Simonyi in Space Take II
- By Herb Torrens
Microsoft Office pioneer Charles Simonyi, PhD, will visit space for the second time in the spring of 2009, according to Space Adventures, a Virginia-based company that organizes flights for private space explorers.
The planned blastoff will mark the second space trip for the self-professed billionaire. Simonyi helped develop Microsoft Word and Excel.
Hungarian-born Simonyi will train in Russia with the Soyuz TMA-14 crew for the flight. His mission will be to rejoin the crew of the International Space Station.
"Since I was a boy, space has captivated me. The possibilities, the unknown, and the courage of the brave, highly-skilled people who have blazed a path before me are truly humbling," Simonyi explained on his Web site.
Simonyi blazed a path in software development when he joined Microsoft in 1981. He worked on an Excel predecessor known as Multiplan. He also dabbled in virtualization pursuits using a strategy called "revenue bomb," where Multiplan ran on a virtual machine and was ported to multiple platforms.
Simonyi began his career at Xerox in the 1970s. It was at Xerox PARC that he helped develop the first WYSIWYG document presentation program, Bravo. He is credited with introducing object-oriented programming to Microsoft and developed Hungarian notation for naming programming variables used today by Microsoft and other leading software developers, according to a Wikipedia bio.
As a high school student in Budapest, he learned to program while working as a night watchman for a laboratory running a Soviet Ural mainframe. He eventually developed his own compiler that he sold to a government department. He moved to the United States in 1968 to attend Stanford. He's a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley in engineering and mathematics, and completed graduate studies at Stanford in computer science.
In his private life, he dated Martha Stewart for 15 years before marrying Lisa Persdotter, the daughter of a Swedish millionaire. He also built a super-yacht named Skat.
In 2007, Simonyi spent nearly 14 days in space on a Space Adventures-arranged trip to the International Space Station. He was the fifth "space tourist." Space tourists undergo a rigorous six-month training program that mirrors astronaut training.
Details of Simonyi's next mission will be announced in a Space Adventure teleconference on October 6.
Herb Torrens is an award-winning freelance writer based in Southern California. He managed the MCSP program for a leading computer telephony integrator for more than five years and has worked with numerous solution providers including HP/Compaq, Nortel, and Microsoft in all forms of media.