Remembering Dan Hildebrand

Submitted by Admin2 on

It is hard to believe, but tomorrow it will have been 6 years since we lost Dan to cancer. It is also fairly hard to believe, but a large portion of the QNX community probably doesn't know who Dan was. Dan is probably best remembered as the creator of the QNX 1.44 Web Challenge which allowed people to surf the web on his GUI/Browser/OS on a floppy.The following is a quote/archive from (the content has been removed since the last revamp):

Dan Hildebrand 1961-1998

As many of you already know, we lost a dear friend and colleague of ours, Dan Hildebrand, this past July.

Dan's passing is a devastating loss to us at QSSL, and one that will be felt for a very long time. Although he is gone, Dan has left a lasting legacy - and one of a person of far greater years. During his 11 years with us, Dan shared many of his special gifts and was an example for us all.

Always the optimist, Dan taught everyone to reach for their goals and, in doing so, brought out the greatness in every project he contributed to. He was, for example, a key architect in the design of QNX. He also helped discover exciting new possibilities for the Photon microGUI. Among these was the concept of the remote user interface (RUI), which allows a Photon-based embedded system to project its GUI onto the screen of a remote desktop PC.

To many of us, Dan was known simply as 'H', which was fitting because Dan had a talent for presenting complex thoughts in clear, easy-to-understand terms. Because of this his presentations were so persuasive that we often joked that his job title should really be 'QNX Evangelist.'

His contributions to the software industry and to our company are legion. Dan's vast knowledge, ability to simplify complex thoughts, and writing talent earned him a highly respected position not only within our company but in the software industry at large. Industry analysts relied on his insight into technology trends. Organizers of trade conferences regularly invited him to give technical presentations. A wide variety of computing magazines commissioned him to write articles on just about everything including MMUs, web servers, and handheld computers.

He communicated with editors, customers, prospects, industry analysts, and developers all over the world by phone, email, and through a staggering number of newsgroups. He left his mark on the industry but, more importantly, on the people in his professional and personal life because everything he did reflected his passion and enthusiasm for a product he loved so much. His loyalty and love of our company and the people he worked with stands as an inspiration to us all.

But the most important thing he taught us was perseverance. To Dan, the word 'impossible' was like a red flag to a bull. About a year ago, Dan talked about putting together a demo disk for QNX that everyone said was impossible. A GUI, a browser, and an impossible number of other things - most people wouldn't even conceive of fitting that much software onto a single floppy. But to Dan, life presented nothing but a series of challenges to be excitedly tackled one by one. He saw possibilities where other people saw only problems.

Within weeks, Dan had done the impossible - with the help of his colleagues, he'd created a working version of a demo, released it to beta sites and, in the process, created the most successful marketing campaign in our company's history. Since the demo's release, over a million people worldwide have taken the 1.44M Web Challenge and surfed the web with Dan's impossible floppy. What's more, this exposure for QNX has resulted in numerous design wins and has literally changed the face of QSSL forever.

Each new challenge only made Dan dig deeper and try harder. So, when he was given the most terrifying news anyone could imagine, he dug deep, learning everything he could about the brain cancer he had. Always finding hope and possibilities where none seemed to exist, he investigated every treatment available in the world. He fought bravely and never gave up. His never-say-never attitude prevailed to the very end. Dan passed away with dignity and grace on July 7 surrounded by his parents, his wife, Peggy, and his two children, Casey and Neil.

Dan was always looking to understand and push the limits of what is known. And we're sure he's doing that right now. He's probably smiling down on us with that wonderful look of excitement he had when he spotted a new challenge, and thinking 'they're not going to believe this!'

Dan will live forever in the memories of his family, friends, and colleagues. And he will be missed by all who knew him because, in addition to his many professional accomplishments and personal triumphs, he was simply H, an easy-going guy with a great sense of humor, a dedicated husband, father, brother, son, colleague, and friend - a truly great guy.