Remembering Bruce Steinberg

I've known Bruce Steinberg since we met online, so long ago I don't remember. I'm guessing it might have been back when SCO was still a leading Unix company and Bruce was its VP of Marketing Communications. Or it might have been through Usenet, or some other pre-Web online service.

We always had so much to talk about. We were both tech geeks from New York who grew up in the fifties and shared interests in radio, photography, music and technology — to name four topics at which Bruce was far more knowledgeable and accomplished than I . That's not idle flattery, either. Bruce was a ham radio operator for so long that he had a four-letter callsign: N6LZ. He was a musician and photographer with a long list of credits at both.

And, of course, he was a techie of the first water. In addition to his radio work and his decade or more at SCO (their best years, from '83 to '93), Bruce was a PCM Telemetry Field Engineer for the Apollo Program at the Kennedy Space Center and a Quality Assurance Engineer for the Mariner Mars Program at Berkeley's Space Sciences Lab. That was back in the '60s. Before that he got his BEE at Cornell, where he also rowed on the varsity crew team. And after that he was a performer and photographer working in the music industry.

Bruce was my best reader. I can't think of anybody who would contribute more interesting, useful or frequent responses to my writing here in Linux Journal (or in my Suitwatch newsletters, or in my blog). Every few weeks or months I could count on a beautifully written email from Bruce that would be thick with facts, lore, wisdom and experience. I often encouraged Bruce to write for public consumption, because he was a terrific writer, and it would have done the world good to share the wealth of Great Stuff that he lavished on his correspondents. But that wasn't his style, and it was cool.

We always talked about getting together, but never did, and now I regret it terribly. Because I got an email this morning in which Bruce Steinberg was the subject rather than the source. It carried news that Bruce is gone. He died early yesterday after a brief illness at age 64.

I've been looking around the Web for some of Bruce's footprints. There are lots of hints and fragments... a posting about Tower of Power to, a thread on Steely Dan in the same group, a thread on calendars and old gear at rec.ham-radio, a posting on vanila extract at

There's a reference to Bruce under one of Brad Templeton's panoramic photos.... a LinkedIn profile with 184 connections and 13 recommendations...

I'm sure many readers also knew Bruce. I hope some of you will fill us in on some links and recollections of one of the most enjoyable and excellent human beings we've known.


Doc Searls is the Editor in Chief of Linux Journal


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Remembering Bruce Steinberg

Georgina Stevenson's picture

Hello, Doc -

I'm Bruce's friend Gina, and I found your wonderful remembrance of Bruce when I did a google search on his name. No doubt you've seen the information posted on the Tower of Power message board, and also on Bruce's own online photo gallery website, but just in case you haven't:

And yes, Bruce was one of most excellent and enjoyable persons I've ever known. Plus brilliant, articulate, complex and very talented, not to mention a walking encyclopedia on all things related to music, photography, technology and a zillion other topics. He will be greatly missed.

B* Open Source Haiku

Ronald Joe Record's picture

Here are a few open source related haiku's that Bruce wrote in email. I felt these would be appropriate for


Recursive haikus
make one ponder the deep things
like "GNU, not Unix"

Open-source haiku:
You can use any of mine
if I can use yours

Reusable code:
Whether haiku or Linux,
it's all the same tune


Friends of Bruce Steinberg

Andy Ebon's picture

I was fortunate enough to know Bruce Steinberg for the last decade. As webmaster for Tower of Power, Bruce was an unbelievable institutional memory for the band.

His presence on Tower's message board, answering endless historical questions was always more generous than one could ever ask.

Andy Ebon
Soul Music News
Tower of Power

Back to Oakland

Sam Whitmore's picture

I believe Bruce once designed a print ad campaign for SCO based on the "Back to Oakland" album cover he designed for Tower of Power. It was a freeway sign that adapted the blue-and-red Interstate symbol to say "Unix System V"... he also designed the cover of the first James Montgomery band album, in which a guy was shot out of a cannon (or appeared to be) in downtown Boston.

Bruce was a huge help to me in my first year of tech reporting... he taught me a lot and was patient when I didn't understand what a kernel was.

Bruce Steinberg

Steven J. Vaughan Nichols's picture

Oh hell.

I don't have any connections to offer, but, like you, I've known Bruce online for decades. He was a good, bright guy and I'll miss him.


Bruce was a photographer for

Anonymous's picture

Bruce was a photographer for many bands and also played harmonica on It's A Beautiful day's first and second album..His photo of a seagull is on the cover.

here's a photo of him backstage at the Fillmore, June 12, 1998, It's A Beautiful Day