The GIS community is experiencing profound sadness today as it learns of the death of Roger Tomlinson. Roger Tomlinson was a central figure in the development of GIS. Tomlinson passed away in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico on February 9, 2014.
Tomlinson was a pioneer in the field of geographic information systems. He was widely credited with having developed the first GIS with the creation of the Canada Land Inventory (CLI) in 1962.
Born in England in 1933, Roger Tomlinson made his name in the field of GIS in Canada having moved there in 1953. His early work in GIS paved the way for the increasingly widespread use of mapping and geospatial technologies in government agencies. Tomlison stated in an interview about those beginnings:
“The early days of GIS were very lonely. No-one knew what it meant. My work has certainly been missionary work of the hardest kind.”
Tomlinson was the recipient of numerous prestigious awards for his contributions to the GIS field. He was awarded the American Associations of Geographer’s James R. Anderson Medal of Honor for Applied Geography in 1995 and the Robert T. Aangeenbrug Distinguished Career Award in 2005. In 1997, he was awarded Esri’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2010, Tomlinson and Jack Dangermond were the joint recipients of the National Geographic Bell Medal. Tomlinson was the author of such works as Thinking About GIS: Geographic Information System Planning for Managers.
Not much information is available about Roger Tomlinson’s passing at the moment. His wiki page has already been updated to reflect his death. The Twitterverse is only now starting to become aware of his passing, triggered by a tweet from Michael Gould, who was notified of his death by Esri founder, Jack Dangermond. Gould tweeted: “Yes, it’s true. It’s a very sad day for the GI community, that Roger Tomlinson, father of GIS, has died. (over the weekend).”