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RIP Danny Cohen: The Computer Scientist Who Gave World Endianness, Meets His End Aged 81

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Cohen speaking in 1985 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Danny Cohen, a computer scientist whose work on computer graphics and networks led to innovations in flight simulation, Internet telephony, and cloud computing, passed away Aug. 12 at the age of 81.

Credit: Ira Wyman

The computer scientist who created the first visual flight simulator, gave us the compsci concept of endianness, and whose pioneering work blazed a trail for modern VOIP services, has died at the age of 81.

Danny Cohen worked on one of the first ever computer-based flight simulations in the early 1970s, an era where most think of computing as something that was still reliant on punch cards instead of advanced graphics processing and display technologies.

In addition, Cohen gave us the compsci notion of endianness and developed some of the first clustered computing deployments – paving the way for modern cloud technology.

The flight simulator created was very basic by modern standards but wouldn't be bested by generally available software until the advent of home gaming consoles more than a decade later.

What made his flight sim achievements even more remarkable was that it wasn't until after he developed the simulator that Cohen learned to fly in real life, as he told Wired in a 2012 interview.

Cohen, who was born in what would become Israel, also carried out some early work on what he described as "digital voice teleconferencing" in 1978, as this Youtube video published from an account seemingly in Cohen's name sets out.


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