Charles Alton Forsberg
Date of birth: May 6 1944
Date of death: September 24 2015
Charles Alton "Chuck" Forsberg
Chuck Forsberg died on September 24, 2015, in Portland, Oregon. He was 71.
Chuck was a man of many accomplishments. He exhibited a multi-faceted persona that friends, family, loved ones and even Chuck would acknowledge, was at times quirky and contradictory.
Chuck Forsberg was:
- An intellectual genius, who always seeded his ideas, accomplishments and creations with a stiff measure of pragmatic common sense.
- A technical engineer who was as comfortable writing the English language as he was writing computer code or designing electronic circuits.
- Someone who couldn’t remember people’s names or faces, but retained the complex details of electronic circuits he had designed 40 years earlier.
- That rare engineer who combined expertise and proficiency in both software and hardware engineering.
- A self-taught and self-described "know-it-all" on nutrition and diet, while conceding being as much as 200 pounds overweight.
A man with many passions, Chuck was a strong member of a great family, a true friend to many and a wonderful loving husband. Quite simply, Chuck was a caring, nice man who made lives better for those around him.
Like most of us, Chuck’s life could be mapped out by eras, with their own benchmarks. There were the times of being overweight or thinner, being single or married, the 20 years living on a houseboat, the 20 years of living at Caddy Shack, before and after heart surgery, and time flying as a private aircraft pilot followed by being grounded for health reasons.
Charles Alton Forsberg was born May 6, 1944 in Wilmette, Illinois. He was the third child of Margery and Charles Lundberg. His older sisters were Annie and Susie. Chuck was only two or three when his father died. Chuck shared both his biological father’s physical appearance and aptitude for electrical engineering.
In 1949, Chuck’s mother, Margery, married Delbert Forsberg. Delbert adopted the entire family, providing Chuck with his Forsberg last name.
Delbert and Margery Forsberg had three children together: Christie, Connie, and Adele. The Forsbergs and their six children lived in Madison, Wisconsin. Del Forsberg was a successful businessman, owning and operating Forsberg Paper Box Company. Margery managed the busy household.
Chuck was a precocious, even mischievous, little boy. He shared the benefits of living in a lovely home and prosperous community. But many of his grade school teachers just didn’t understand this incredibly bright but complex kid. His academic performance ranged from mixed to disappointing. Academic evaluations labeled him a chronic underperformer.
In those early years he was known as Chucky, a moniker he disliked. Then at 12 years old, he announced to his friends that they should call him either Chuck, Charlie, or Charles. He was asserting himself, a sign of maturing and growing up.
Chuck’s parents knew him far better than his teachers. Together with him, they made a life-changing decision. They enrolled him in the Alton, Illinois Western Military Academy. The order, discipline, atmosphere and academic rigor at the academy transformed him. After four years of high school in an extremely competitive environment, he finished second in his graduating class. Western Military Academy was an intense formative experience for Chuck. For the rest of his life he told stories about the impact these years had on him.
Chuck said that he always wanted a career in electronics, and he never considered any other profession. He started college at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, achieving an excellent academic record in a demanding program. After two years at Rensselaer, he transferred to the University of Wisconsin, graduating in 1966 with a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering. He continued at the University of Wisconsin, earning a Master’s degree in electrical engineering.
Chuck married Diane Gilles while he was still a student in the Master’s program. They had no children and the marriage ended in divorce four years later.
In 1968 he had attractive professional engineering job offers from three solid companies. He accepted the invitation from Tektronix, in Beaverton, Oregon. It was a perfect match. It was a company and a position that allowed him to thrive. He had good managers who knew how to use his talents. Yes, Chuck was a talented engineer, but he was also naturally creative, providing Tek with inspired design and forward-thinking innovations.
The company recognized his unique talent and special set of skills. Chuck was quickly given a lot of responsibility, culminating in his assignment as the project engineer for the Tektronix 4014 computer graphics terminal project, a hugely successful product for the company.
In 1974, Chuck was recruited by Sidereal Corporation, a small startup computer communications company. When he started, Chuck did Sidereal's engineering work on the dining room table of his houseboat. He was both the hardware and software engineer for Sidereal’s first project, the Micronet.
In the early 1980s, when Chuck was designing specialized word processing hardware at a company called CDI, he made computer programming history. In his free time he wrote a file transfer protocol software that would change his career, and propel him into an elite group of computer software pioneers.
Initially he released YModem, a program that improved on another programmer’s work called XModem. Chuck’s notoriety grew and a large timeshare company, needing an even better data communications program, contracted with Chuck to write an improved version.
The result was ZModem. ZModem was good, really good, and Chuck became more prominent in the industry. At the time, noted PC Magazine columnist John Dvorak said about Chuck’s work: "Here's the simple fact. Zmodem is the state of the art protocol for microcomputers. … It's fast and bullet-proof."
In 1984 Chuck founded Omen Technology to market his software. Again, operating out of his houseboat home, he made Omen Technology successful. At one point he had ten telephone lines running into his house to accommodate product downloads and customer service.
In 1995 Chuck moved out of his home of 20 years. From his houseboat on Sauvie Island, he moved to a modest house he called Caddy Shack, located on a magnificent five acres near Hillsboro. He continued to successfully operate Omen Technology from Caddy Shack for several more years, until he retired.
Having his own company allowed Chuck to be Chuck. He got up when he felt like it (usually in the afternoon), he worked when he felt like it, and wrote the software he wanted to write. He was a guru in the fullest sense of the word. A quote in a trade magazine summed it up, "Many people study and work at learning computers and engineering. Chuck Forsberg just knows."
Chuck loved to fly. In 1994 he obtained his private pilot license and bought his own Cessna 182 aircraft. He quickly earned the challenging instrument flight rating. Much of his social life centered around aviation clubs, including Sunday brunches at the Flying M Ranch.
Heart surgery in 2002, and a resulting failed flight physical, grounded Chuck. Then an improved physical exam in 2004 gave him a one-year reinstatement and he was back in the air. He was bitterly disappointed in 2005 when poor health grounded him for good. While never piloting an aircraft again, Captain Chuck still kept his aircraft in flying condition, and didn’t sell it until 2012.
Chuck was a ham radio operator for about 50 years. His FCC designated call sign was WA7KGX. He bought the best equipment, and true to form on all things electronic and technical, he just knew stuff. In his later years, ham radio became particularly important to him because it was an enjoyable activity that he could physically handle. He was an active member of two ham radio clubs.
Back in 1977 at Sidereal, Chuck had met Betty Miles. At that time she was an office temporary for the company. Some 28 years later in May 2005, when both of their lives had changed dramatically, Chuck and Betty Miles Loveness became a couple, and in November 2006 they were married.
Here are some things Betty shared.
We fell in love very quickly, and had an intense, deeply satisfying, compatible relationship. We didn’t have to talk about our relationship very much, because it was easy. I let Chuck be Chuck, and he let me be me. For the big stuff, the important stuff, he was a wonderful husband. He never was controlling, critical, or demanding. He was a prince.
I do have to say that for the fluff-stuff, romantic gestures, he was completely clueless. But it didn’t matter. We both regretted not getting together in the 1970s, saying to each other, “This is who I should have been with the whole time.”
Chuck and Betty made the most of the years 2006 through 2009, going on five major foreign trips. They spent time in England, Italy, and Spain, and took several cruises in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. Chuck was a great traveler. He remembered an incredible amount of detail and took thousands of pictures.
Charles Alton Forsberg
Officer aboard the Starship Enterprise
Jedi Master of The Force
Companion to Dr. Who
Kitty cat lover, Master of All Things Cat, "Meow, meow."
Founding human member of the Order of Crowdom, "Caw, caw."
In conclusion, here are some random thoughts about Chuck that either do not fit any of the previous categories or should be included with all of them.
A little goofy? Yes, indeed, but he was rock solid and steady. Odd? Yes, of course. He was odd in the cutest, most delightful, lovable way. A geek? Absolutely, self-acknowledged and unashamed.
At the height of his career, he was "The Chuck Forsberg." To most, he was Chuck. To his family he was usually Charlie. To Betty he was sometimes King Charles or Dude.
His friends, family and loved ones respected him, depended on him, and cared about him. They agonized about his health. Most were awed by his intellect and capabilities. Then there were those very close to him, those who loved him, and he loved them back.
He was a good man who will be missed by many, but remembered for a long time.
He is survived by his wife, Betty Forsberg, sisters, Annie Stuart, Sue Bryant, Christie French, Connie McClure, and Adele Thompson.
The Railroad Track
While playing around the railroad tracks in his neighborhood he installed a sensor apparatus to the tracks, attached to a long wire. This setup detected when the trains were coming. The railroad security men were outraged with this tampering and came looking for Charlie Lundberg. The railroad security police were expecting Charlie Lundberg to be a teenager, and they were flabbergasted when they found out that Charlie was in grade school – Kindergarten, in fact. Chuck said that he got in big trouble for that escapade.
Lover of Kitties
To say that Chuck loved cats is an understatement. He could recite the names of all of his memorable cats, and even had a section of his Omen Technology blog devoted to Varmit Forsberg, a nearly perfect cat. The eras of Chuck’s life could also be defined by his cats. He might have been unclear about when he dated or lived with certain women, but he could tell you when he had each of his cats.
Chuck was a collector of all things electronic. No piece of equipment was unworthy of shelf space, no matter how old or useless.
83 tribute candles have been lit
Candle lit by Jeff Martin I never met Chuck in person, but interacted with him online in the early 80s, mainly about some minor contributions to his "YAM" program. Even via email, something about his character was endearing and memorable to me. One funny thing that has stuck in my memory was from the comments in his YAM.C program. He called the asterisk a "Nathan" because Nathan Hale lamented that he had only one asterisk for his country. I tried to follow him online over the years, and I'm very sorry for his passing.
Candle lit by Paula
Candle lit by Ray Zapp I am forever grateful for what I have learned from the Wizard. Such a great guy.
Candle lit by Richard Van Dyke I met Chuck while flying. We had similar airplanes and often talked of our flying adventures. I saw him often at the Flying "M" where he was a regular. We became good friends and alternated Thanksgiving Dinner at each others place. He will be missed.
Candle lit by Phil Pirrotta I met Chuck at the airport hangars when I bought my plane. It did not take long to learn we both held Amateur Call Signs, an interest in electronics, and of course flying. Those times we met the guys for lunch Chuck always had something new to show, or tell us about. A life well lived and "He did it his way!."
Candle lit by Ashley-Anne (Deuce) Hobbins I only met Chuck once or twice when I was younger, and the couple times that I did...he seemed like a great guy! He will be missed! My sincere condolences.
Candle lit by Ben "Jim" Hobbins To my dear Uncle Charlie, from you once little nephew Jimmy who associated with all those thinking things, observations and doings... hugs to eternity and back my uncle. Ben "Jim" Hobbins (2nd son of Annie Forsberg (2nd Stuart), Charlie's big sister :)
Candle lit by McInnis family
Candle lit by Shannon and Meredith White Wonderful obituary for a complicated but complete man.
Candle lit by Staff at Crown Memorial Center Our sincere condolences.
Candle lit by Glenn Jarvis You will be missed, but never forgotten.
Candle lit by Justin Lipman Thanks for the gift of Y/Z-modem! Spent my early/late teens using it all the time. Made BBS'ing a fantastic adventure... World has lost a great contributor and nice guy!
Candle lit by Thomas Müller Fidonet wouldn't have been what it was without him. And fidonet pretty much shaped my life and career.
Candle lit by Nasos Rest in peace, thank you for your contribution in the world of data communications.
Candle lit by Clayton Because of him I made many new friends and was always able to make contact with home even when I was overseas. He will be missed
Candle lit by Brett Thanks for everything you contributed to technology and humanity Charles. Keep riding those waves.
Candle lit by mro/bbses dot info A great guy. Most intelligent man i've ever talked to. Thank you for all your hard work and education, chuck.
Candle lit by James Willing I knew Chuck for a number of years through the BBS years and beyond. Many a swap meet and more than a few projects. Pretty much a geek's geek. (in all of the good ways) A lot of good memories from the association. He will be missed.
Candle lit by Tim To this day I still will use Zmodem on lossy connections to transfer files. Z and Ymodem were a big part of my youth and helped my subsequent career a great deal.
Candle lit by Stephen Jones @ SDF In 2001 I received an email from Chuck concerning the unlicensed use of his XYZ Modem software on a public access UNIX system. I believe his corporate license fee at the time was fairly expensive for us but after an explanation of what our user base was, he agreed to an EDU license which we happily paid for. Afterward he sent a follow email thanking us for the support that most sites using his software in a edu/commercial setting would ignore his messages. Thank you chuck for decades of X, Y and Z modem at sdf.org
Candle lit by John Foust I've used Pro-Yam for decades now. A wonderful program! Please keep in mind that the computer archivist and computer collector communities would be glad to help you archive and preserve Chuck's digital history. Contact us!
Candle lit by Caturday Everyday Meow Meow meow. mew... (=^‥^=)
Candle lit by Fredrik Drugge I never met this man, but I made good use of the Z-modem protocol and it always proved to be the best protocol out there. I am really sad to hear that he has left this world.
Candle lit by Andrew Morton I didn't know him, but I spent many years in my early teens downloading files from BBSes using ZModem. He sounds like an amazing guy.
Candle lit by Sean Vaandering Z-modem for the win. Never knew the man personally, but have been in the BBS scene since the 80's and have seen thousands of people download and upload from my various BBSes using that protocol. RIP.
Candle lit by Rob Swindell I purchased Chuck's DSZ (DOS Send ZMODEM) program from Omen Technology back in the 1980's and later used his GSZ and FDSZ programs (for my own BBS), and later his C source code and technical specifications to help write my own implementations of X/Y/ZMODEM. Chuck had a significant impact on the online communities of the 80s and 90s and ZMODEM is still widely used by inter-connected computer systems to this day.
Candle lit by Jeff Friend of Brisbane Australia I still use ZModem and YModem to this day on my DOSBox. While I never knew the man, I bow to his success and life. R.I.P.
Candle lit by tdrake
Candle lit by a fan thank-you
Candle lit by Michael Rong
Candle lit by Paul Frank Covello I once exchanged a few E-Mails with Chuck when I ran a BBS in Chicago during the 80's. Like others who commented here, I was a great fan of the ZModem protocol (and YModem / YModem-G Batch). Yes, he was a Geek's Geek and he will be missed! Thank you, Chuck for all of your wonderful contributions to Computer Science!
Candle lit by Daniel from Sweden In my teens, I used Chuck's Ymodem and Zmodem daily for many years. Chuck's work made my life better in many ways and reading his bio, I wish I had knew him personally. How we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life, wouldn't you say?
Candle lit by Steve Fantastic tribute. I never knew the man but I used YModem and ZModem as a pre-teen on BBSes. The resume features seemed like magic to me, and the experience of choosing these protocols each time I downloaded something is forever etched on my brain. Here's to a life well-lived by the sound of it.
Candle lit by Jitendra :
Candle lit by haosdent
Candle lit by Okarin Rip Chucky...Zmodem was quite something . Synchronet would not have been possible without you...
Candle lit by Tim Toner Thank you Chuck for your wonderful contributions. I enjoyed using Zmodem on Apple II for many years. Cheers to you and the life you made.
Candle lit by RS from India Thanks for ZModem!
Candle lit by Mike Fisher Here's to a life well lived. Thanks for sharing your gifts with the world.
Candle lit by Ioannis Mavroukakis I fondly recall my first foray into BBS's and the delight in ditching other transfer encodings when I discovered ZModem. I never knew your name before this,and it's such a shame, but you have my heartfelt thanks for all your contributions.
Candle lit by Philip Hofstetter Chuck helped us as a consultant in a very tricky situation with USB2Serial adaptors when the time was running out. It was amazing working with him and I still remember how great it felt to see our problem finally go away thanks to his help.
Candle lit by Eris Discordia Started an era. Lived to see his work bloom.
Candle lit by Pete Lee Chuck: thank you for everything you did to preserve family harmony with Zmodem: you were a giant among men! ("Moooooooom, I was in the middle of downloading a file!!!!")
Candle lit by somercet Y and ZMODEM were amazing pieces of software and, as you noted above, they had the highest quality any software can possess: they were bulletproof.
Candle lit by Mike
Candle lit by Joe H Thank you!
Candle lit by Sam Gordon Thanks for making my youth feel * a lot * faster (zmodem)
Candle lit by Stéphane From a former Zmodem user, and today a proud Tek 4014 owner. Paris, France.
Candle lit by Richard Crislip Rest in Peace
Candle lit by Jugger Chuck, may you enjoy your journey on the next part, and top the one you had during this life. Like the most of us, I have not met you but I dare to say that you made a difference! Thank you
Candle lit by A Gunn Had the honor of meeting him years ago. One of the industry's true giants. May his memory be for a blessing.
Candle lit by Frank Never knew him, but after reading the obit wish I had. Found a link on an antique computer forum I frequent. His file transfer protocols helped all us computer guys back in the day -- as important then as the Internet is today!
Candle lit by Tom Rauschenbach
Candle lit by Ken Flanagan Wonderful story of his life. I used zmodem quite a bit back in the day.
Candle lit by ByteBrothers - Wichita,Kansas and around the World Jimmy and the gang have the network all set up. Let's get to work! Rest In Peace, Brother...
Candle lit by J. Choi
Candle lit by carbon_based_lifeform Thanks, Dude! Great job! Come back soon - we need you...
Candle lit by Barry Nelson I also never met Chuck, but I am certainly familiar with his contributions to computer communications. His Z modem protocol was the staple of computer file transfers for many years. I have written several programs using his algorithms and routines.
Candle lit by J.G Zmodem is a great tool, It's part of my everyday work. Thank you for your contribute to human.
Candle lit by David Gettle Unfortunately I have never met Chuck, but as soon as I saw his name I knew the contributions he made to the computer industry specifically X, Y, and Z modem. I know he will be missed.
Candle lit by Corey Bryant I grew up using Chuck's YModem and ZModem technology, and he is one of many who inspired me to take up programming, and computer science. All of which led me to a wonderful career. Thank you Chuck, for all of your contributions, and all of the late night help you provided to us younger geeks trying to figure things out. God Bless.
Candle lit by J. Claussen From Silicon Valley - Your direct contributions to C.S. propelled a many people into the careers they have today. Thank you for being the brilliant person who helped inspire others in C.S.. You will be missed sir.
Candle lit by Enrico Demarin Thanks for your contribution to technology Charlie, may the light you shed shine forever.
Candle lit by Hugo Pragt Final Control-x received, DTR dropped. Rest in peace mr. Forsberg. I am grateful from ZMODEM setting me on my way to my current career
Candle lit by Daiyu Hurst I can add nothing to what others have said, except to say my world was a better place for your having been in it. Thank you.
Candle lit by David one of our own. to the inventors.
Candle lit by voor Thank you, Chuck, for the gift of Ymodem and Zmodem. Back in the day, DSZ, GSZ and rz/sz made my BBS and university days much easier, and the contest of Leech Zmodem vs SlugBait was always fun to participate in. Godspeed.
Candle lit by Richard Wood We never met, but as a graduate of Western Military Academy, I loved his stories about, Radio Free Moscow, the Western radio station. He also provided a beautiful page, on his Omen Technology site, for Western. Thank you Chuck, we really enjoyed you and your work!!
Candle lit by Surak Thanks for the great software, Chuck.
Candle lit by Brian Pence I never met Chuck, but I know his work. I was a teen in the 80s with a Commodore 64 during the BBS days. Transferring files was always a hassle until ZModem came along and there hasn't really been anything better since. Those early experiences led me to a degree in computer engineering. After graduation, I started a company that produces terminal emulation software and licensed the x/y/zmodem source code from Omen and still enhance and maintain it to this day. Working on the zmodem code today, I though I'd check up on Chucks website. That's when I read the news of his death last year. What a loss. I've felt a lot of inspiration from Chuck over the years. A motivation to work independently, to code what I wanted to code and oddly, a deep desire to live in a shack in the hills.
Candle lit by Bas Your zmodem code I studied in the beginning of my life as a programmer was incomprehensible. But it solved a complex problem. I will never forget your name and code.
Candle lit by wkitty42 i'll let the candle light speak for itself...
Candle lit by Robert If only there was a candle representing an atomic bomb mushroom cloud! I will never forget reading the instruction manual for Chuck's indispensable Pro-Yam software, and coming to the following instruction: "Do not write on the distribution diskette unless a nuclear attack is in progress." There were other similar hilarities sprinkled throughout the documentation, some more subtle than others, and I enjoyed every one. Thank you, Mr. Forsberg.
Candle lit by CaptCDD I met Chuck at Comdex in 1994. His house boat lab and love of flying provided common discussion for us. I was fascinated with his modem protocol, Zmodem. You were one of a kind sir. I feel honored to have met you...
Candle lit by Bill Stutz Never met him but was involved w/his software. I hadn't realized that he had died. Will miss him not being on the air.
Candle lit by charlie wonderlin correction, the radio station was 1959 our second year. Some high school stdents used Dos for Dummies to hack into the Norad missile system and the military went crazy. The feds got real upset with this. Chuck told me all about this. we were super close. He spent each Sat. afternoon at the radio store in upper Alton. Charlie Wonderlin
Candle lit by Charlie Wonderlin The radio station started in my dorm room at C Baaricks WMA i 1963 with my Halifax shortwave changed to transmit. He wrote DOS for Dummies with a black and yellow cover. The first Dummies book. He told me at WMA 10th reunion he would have traded me my WMA MTO award for his Valevictorian. firstname.lastname@example.org
Candle lit by Mark RIP Chuck. I had the privilege of knowing you and working with Pro Yam back in the 90's. A great product that made my life a lot easier. I'll always treasure my trips out to your houseboat. I could spend hours listening to your stories!
Candle lit by hermann luft with sadness today, memories of old days
Candle lit by Dake It was a time...
Candle lit by tom jennings I only met Chuck a few times face to face, he was shy and I was a loudmouth so we didn't talk much, but I great admired him and his work. He made FidoNet fast! His zmodem.c code was pure state machine, fast and clean. if there is a Nobel type prize for High Nerd, Chuck would be on an extremely short, exalted list.
Candle lit by Wildcat Thank you for ZMODEM!
Candle lit by AntwanEcormLG Hello. And Bye.