of his contributions to industry and of his special ability not only to communicate
with others, but also to foster communications amongst diverse groups and disciplines,
including areas outside the traditional realm of computer science (Vaskevitch, “Jim
Gray: His Contribution to Industry”; Rashid, “A Gap Bridger”).
Bruce Lindsay, our longtime sailing and backpacking buddy, who has known Jim
since his Berkeley days, discusses Jim’s contributions to transaction-processing concepts
and techniques (“Jim Gray at IBM: The Transaction Processing Revolution”). Jim’s Tandem years are covered by his old friends and peers, John Nauman and Wendy Bartlett
(“Jim Gray’s Tandem Contributions”). Dave De Witt and Charles Levine overview Jim’s
role in the specification of the debit/credit benchmark (“Not Just Correct, but Correct
and Fast: A Look at One of Jim Gray’s Contributions to Database System Performance”).
David and Jim collaborated for many decades, and Jim visited the University of Wis-consin-Madison yearly. David has just become director of the new Microsoft Jim Gray
Systems Lab in downtown Madison, Wisconsin. Jim had worked hard to help make this
lab happen and would say it is “Great!” that it now exists.
Gordon Bell writes about Jim’s impact in building indefinitely scalable tools (“
Scalability and Immortality”). I occasionally watched Gordon and Jim at work together in
their unique, mad-scientist, creative-process mode, which sometimes involved experimentation in which the odd piece of hardware or software blew up. To my eyes, they
were bonded like two boy scouts, and I watched their world of discovery and invention
with great delight.
Andreas Reuter tells the tale of writing the Transaction Processing book in his article
“Is There Life Outside Transactions? Writing the Transaction Processing Book.” Jim talks
about the start of this book in one of his letters written to me in 1987: “I bought a Mac
to write the Great American Technical Novel. I was to start March 16, but now it is April
27th and I have yet to do anything on it.… So in June I’ll take a leave of absence from
Tandem and devote myself to writing. I will take about three months to start, I figure. It
will be lonely and I am scared that the book may not be good in the end…. I hope that
the book is good. It’s a big risk to sink that much ego into something, a big decision for
me.” As Andreas will tell you, the book took a little longer than expected to finish, but
many good adventures and lots of fine wine and food were had in the process. Tom Barclay, Jim’s peer of many years, writes of another adventure and collaborative effort in his
article “TerraServer and the Russian Adventure….” During this collaboration, Tom and
Jim went to Russia in the dead of winter to obtain access to Russian satellite imagery,
and in the process, Jim learned a little more about Russian toasts, as well as deep winter.
Jim’s accomplishments in recent years are discussed in the concluding articles: “The
Sloan Digital Sky Survey and Beyond” (Alex Szalay), “Building the World Wide Telescope” (Curtis Wong), and “Exploring Ocean Data” (James G. Bellingham). Alex and Jim
had a special relationship, and yes, Alex, Jim would be honored and amazed that you
might even think to name an asteroid after him. Curtis, you already know how blissed
out Jim would be over the success of the World Wide Telescope, and he would be so
honored that you dedicated it to him. Jim Bellingham started working with Jim in 2004
and was extraordinarily helpful in doing drift analysis during the search for Jim. Taken
as a whole, the detailed e-mail communication between Jim Gray and Jim Bellingham
is a fine example of how relationships nurture the genesis, application, and success of