I was sad to hear earlier in the week that John Conway had died on 11 April 2020 a victim of Coronavirus.

I never met John Conway but the “Game of Life” was the first meaningful program I wrote in VSAPL at the beginning of my IT career. At the time I was a trainee Systems Analyst in a COBOL environment where my manager had the view that an analyst at a keyboard was wasting their time. Getting sent on a couple of APL courses run by IBM was a lucky diversion.

But then what was I to do with it?

John Conway’s “Game of Life” not only provided the much needed challenge but I feel also changed my life. Within a few weeks of achieving an animated solution running on a dumb mainframe terminal, I had gained enough confidence in handling arrays to switch jobs from Systems Analyst to APL Developer. That was thirty-five years ago so thank you John.

Quotes from others

John Conway was an amazing Mathematician. He did deep work on group theory, free will in Quantum Mechanics as well as Automata. The science journalists at Quanta Magazine have a great article on his life and work.

Bob Korsan

There was a touching tribute on xkcd a couple of days ago. I had a technical issue, caused my laptop screen to blur…

Kevin Appert

Salient links

There is a blog post about his passing with some good comments: scottaaronson.com

Manuel Alfonseca’s blog with news of John Conway’s death and some discussion of the The Game of Life and the multiverse

The APLWiki has a page on “Game of Life

There is a well known video by the late John Scholes’ 2009 GoL video (nearly 200k views now!) in which he steps through his solution.

Wikipedia – John Horton Conway