Michael Timothy Jones
1960 - 2021
{ "" }
Share
Share Michael's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
Michael Timothy Jones
March 23, 1960 - January 18, 2021
Resident of Sunnyvale
Michael T. Jones, an influential computer-science pioneer who, among other achievements, was a creator of Google Earth, died at his home in Sunnyvale, CA on January 18th, 2021. He was 60 years old and had been undergoing cancer treatment at the City of Hope.

Michael was born in San Diego, California, and spent his early childhood there and in Vista and Fresno, as the son of Glenn and Dorothy Jones. When Michael was in junior high school, his family moved to Greensboro, North Carolina. He was so advanced in his aptitude and achievement that he began programming computers when he was in fourth grade, worked as a teaching assistant at North Carolina A&T University while in high school, and finished his formal education and launched his own high-tech business after one year at North Carolina State University. In 1980, in North Carolina, he married June Young, who survives him and with whom he recently celebrated his 40th wedding anniversary.

Through his 20s and early 30s Michael Jones founded or worked for a number of computer companies in North Carolina. In his early 30s he moved to California and was an engineer and manager for the innovative company Silicon Graphics. Before age 40, he was the chairman, CEO, and president of Intrinsic Graphics, from which he spun out a digital mapping company called Keyhole, whose maps were extensively used by CNN and other outlets in their reporting during the Iraq war. In 2004, Google acquired Keyhole, and its technology became what is now known as Google Earth. It was also the basis for the countless Google mapping tools used by more than a billion people worldwide every day.

At Google, Michael served first as Chief Technology Officer for Google's range of mapping products, and then as Chief Technology Advocate for the company as a whole. In that role he became well-known around the world for his leadership and advocacy in the many areas of his passionate expertise. These spanned a very broad range: from high-definition photography and boat design; to ocean mapping and conservation; to architecture, the social implications of technology, and a deep knowledge of history.

In June, 2020, Michael Jones was awarded the Patron's Medal, the highest honor of the Royal Geographical Society, in London. "Everyone is inventive," he said, in an interview on receiving the award. "You need only ignore limits and ask yourself 'how should it be?' "

"Inventors are just laborers toiling to make things be as we feel they should," he said. "For me, a key trait is passion for ideas, loving them as parents love children and grandchildren: embracing them, sacrificing for them, excusing the worst and believing the best of them, being patient and supportive with an enduring love as they mature. Like children, they take time to develop into the brightness of their promise. I have been this way all my life."

Michael's curiosity, intellect, and achievement were exceeded only by his generosity and capacity to love. His work has influenced billions of people who might never know his name but are touched every day by his ideas. He is mourned by all fortunate enough to have known him.


View the online memorial for Michael Timothy Jones

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on Jan. 24, 2021.
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by San Jose Mercury News
Not sure what to say?
View Printed Guest Book
10 entries
February 23, 2021
More and more I realize how lucky I was to know him, spend time with him and to have the most interesting discussions ever with anyone. Gone at 60.....What a loss for all that did not happen yet. He will be busy now to map Heaven and the locations from all who is there. This wil become the biggest success ever. Michael, thank you so much for being my friend.
Cees Marks
Friend
February 7, 2021
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
Reginald Martin
Friend
February 7, 2021
Michael was one in a million. He was my next door neighbor in the 1970s in Greensboro NC. Clearly he was ahead of the curve in his tech savvy and many other respects, but his wry sarcastic sense of humor () which often left me in stitches) was what endeared him most to those of us who grew up with him. My thoughts are with his widow June ( whom I met when they'd just started dating in Raleigh, NC) RIP old friend. You leave this world a much richer place than you came into.
Raymond Tucker
Neighbor
February 5, 2021
Michael was one of those most rare people who super achieved, literally changed the world and unselfishly helped others achieve. He did this with kindness, good humor and a voracious but non-intimidating intellect. I was very fortunate to count him as a friend. He was, in fact, the very definition of "gentleman". Perhaps the most famous poem by Rudyard Kipling (probably the most famous poem period) is titled, "If". Michael came as close to Kipling's ideal described in the poem than anyone I ever knew. This was indeed, "A Man" and I was blessed to have "walked" with him for awhile. The achiever has passed. The kindness and friendship never will. This Man left a mark on our world that went far, far beyond software. God will have other work for a spirit so capable.
Larry Martin
Friend
January 30, 2021
I am so sorry to hear of Tim's passing. He was a brilliant guy and a very sweet cousin. Ill never forget the times he visited us in St.LOUis when he was young. We are very proud of him. A trailblazer!!
Joni Townsend
Family
January 30, 2021
I was more astonished by the Keyhole/Earth technology than just about any other invention I have seen come out of the software business. I didn't know him, but I was an admirer.
Dennis Doubleday
January 28, 2021
Known as Tim in our family. Has been a long time since we have seen Tim but kept up with all of his achievements. Extremely proud and his presence will be missed.
Ted, Jane and Jeremy Hurt
Family
January 28, 2021
I had only met Michael a few times although my wife's cleaning service was there many times. She would tell me that Michael was a very kind man full of passion. It always speaks volumes when people show kindness to those who could never help them in any way. He was that rare type of person. Showing the love of God to the least.
May God bless you and June for eternity.
Michael & Michelle
Friend
January 26, 2021
So Michael ,June,Adam and I went kite flying on I 440 before it opened to the public. Sitting in the trunk of his Satellite Sebring and driving up and down the road to get enough wind to fly the kite and having to stop before bridges and end of rhe pavement. So much fun and such a good friend.
Ken Stanley
Friend
January 25, 2021
Love this picture June. Michael will always be in our hearts and we will miss him so much. Sending you love and hugs,
Jill Thomas
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences