least, here).

I think this has been not unexpected, but still a big shock.

I can't say I knew Don personally, but I had met him and I was aware
of the reasons he had withdrawn from active participation in the
efforts he had become so well known for. It saddened me to learn
about his illness at the time, and it saddens me now to know that
those closest to him are feeling a great loss. Yet, in that sadness,
I can't help but feel relief that his struggle is over. Having
witnessed my own father pass after 25 years of Parkinson's, I can only
imagine the feelings of those involved with multiple sclerosis. Yet,
at the end, I did get to see the end of my father's struggle, and I do
believe Don's struggle has also ended. So, I hope I do not offend, if
I say thank God! I am very grateful for the time he had.

My deepest condolences go out to his friends and family.


Charles Richmond

Oct 2, 2009, 10:33:18 AM10/2/09

I understand what you mean, Dennis. My mother died of cancer and
at the end could *not* find a drug strong enough to relieve her
pain. :-(

It's just very sad when a person's best option is to die...

| Charles and Francis Richmond |
| |
| plano dot net at aquaporin4 dot com |


Oct 2, 2009, 11:09:22 AM10/2/09
From the web:


The first language publicly available to program the original 128K Mac
was MacForth. [], from CSI (Creative
Solutions, Inc) in Rockville MD. (Mac development was then done on a
Lisa.) MacForth was introduced in 2/84, before even the ring binder
version of Inside Mac was available. (The one before the phonebook
edition.) I wish I could remember the name of the implementor (great
at forth, great as a hardware designer) to give him credit. CSI was
sold some time ago, and moved to Western MD. I don't see them on the
Web now, but may just have not looked hard enough.


From the MacForth Plus Manual: MacForth was created by Don Colburn and
Dave Colburn.


Yes! Don Colburn was the name I couldn't recall. Very sharp guy.

Dennis Ruffer

Oct 2, 2009, 7:25:33 PM10/2/09

That legacy is still alive at:

It went to Forth, Inc. for a while, but then Ward McFarland ended up
taking it back.


Elizabeth D Rather

Oct 2, 2009, 7:57:31 PM10/2/09

I last saw Don in 1999, at the abortive attempt to restart an ANSI
review (aborted because the governing body raised participation fees by
a ludicrous amount). In a private conversation, he said he could endure
the physical inconvenience, but really dreaded losing his mental
faculties, should that happen (what MS damages is highly random).

I had an email exchange with him just a few months ago, in which he
reported, "I have recently started up a new company, "3D Metal Parts,
Inc." that repurposes 6-axis industrial robots with a plasma torch for
flexible just in time manufacturing of 3d metal parts." He sent a
picture of a huge robot in his living room, and according to Dave's
message, was working on it the night before he died.

So, I'm grateful that he was spared that greatest fear.

Leo Wong

Oct 5, 2009, 7:12:52 AM10/5/09
I didn't know him either, but send condolences. Last evening I used
MacPorts to port Gforth 0.7.0 to my Mac Mini (Snow Leopard). The port
and Gforth both worked really well.


Doug Hoffman

Oct 5, 2009, 8:09:35 AM10/5/09
On Oct 5, 7:12 am, Leo Wong <> wrote:
> I didn't know him either, but send condolences.  Last evening I used
> MacPorts to port Gforth 0.7.0 to my Mac Mini (Snow Leopard).  The port
> and Gforth both worked really well.

Carbon MacForth also runs just fine on Snow Leopard under Rosetta. I
know this from QuickEdit user reports. QE is my programmer's text
editor written in CMF.

Last I heard from Ward there is a plan to migrate CMF to Intel native
for the Macintosh. I have no idea of the timing or status.

Doug Hoffman

Oct 5, 2009, 12:40:14 PM10/5/09
On Sep 30, 5:22 pm, Elizabeth D Rather <> wrote:
> Received this very sad news a few minutes ago, from Don's brother Dave
> <> :

> ---------------------------------------------
> My dear brother Don died this morning.
It is with sorrow one hears of Don's passing,
I was hoping to see him again sometime, but time has passed too
I didn't know Don well, and had not seen him for many years.
He was bright, articulate, and very intelligent.

My condolences to all who knew him well....

John K. Stevenson, Inventor, 602-206-4174

Albert van der Horst

Oct 6, 2009, 5:55:12 PM10/6/09
In article <>,

Elizabeth D Rather <> wrote:
>Received this very sad news a few minutes ago, from Don's brother Dave
><> :
>My dear brother Don died this morning.

>Please, if you know of anyone who I may have missed on this email,
>forward it to them.

From the members of the Dutch FIG chapter Hans Nieuwenhuijzen knew Don
Colburn personally. He has asked me to forward a message on his

I was touched to receive this announcement, and I remember Don
with gratitude. He was amiable and very gifted, and if I remember
well, he was a point of stability in the Forth group.
Let us wish his brother Dave and family strength for the coming time.

Hans Nieuwenhuijzen

The Dutch FIG chapter sends condoleances to his family.

The Forth community looses one of its most productive members.
Let the extent of his legacy be a consolation. He will be

Groetjes Albert

Economic growth -- being exponential -- ultimately falters.
albert@spe&ar& &=n

Stephen Pelc

Oct 6, 2009, 7:35:32 PM10/6/09
On Wed, 30 Sep 2009 14:22:57 -1000, Elizabeth D Rather
<> wrote:

>My dear brother Don died this morning.

I only met Don a few times face to face, mostly during ANS
meetings. He impressed me, both for his fortitude and cheer
in dealing with his illness, and with his clarity of thought.

It's worth noting that Don and his team introduced many facilities
into Forth 20 years ago that are only now becoming common or
standard practice. We owe him thanks.


Stephen Pelc,
MicroProcessor Engineering Ltd - More Real, Less Time
133 Hill Lane, Southampton SO15 5AF, England
tel: +44 (0)23 8063 1441, fax: +44 (0)23 8033 9691
web: - free VFX Forth downloads

0 new messages