A few days ago while reading an article I end up by means of clicking on a random link to browsing YouTube. I stumbled over the creation of Terry Davis. That is TempleOS an operating system he built completely by himself! I wanted to know the end to end story of this man and his work so I educated myself and this is the summary of what I researched. I hope it will help others that end up having the same questions I had.
He was mentally ill and unfortunately was treated as many people today react to mentally ill people, mostly cruelly and mockingly while a few acts with understanding and kindness. The long story of what I learned.
He had begun live-streaming, where he would
take call-ins to his landline
. It's there that a concerted campaign to get Terry to alienate himself from his parents (with whom he lived) and stop taking his medication. This is not to mention how they egged on romantic feelings for a YouTube personality who they would later impersonate and
within awful ways.
All this led to Terry's parents being unable to house him. They were very old and the situation became impossible. Terry survived on the streets for some time, meeting up with (genuine and loving) fans along the way. Terry sadly was struck by a train.
If you want to learn more about Terry's life and death there are two videos that I found very enlightening;
- Fredrick Knudsen's video essay
- Parker Milum full rundown and easy to follow for fewer techies than me
Both videos are very good but the one that captivated me is Paker's perhaps because he touched more the human element while still giving technical information about Terry's work. I recommend both though.
Out of all the streaming and work that he did, besides building an entire freaking OS by himself, what captured me from the intellectual point of view, it is the building of a simulator and a sprite editor.
Check out this demo he does in a way that is really captivating.
I have people close to me that they suffer from mental illness and different kind and perhaps it is my openness to the subject that made me appreciate Terry in a way that the ones that stuck with him did. His racist and derailed comments were the results of the sickness but in the between he was showing insights from technical to a philosophy angle that was unique and valuable.
Out of various comments that I read between forums and YouTube this one by Suave Atorestruck me as the most fitting.
It's almost like seeing an AI becoming self-aware. It's as if his true self still exists but is buried under random impulses, and he knows something's wrong, but he cannot properly make a diagnosis because of his impaired faculties. His story shouldn't have ended like this. He deserved more. Shine on you crazy diamond. You truly would've been the smartest programmer who ever lived.
In the process of reading and watching videos about this, I ran into something that seems to be "normal" like running Windows 2000 on iPhone via Safari or Chrome. Or if you want to go even more back in time you can pick any of those poisons.
He did some amazing work considering that he did not use any external library to get his job done!!
His original creation didn't have, by design, network support among other things that are a must to have today and back then as well. I learned that after his death someone implemented some of those missing features like networking. Since Terry's code was and is on GitHub.
The creator Terry A. Davis died last year, August 11, 2018. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_A._Davis
Be kind, there's something to learn from anything and in particular from anyone. And if you let your status quo cloud you, then you deride others that look different slipping away from getting enriched and often for free.