Joerg Groessler, creator of breakthrough backup programs for HP 3000s, has died at age 55. The German computer scientist and creator of Online Backup, and the first released version of Backpack/3000, passed away quietly in the night of July 23, ending a battle with a brain tumor which had been diagnosed earlier this year.
Groessler celebrated life in his final months in the community, working until his final two weeks on development at ORBiT Software, the company he founded in the early 1980s. Stories describing his transition suite at the Clairmont assisted living facility where he spent his last days included a 62-inch flat-screen monitor to program on and communicate, fed by 2 MB Internet pipe, "because I don't have time to wait."
Groessler was more than an expert programmer, by accounts from community colleagues as well as co-workers in the ORBiT lab. Close friend and business colleague Jane Copeland, who knew him since his seminal HP market days of the 1970s and was in continual contact with Groessler and his family to the very last, said the man's brilliance was apparent.
"He was a genius," said the founder of API Software, a networking solutions provider to the HP 3000 community and beyond. Even while he was continuing lab work for ORBiT, Groessler contributed "very valuable work for us" during his final year, Copeland said.
Mark Klein, ORBiT's lab software manager for more than a decade and a 3000 star who still develops for the company as an independent, said that Groessler's design of Backup — which has stood up through three distinct generations of MPE, from CISC through RISC and beyond — was both an industry breakthrough and prescient.
"He wasn't the typical [lab director] who rides herd over his masses," Klein said. "He told us what he wanted and let us loose to create it." ORBiT's labs, under Groessler's direction, grew to include a star caliber roster of developers including Stan Sieler, Jason Goertz, Paul Taffel, Jacques van Damme and Klein. "A Joerg Groessler ORBiT was a lot of fun to work at," Klein said.