Friday, August 24, 2012

Paul Lutus's software work and round-the-world sail journey

By Vasudev Ram

I was reminded about Paul Lutus (whose work I had come across some years earlier, specifically, his free HTML editor, Arachnophilia, which was good), by reading his comments in a Hacker News thread.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention - what I saw on his Wikipedia page - that he was the creator of the best-selling Apple Writer word processor for the Apple II - which was probably one of the initial reasons for Apple's products becoming a big hit in the mid-1970's or so. (On a personal note, I've worked on some of the home computers from those days, including the Apple II, the Commodore 64, the Sinclair Spectrum, the BBC Micro and the IBM PC Jr. Most of them were great fun to use and write program on, though of course much less powerful than today's PCs. But the software on them tended to be very well written, efficient and fast, in comparison to a lot of the bloatware one comes across nowadays).

I saw that the HN username of one of the commenters was lutusp, and that made me remember his site and Arachnophilia.

The thread itself, and the post that sparked it, are interesting in their own right.

The post that sparked the HN thread:

Selling $2,000+ Worth Of My Unfinished Book (

HN thread about the above post

Then I googled for more info, and came across his web site and a Wikipedia page about him, both of which I found interesting. I did not know earlier that there was a Wikipedia page about him. It has some interesting info, apart from his software stuff, about work he did for NASA, etc.

Paul Lutus Wikipedia page

Excerpts from his Wikipedia page:

[ Before becoming a software author, Lutus designed electronics for the NASA Space Shuttle[1] and created a mathematical model of the solar system that was used by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory during the Viking Mars mission. ]

[ Between 1988 and 1991 Lutus sailed solo around the world in a 31-foot sailboat. His book about the sail, Confessions of a Long-Distance Sailor is available for free on his website.[7] ]

Paul Lutus web site

Some of the software written by him:

RPN (Reverse Polisn Notation) calculator in Python

Signal Generator (three versions of this program, in Python and Java, among others)

The Python version of SignalGen

A scientific / financial calculator

There are many other programs available on his site, most or all of which are free to download, run and study. Linux, Java, Python, and Ruby are some of the topics on his site. I have not checked all the links yet, but probably many of them have software to check out.

I downloaded his round-the-world sailing book and am going to read it over time :)

- Vasudev Ram - Dancing Bison Enterprises

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