Vic Poor, W5SMM (SK)


Victor (Vic) Poor, W5SMM, of Melbourne, Florida, passed away Friday, August 17, due to complications from pancreatic cancer. He was 79. Just last month, Poor -- an ARRL member -- received the ARRL President’s Award for his contributions to the development of digital communications systems in the Amateur Radio Service. Poor was also known for his work in the development of one of Intel’s first commercial microprocessors.

Poor -- who also held the calls AH6AXV and K3NIO -- developed an active interest in ham radio while still in high school and became W6JSO in 1951. He quickly developed an affinity for RTTY and later other digital modes of interest in Amateur Radio, and was instrumental in the development of many hardware and software innovations that are at the heart of modern day computing and communications technology, used both in Amateur Radio and in industry

As new digital technologies, including packet, became available in the 1970s and ’80s, so did lower-cost computers. These advances motivated Poor to further improve digital transmission networking techniques into APLINK, a robust automatic global store-and-forward system that led the ARRL to include the system for use in their National Traffic System (NTS).

In 1999, Poor organized a volunteer amateur development team to replace APLINK. He envisioned a more advanced amateur message forwarding system that, integrated with the Internet and other mail systems, handled multiple destination addresses and accepted data files of any format: Winlink 2000 (WL2K).  and is maintained and managed by the Winlink Development Team (WDT). Until his death, Poor served as the principal architect of the system. Today, many disaster communications groups -- including ARES and non-governmental organizations -- as well as governmental agencies such as MARS and federal, state, county and city agencies use Winlink 2000.

Poor Helped Develop Microprocessor Chips, ARCNET

In 1969 -- while working as an engineer at the Computer Terminal Corporation -- Poor approached Intel, then a tiny Silicon Valley chip maker, with a proposal to build a processor for a programmable terminal that Computer Terminal was planning to build. Intel was already designing a simpler processor, the 4004, the forerunner of the microprocessor chips found in today’s personal and computing devices. With financing from Computer Terminal, Intel began building a second microprocessor, the 8008, the world’s first 8-bit microprocessor. This would lead to the 8088 family of microprocessors, which was adopted in 1981 by IBM, paving the way for Intel to dominate the microprocessor business.

Several years later, Poor was a member of a small group of engineers who conceived of a computer network called ARCNET (Attached Resource Computer NETwork), a local area network protocol similar in purpose to Ethernet or Token Ring. ARCNET was the first widely available networking system for microcomputers and became popular in the 1980s for office automation tasks.

Arrangements are pending.  -- Thanks to The New York Times for some information