Mansour Safai - R.I.P.
February 10, 2006
Mansour Safai, one of the great unsung heroes of the software development tools industry, passed away in the early morning of February 9th. The picture above is Mansour with his son Nicolai.
Although Mansour was a private person his impact in the industry was profound. He created the most successful standalone debugger of the 1980s, Multiscope, the Symantec C++ family of development tools, Visual Cafe, the first Java IDE and finally, M7 a visual development environment acquired by BEA in late 2005.
I knew Mansour for many years when he was running the programming languages and tools business at Symantec and I was at Borland. He had tried to recruit me many times over the years and I finally joined Mansour in 2002 to work at a new startup company he had founded called M7. The company was an offshoot of some advanced development work Mansour and his team had underway to make Java development much easier. M7 won several industry awards, including twice winning the prestigious "Jolt" award from Software Development Magazine in both 2002 and 2005.
The M7 team was truly gifted. The goal of simplifying Java development from top to bottom was perhaps overly ambitious. Mansour eventually refocused the team to target the emerging open source standards such as Struts, Hibernate and JSP servlets. What emerged was Nitrox, an elegant development environment for building web based applications with the full power of Java.
Mansour will be deeply missed by all those who worked with him. He was a great man who cared both about people and about technology. He made a point of doing things right both in his work and in his life. As Mansour might have said, "Cards on the table... we will miss you."
In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be sent to:
Dr. John Laterra Research Fund
in memory of Mansour Safai
John Hopkins University Dept. of Neurology,
100 N.Charles St., Suite 409,
Baltimore, MD 21201
Dr. John Laterra Research Fund
Memorial Press Coverage:
- Darryl Taft: The Loss of One of Software Development's Stars
- SD Times: Visual Cafe Creator Dies at 43
- PVTose: Passing of a Great Software Architect
- DavidI: Mansour Safai Passed Away
- James Gosling: So Long, Mansour
Background Press Coverage:
- Red Herring: BEA Acquires M7 (2005)
- CIO Insight: M7's Java Environment (2002)
- Symantec: Visual Cafe wins Product of the Year (1997)
- JDJ: Interview with Mansour Safai (1996)
- Byte: Symantec C++ review (1995)
- PC Mag: Tools award for Multiscope Debugger (1989)
Farewell to a good man. Godspeed, Mansoor.
Posted by: Chris | February 10, 2006 at 11:08 AM
We always remember the very kindest of men. I had the pleasure of collaborating with Mansour many years ago at Symantec. And, it was clear to me then that those he welcomed into his personal circle of life and love had to be special and fortunate people indeed. My heart goes out to them all.
Posted by: Jane (DeAngelis) Norton | February 11, 2006 at 10:59 AM
I grew-up with Mansour in the Riviera. He is going to be sorely-missed by all those who knew him and loved him. Aside from the memorable occasions that I very much enjoyed playing tennis with this good-man and exceptionally gifted tennis-player, I will never forget a friendly gesture of kindness that Mansour showed me when I was a 13yr. old boy. Mansour was on summer-break from his studies in Lausanne, and still keeping a very busy schedule during the summer. I had purchased my first remote-control kit car(that came in a box full of hundreds of
unassembled pieces), and my emotionally-unavailable dad was
not available to help me put this car together. I asked for Manour's help one afternoon, and despite his busy-life, the car was assembled and ready for a smiley-faced 13yr. old boy to play with the following morning. This might not mean a whole lot to alot of you, but to a teenage boy who wanted to have some fun during his summer-recess, Mansour was almost like a God-like figure to me.
THANK YOU for being a kind friend and a genuine role-model to me Mansour. I'm going to miss you big-brother !
God Bless your soul and spirit Mansour, and may God always watch over and richly Bless your precious son and your family.
Posted by: M (boyhood friend of Mansour) | February 11, 2006 at 11:23 AM
Mansour's funeral was bittersweet. His brother Mammad gave a very touching and emotional eulogy recalling events from their childhood in Tehran and driving cross country from Boston to Silicon Valley. It was nice that so many people were there. I shared condolences from those who were out of town and unable to make it.
Posted by: Zack Urlocker | February 12, 2006 at 12:06 AM
thank you all for taking the time to write about my father. I actually had never heard about the story of him fixing your car Isaiah; but it seems like something he would do. He wouldn't ever talk of the good things he did due to his great humility. He was the biggest role model of my life, and lived by such a code of ethics and honor that, if I resembling him as much as I can I'll be sure I'm doing the best job possible, he's going to be missed.
Posted by: Nicolai Safai | February 15, 2006 at 08:11 PM
Mansour I will miss you. I love you so much. You were the best uncle for Isabelle, Ethan and me. The best father for Nicolai. How can we live and have fun without you? I love you Mansour
Posted by: alex | February 17, 2006 at 11:56 AM
Thank you for writing about my brother Mansour. I want to share a little story with everyone; I recall once I asked him about his "email signature", he used to sign his email: "-- m". I asked him why don't you sign your name normally. He said that he is not pretentious, and signing the name with little “m” appears more humble and more in line with his character. I loved him more than life. My brother Mansour was the best man I have ever known. I will miss him forever…… -- m
Posted by: Mammad Safai | February 20, 2006 at 06:51 PM
Although my memories are few, but I will always cherish them. My last memory of him was playing Tennis at our house long ago. My condolences to his loved ones.
Posted by: Shahram Safai | March 04, 2006 at 09:01 PM
This was quite shocking when I heard about it!
I worked with Visual Cafe from early on. In fact, I used it to fix some nasty bugs in the first implementation of RMI-IIOP, which was a collaborative project between Sun and IBM.
I had heard about Mansour, was following his career and had always wanted to meet him but it was never to be.
Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Rajioon.
Posted by: Masood Mortazavi | March 06, 2006 at 12:35 PM
Innalilahi wa inna ilaihi raji'un.
Thanks for your great work on advancing human knowledge.
Posted by: Monang Setyawan | March 13, 2006 at 05:39 AM
I once worked for him. he didn't know me at all and took the opportunity to screw me over a job he ended up not paying for it. No offense but my impression wasn't the best.
Posted by: olivier | May 26, 2007 at 06:09 PM
Olivier, sorry to hear about this. That's not at all like Mansour. I don't think I ever saw him harm a fly. He was always a great champion of good technical talent.
Posted by: ZUrlocker | September 11, 2007 at 07:53 PM
My dear cousin Mansour ,
He was a unigue person ,a kind heart and a great intelligence .I would like to give my condolences to all our family .It's not very easy to accept the fact that such a wonderful person all full of life won't be among us anymore .My last memory is that telephone conversation in our house in Iran .That day I had felt that how I was craving to have all my family together as we used to sit for lovely lunch tables organised by my grandma . Dear Mansour God bless you. and your dear family .I miss you and we will always keep you in our heart and soul .
Posted by: Gita Assefi | January 13, 2008 at 01:13 PM
Dear Massy and Family, Gary and I are thinking of you at this anniversary of your tremendous loss and transition. I wish I had met your brother Mansour, but in what I read I see echoes of you. We keep all the family in our hearts and prayers, Much Love, Kathryn, Gary, and little Miguel.
Posted by: kathryn | February 02, 2008 at 08:41 PM
I only worked with you briefly, but you were a distinct force at Symantec. I sincerely wish your family the best in the difficult time. God's speed brother!
Posted by: TedFlug | April 02, 2008 at 04:44 PM