TRIBUTE TO LES EARNEST AND HIS CONTRIBUTION TO SAIL
We are here tonight because Les Earnest took the trouble to bring us together. It’s a family reunion, Les’
extended family. He has always done things for us as his extended family.
For me, this is the night when we honor Les for the remarkable contributions he made to SAIL and AI as the chief executive officer of SAIL. His work at SAIL was of great competence, diligence, compassion for people and their situations, and the highest integrity. He was not only the chief executive officer. He was also the Chief Human Relations Officer, the Chief Engineer, and the Chief Architect. Now he is our Chief Patriarch. It was not easy doing this among the visionary but highly variable demands of John McCarthy, the rest of us, the Stanford bureaucracy, and DARPA.
Most of you don’t know how the McCarthy and I managed to find Les. Was it divine intervention? No. It was the intervention of Ivan Sutherland. Ivan had taken over from J.C.R. Licklider as head of ARPA’s Information Processing research office. He had just signed off on our 1965 proposal to ARPA. He was giving a lot of money to two professors who probably would not know how to manage it, but in any event needed adult supervision. So Ivan sent Les to us, with results that all of you, as well as McCarthy and I, benefited from.
If it can be said of a laboratory that it had “a heart and a soul,” then Les Earnest was the heart and soul of SAIL.
Thank you, Les. We are deeply grateful for what you did for us and admire greatly what you accomplished doing it.