R.I.P. Evan Gross, 1960-2012
In 1986, WC purchased an early product for the Macintosh called Thunder. It was simply amazing; it could detect spelling errors as you typed and, if you pressed a key sequence, it popped up a dialog that let you select the right word and pasted it in, all without taking your hands off the keyboard. The whole business of a mouse was still new, but as John Dvorak had observed, “A mouse is a great tool for anyone with three hands.”
What was especially cool was that you only needed one dictionary; Thunder worked in all of your programs. It was there when you needed it, unobtrusive and helpful.
Thunder, and its many upgrades since to the current Spellcatcher X 10.4, was the product of Evan Gross, a wizard programmer and interface genius. Gross nurtured and improved Spellcatcher across 25 years, adding a thesaurus, a glossary feature, multi-lingual support, additional specialized dictionaries and other wonderful features. WC has sung the praises of Spellcatcher before and won’t do so again here, but it is one of the handful of programs that WC has encountered which just works, all the time, just as it should.
WC met Evan Gross half a dozen times, generally at MacWorld Expositions in San Francisco, where he tirelessly demoed his program, listened to problems and offered solutions, and gave programming advice to anyone – including WC – who asked. He was patient, polite and charming. When WC had a rare problem with Spellcatcher, usually resulting from an operating system upgrade, Gross unfailingly responded quickly and helpfully. His company, Rainmaker Research (two men and a Jack Russell Terrier) would be on WC’s short list of great software companies.
But we have lost his genius. Evan Gross died suddenly and unexpectedly at the end of June. WC has no idea the cause of death, but Gross was just 52 years old. WC offers his belated sympathies to Gross’s family, friends and co-workers. And to all of those Spellcatcher users out there, orphaned now.
A sad, sad loss. Smart folks will go to Rainmaker‘s web site and buy Spellcatcher before it vanishes forever.