Founder of LexisNexis dies

It’s a sad day in policy and law today–H. Donald Wilson, the developer of LexisNexis, died of a heart attack in front of his computer. There’s some sort of irony in this.

From the Washington Post:

H. Donald Wilson, 82, under whose leadership the commercial database service LexisNexis introduced electronic research to law firms and news organizations, died of a heart attack Nov. 12 in front of his computer at his home in Mitchellville.

From 1969 to 1973, Mr. Wilson was the first president of Mead Data Central, which developed LexisNexis, a database of information for law firms, businesses, libraries and the news industry. More recently, he worked with a company striving to improve text-to-voice technology.

[…]At first, many lawyers refused to use the software, regarding computer work as a secretarial job. In order to spur adoption of the product, Mr. Wilson gave law students almost free access to electronic files of court decisions, so that when they graduated, the young associates at law firms immediately asked their employers: “Where’s your Lexis?”

[…]Recruited in 1964 as the Peace Corps’ director of its 700-person program in Ethiopia, he later joked he became known as “Icebox Henry” for taking away volunteers’ refrigerators to make them live as the locals did.

Two quotes from the Fark thread that made my day (may or may not make sense if you don’t use Lexis):

2006-11-25 12:52:02 PM chapman

His funeral was nice; you had the option to either pay by the minute to attend or by the number of parts of the service a la carte.


2006-11-25 12:57:30 PM JerseyTim

If only there were some way to archive this story.