James Martin, British philanthropist and technology guru, dies at 79

James Martin, a British philanthropist and technology guru who was once the highest-selling author on books about computing, died near his private island in Bermuda. He was 79.

Authorities in the British territory said June 27 that Dr. Martin’s body was found by a kayaker in waters near his home on Agar’s Island. The police have said they do not believe a crime is involved. An autopsy was pending.

Dr. Martin was the largest single private donor in the centuries-long history of the University of Oxford. He donated more than $150 million to help establish the Oxford Martin School, where researchers study global challenges and opportunities facing humanity in the 21st century. Project topics range from climate change to quantum physics to the future of food.

Dr. Martin also was a Pulitzer Prize nominee for a 1977 technology book, “The Wired Society,” which Oxford University said contained descriptions about the use of computers and the Internet that were still timely a quar­ter-century later. The university also noted that Dr. Martin was ranked fourth in the Computer World 25th anniversary edition’s most influential people in computer technology. He was also credited with helping automate software development.

“You rarely meet someone who’s such an incredible philanthropist whose sole interest is doing good at the highest level,” said Anthony Knap, director of the Geochemical and Environmental Research Group at Texas A&M University.

Dr. Martin traveled around the world to give lectures, and he was an honorary life fellow of the British Royal Institution and a fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science.

He wrote more than 100 textbooks. His published works included “The Meaning of the 21st Century,” which was made into a film narrated by actor Michael Douglas. The book analyzes technological, political, ethical, social and environmental issues of modern times.

Ian Goldin, director of the Oxford Martin School, said in an e-mail to the Associated Press that Dr. Martin had a passion for changing the world for the better and described his intellect as extraordinary and wide-ranging.

— Associated Press

 
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