Leonard Nimoy, 83: Techies, Trekkies Mourn - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
IT Life
Commentary
2/27/2015
03:29 PM
David Wagner
David Wagner
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
100%
0%

Leonard Nimoy, 83: Techies, Trekkies Mourn

Leonard Nimoy inspired several generations of IT pros, engineers, and scientists with his iconic Mr. Spock character on Star Trek.

Steve Jobs: 5 Things We Miss Most
Steve Jobs: 5 Things We Miss Most
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

As Mr. Spock would say, it would be illogical for IT Life not to cover the passing of the great Leonard Nimoy, 83. The man inspired several generations of IT professionals, engineers, dreamers, astronauts, artists, and peacemakers. For a man who played a character of pure logic, he sure spawned a lot of emotion in us.

It is so difficult to separate Leonard Nimoy from Spock that even when he tried with his own autobiographies, he titled one I am Not Spock and the second one I am Spock. Nimoy was, by all accounts, highly passionate, a writer of poetry, a photographer, and very spiritual. Nimoy is quoted as saying, "I'm touched by the idea that when we do things that are useful and helpful -- collecting these shards of spirituality -- that we may be helping to bring about a healing."

That doesn't sound very Spock-like, and yet in many ways it is. Remember that Vulcans have deep wells of emotion that they have learned to control. And Spock, being half human, was always the one to slip in a little humanity within all the logic. The great moments of Spock's character always appeared when logic took a back seat for a moment. We were just as ready to believe in Spock as an analyzer of probability as we were to accept him as a being who communicated with whales. Perhaps Spock's greatest line was one of his last, "Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end."

Nimoy imbued Spock with such heart that, rather than becoming a source of mechanical or robotic boredom, he became the emotional center of the story. While Capt. Kirk pontificated and puffed across the screen, Spock showed us the moral center, the reason it all mattered. With a few logical turns of phrase, Spock pushed Kirk to places he never wanted to go, to think in ways he never wanted to think, to act on his better nature.

Kirk made us all want to be astronauts. Spock made us all want to be explorers.

It wasn’t just Star Trek. Nimoy kept pushing the boundaries with In Search of ..., a TV series you have to be a certain age to remember. In Search of ... explored the paranormal and alternative theories to history. It seems odd, in retrospect, that someone who devoted his time to a character dedicated to science would spend so much time talking about Big Foot and UFOs. But, to Nimoy, it must have been about the same thing -- exploring the unknown. In Search of ... spawned a generation of conspiracy theorists, but it also spawned people like you and me, people who wanted to know things, ask questions, and seek alternative answers.

Take this clip as an example. This is an episode about how asteroids will destroy the earth, but the Star Trek spirit was alive and well in the clip as seen through the eyes of scientists and astronauts:

And let's not forget the artist Leonard Nimoy. Let's just call that career hit or miss. There were wonderful hits that I can't show here like these Nimoy's beautiful nudes that were part of his long photography career.

And there were misses like his musical career:

But hey, let's give Nimoy credit for writing the second-best Tolkien-inspired song. No one beats Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On" anyway.

Taken together it was a long and wonderful life. One can't escape saying that he lived long and prospered. And we prospered because he was here. One only needs to look at the flip-phone and the Star Trek communicator to see how Star Trek inspired a generation of engineers. There are countless more examples.

(Image: Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia)

(Image: Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia)

We may have lost him, but he leaves behind a legacy of great shows and a greater impact on us. We will miss him, but he'll never really be gone. He is immortalized in film in giant databases inspired by those he accessed from his seat in the Enterprise. Thankfully, we already have gotten a chance to eulogize him once as he died on screen. Kirk says it of Spock, but I’m pretty sure Shatner and all of us would say it about Nimoy: "Of all the souls I've encountered in my travels, his was the most human."

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio
We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
Ariella
100%
0%
Ariella,
User Rank: Author
2/27/2015 | 4:07:31 PM
sad
I'd venture to say that's the top trending topic on Twitter. It's definitely among the top on both Facebook and Google+. He was not just a symbol of Star Trek but respected as an person, as well.Leonard Nimoy will be very much missed. 
David Wagner
100%
0%
David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
2/27/2015 | 4:18:35 PM
Re: sad
@Ariella- I have no doubt. What is interesting about Star Trek is that it produced three (at least) stars who continued to be relevent long after the show, and were especially popular on social media, something which wasn't even close to being invented when the show came out. Shatner, Takei, and Nimoy transcend generations.
tzubair
50%
50%
tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
2/27/2015 | 6:15:35 PM
Re: sad
@David: I think the best part about Star Trek and Spock was how they will continue to inspire people for years despite it being a science fiction of the past. I can imagine my kids to sit and enjoy the series as much as I did when I first watched it.
Ashu001
0%
100%
Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2015 | 8:42:02 AM
Re: sad
Taimoor,

That's the sheer Magic of the Series!

To The Future and Beyond!

The Basic reason why the Series was so loved was because it answered a Basic Human Need -To Quench our Thirst of Curiousity.

Its a never ending desire for sure.

 
StaceyE
100%
0%
StaceyE,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2015 | 11:09:43 AM
Re: sad
@ tzubair

I agree, Star Trek is timeless entertainment. I am a mother of 6 (oldest 28, youngest 9) and all of our kids love Star Trek. Mr. Nimoy was someone that has "always been there" and it is very sad to hear of his passing. 
StaceyE
100%
0%
StaceyE,
User Rank: Ninja
2/27/2015 | 6:27:33 PM
Re: sad
Great article David. Mr. Spock has been a favorite of mine since I was very young. So glad he "lived long, and prospered"!
David Wagner
100%
0%
David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
2/27/2015 | 11:18:20 PM
Re: sad
Thanks to everyone telling me it was a nice tribute. It was a hard thing to sum up a man's life in 700 words, especially his life. I'm glad I did him some credit. 
StaceyE
50%
50%
StaceyE,
User Rank: Ninja
3/24/2015 | 1:26:47 PM
Re: sad
He did have a very interesting life. Sad that sometimes we don't learn things about people until they are no longer with us.
Broadway0474
100%
0%
Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
2/27/2015 | 11:23:16 PM
Re: sad
Ariella, that gives me hope about humanity and social media if Nimoy was trending, instead of some pop or sports star, or a dress or something. Hopefully his memory and his character live on for generations.
David Wagner
50%
50%
David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
2/28/2015 | 12:02:58 AM
Re: sad
@broadway0474- But the dress, it was blue and black! Or it was white and gold! this is important. :)
Broadway0474
50%
50%
Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2015 | 10:38:45 PM
Re: sad
I saw blue and black, and whey and gold. Don't know what that says about me. Easy to please I suppose.
Ariella
50%
50%
Ariella,
User Rank: Author
3/1/2015 | 12:08:56 PM
Re: sad
@David the system won't let copy the whole thing. I've tried numerous times. One of the popular tweets yesterday combined the two by postin a pic from TOS with the Captian in his gold shirt and Spock in his blue and this: from @garywhitta The only blue and gold that matter today.
glenbren
50%
50%
glenbren,
User Rank: Ninja
3/1/2015 | 1:02:28 PM
Re: sad
I probably watched most of the old Star Trek shows because my husband was a huge fan. He still watches reruns almost every day. I wouldn't have watched them on my own, but did enjoy them, and Spock was my favorite character.

I just thought the dress was ugly, no matter if it was blue or gold.
Ashu001
50%
50%
Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2015 | 8:35:45 AM
Re: sad
Broadway,

Do Believe me!

There is hope for Humanity even today!

If you track Twitter Followers very closely about 30%-40% of them are just automated Bots(sometimes the Numbers are even higher).

So to see such a Huge number of people speaking about Leonard Nimoy itself should tell you that these are real people who are doing the Tweeting and not some Self-publicist Organization.

After all,What does a Dead Person have to gain from Trending on Twitter?
StaceyE
0%
100%
StaceyE,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2015 | 11:11:41 AM
Re: sad
@ Broadway

I think his legacy will certainly live on for generations. I imagine fifty years from now people will still be watching old episodes of Star Trek.
mejiac
100%
0%
mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2015 | 3:08:19 PM
Re: sad
@StaceyE,

I was talking to my wife about how a person embraced his life based on a character he had portraid only a number of times. I think that we were lucky we got to see him on film in his iconic role in the latest versions of star trek, along some execellent voice over work he was also well known for.

Will truly be missed
Charlie Babcock
100%
0%
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
2/27/2015 | 4:09:44 PM
Nimoy extended himself to reach others
Nice piece on the meaning of Nimoy's life, Dave. He was one of my favorite Star Trek characters, keeping what could have been runaway silliness from getting out of hand. If left to Capt. Curt, who knows how some of those episodes would have turned out. I remember seeing Nimoy at an event at the Children's Museum in Cambridge, Mass.,, aimed at interesting children in science. He extended himself in many ways.
David Wagner
100%
0%
David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
2/27/2015 | 4:15:51 PM
Re: Nimoy extended himself to reach others
Thanks, Charlie. I like how you said he extended himself. He truly did. One of my favorite stories about that is that at some point he entered into a contract (that I think he later regreted) that did not permit him to sign autographs for anyone but the company. He used to have to say to fans that he couldn't sign anything without breaching the contract. But then he'd say to them, "But I like hugs." And then he'd hug them and let them take pictures.

We know of many celebrities who don't like to be touched (and for many there's a good reason). I always thought that was such a wonderful gift he gave to fans since he couldn't give them a signature. For most, I suspect it was more memorable.
tzubair
100%
0%
tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
2/27/2015 | 6:20:58 PM
Re: Nimoy extended himself to reach others
@David: The fact that a celebrity who's already so famous did that speaks volumes about his humility and love for the fans. I wasn't aware of his off-air life but after knowing incidents like these he's won a lot of respect.
David Wagner
100%
0%
David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
2/27/2015 | 11:21:49 PM
Re: Nimoy extended himself to reach others
@tzubair- I think it was Nimoy that convinced William Shatner that Trekkie conventions were wonderful to do. Shatner has always had a different relationship with Star Trek than Nimoy. While both did other things, Shatner was a bigger name already when he played Kirk. And he has several more other big shows. Nimoy was so good at playing Spock, it was hard to see him as something else. Ultimately he embraced that as his legacy in a way Shatner never has. It makes it easier for him to love his fans.
Ashu001
50%
50%
Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2015 | 8:39:40 AM
Re: Nimoy extended himself to reach others
David,

Could'nt agree more!

Nimoy/Spock was very much Star Trek ;nothing more Nothing Less.

It also helped that he was an immensely down to earth(mind the Pun) person as against Mr Shatner's More Aloof nature.
StaceyE
0%
100%
StaceyE,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2015 | 11:13:37 AM
Re: Nimoy extended himself to reach others
@ David

What a great story. Mr. Nimoy really did seem like he was a genuinely kind hearted person. Even as a vulcan, it shined through. ;)
Ashu001
50%
50%
Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2015 | 8:45:38 AM
Re: Nimoy extended himself to reach others
Charlie,

Not just extended but very much made Science Cool for Kids in ways one can't even imagine anyone doing/trying today.

Can you Believe it that this Legendary Figure who inspired so many kids to take up Science/Astronomy is no more today?

Is that to do with the Very real Dumbing down of our Society as we see it currently?

 
mak63
100%
0%
mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
2/27/2015 | 4:28:54 PM
Techy and Trekky
I would like to thanks David for this wonderful and emotional article. Live long and prosper.

Mr Spock, you will be missed.
asksqn
100%
0%
asksqn,
User Rank: Ninja
2/27/2015 | 5:17:14 PM
We'll miss you, Leonard
What a great tribute.  R.I.P. Spock.  
Somedude8
50%
50%
Somedude8,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2015 | 2:11:23 PM
He did
He lived long, and he prospered.
Technocrati
50%
50%
Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2015 | 4:37:21 PM
Re: He did

R.I.P   Leonard Nemoy  ( aka  Mr. Spock ).

PedroGonzales
50%
50%
PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2015 | 9:55:01 PM
Re: He did
We will all miss such a great man.  leondard Nimoy as spock made a huge impact on many people's lives. We will never forget him
zerox203
100%
0%
zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2015 | 11:35:30 PM
Re: Leonard Nimoy, 83: Techies, Trekkies Mourn
Few actors can claim a legacy as great as Mr. Nimoy's. If the huge outpouring all across the world over just one day is not evidence enough of that, then some of the unique and unparalleled aspects of that legacy that you've highlighted here certainly are. The bit about being immortalized in a database he helped inspire really drove it home for me. It's not a stretch to say he had a hand in inspiring more technology than any single actor in history. A fun aside that occured to me is that your statement is literally true, because Memory Alpha, the Star Trek Wiki, is designed to be read like a federation database (not sure if you were intentionally referring to this), and of course Mr. Nimoy is in it. There's a unique honor that few actors can claim.

By many of his and the other actors' own accounts, they could never have predicted just how profound an effect Star Trek would have on the collective consciousness and inspiring future generations of scientists. In light of that, the fact that his character (an emotion-averse loner responsible for spewing the most tech jargon) in particular was the one everyone gravitated to is a testament to just how great an actor he was and how much passion he put into what could have been a humdrum role. I learned recently that he taught method acting before being cast on Star Trek. It must have been quite a challenging task playing Mr. Spock that way, and it explains a lot about the depth of his character. We're wont to say 'he will be missed' at any famous person's passing, but for me, in this case, it's particularly true.
David Wagner
100%
0%
David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
3/2/2015 | 3:43:20 PM
Re: Leonard Nimoy, 83: Techies, Trekkies Mourn
@zerox203- I hadn't thought of that, but you're right. The Star Trek wikis really add a sense of reality to all of it. My favorite thing about Star Trek is how many people are inspired to literally create the world they've seen. I bet we could get a few million people willing ot make San Francisco the seat of galatic government. :)
TerryB
50%
50%
TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
3/2/2015 | 1:26:15 PM
RIP Spock
Hits close to home just how much time has passed. Still remember watching that as a kid when it was all new shows on TV. Star Trek, The Wild Wild West and Man from UNCLE were the highlights of my pre cable childhood when it came to TV.

Still wish I could have learned that Vulcan nerve pinch. How many meetings have I been in that would have come in handy.

Mr Nimoy is a great example of living your life to the fullest. I'm sure he had few regrets at the end.
David Wagner
50%
50%
David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
3/2/2015 | 3:00:24 PM
Re: RIP Spock
@TerryB- I have to say the geek in me just swells with joy every time I see Data do the Vulcan neck pinch in the Next Generation crossover and Spock says, "Not bad."

People often comment about how TV was "better" back before cable. I don't know if it is better or worse, but one of the advantages o having only three channels was that the competition to get on the air was higher. You couldn't just get turned down by the networks and then sell your crummy idea to cable. It had to be among the best 70-100 shows on TV.

What is astounding then is how many crappy shows they still made. :)
JIMPRO
50%
50%
JIMPRO,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/2/2015 | 3:00:56 PM
Godspeed, Leonard Nimoy

I, too, found fascinating the original series and received much inspiration from it and still do. Kudos to Gene Roddenberry for creating characters we could all aspire to while instilling an optimism I hope we never lose. Amazing is the longevity of Leonard Nimoy's character, Mr. Spock. With the original series being filmed in December, 1964 (!) and "Star Trek: Into Darkness" coming out in 2013, can any other screen actor say they have played the same character for 49 years?!!! Wow!

Godspeed, Leonard Nimoy. Say hello to "Scotty" and "Bones" for us!

David Wagner
50%
50%
David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
3/2/2015 | 3:05:05 PM
Re: Godspeed, Leonard Nimoy
@JIMPRO- I can't think of one. But it looks like some of the Star Wars characters might be the next to challenge it. We'll see how many sequels include Luke, Leia, and Han. Though there is a rumor they all die in Episode VII, I can't imagine that they could kill them all without people burning down the theaters.
Slideshows
Reflections on Tech in 2019
James M. Connolly, Editorial Director, InformationWeek and Network Computing,  12/9/2019
Slideshows
What Digital Transformation Is (And Isn't)
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  12/4/2019
Commentary
Watch Out for New Barriers to Faster Software Development
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  12/3/2019
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
State of the Cloud
State of the Cloud
Cloud has drastically changed how IT organizations consume and deploy services in the digital age. This research report will delve into public, private and hybrid cloud adoption trends, with a special focus on infrastructure as a service and its role in the enterprise. Find out the challenges organizations are experiencing, and the technologies and strategies they are using to manage and mitigate those challenges today.
Video
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll