Jim Warren, Early Influencer in Personal Computing, Dies at 85

Jim C. Warren Jr. was born on July 20, 1936, in Oakland, Calif., the only child of Jim Sr. and Gladys Warren. The family soon moved to Texas, where his father, a pilot, flew military transport planes during World War II.

Mr. Warren grew up in San Antonio. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and education from Southwest Texas State University and later, supported by a National Science Foundation grant, a master’s degree in mathematics and statistics from the University of Texas.

But as he explained to John Markoff, a former reporter for The New York Times and the author of “What the Dormouse Said: How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry” (2005), he felt confined by the conservatism of Texas in the early 1960s and was looking for wider horizons. Then he picked up a copy of Look magazine with a cover story on California as “The Golden State.”

Mr. Warren drove to California, arriving in the Bay Area in the summer of 1964. Encountering the freewheeling culture there, he thought, “I’m home, I’m finally home,” he recalled.

He embraced the liberal politics of the region, marching in rallies to protest the war in Vietnam and supporting the Free Speech Movement, centered at the University of California at Berkeley. For two years he was general secretary of the Midpeninsula Free University, an outgrowth of that movement, which not only offered free courses in storefront locations and in homes but also sponsored Be-ins and organized antiwar demonstrations.

Not long after arriving in California, Mr. Warren got a job teaching mathematics at the College of Notre Dame, a Catholic women’s school in Belmont, Calif., and became chairman of its math department.

His personal life was increasingly uninhibited, as he sampled everything on the counterculture menu, including drugs, free love and nudism. Word spread of the large parties Mr. Warren hosted at his house in Woodside. A BBC film crew showed up to shoot footage for a documentary on the “Now” generation.

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