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Marlene Mallicoat

1944 - 2015 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Marlene Mallicoat Obituary
Marlene June Mallicoat


Software designer and facilitator of imaginative projects, Marlene Mallicoat died on May 22, 2015, after a long illness. She is remembered for her brilliance, sweetness and elegance.

She is survived by her husband Theodor Holm Nelson, two loving brothers, and a stepson, nieces and nephews whom she adored.

She grew up in Oregon. Her mother, Maxine, was a fierce home-maker and contest-winner. Her father, Dale Mallicoat, is best remembered for representing Oregon's governor Tom McCall in Washington.

At the age of 12, Marlene won the blue ribbon for baking at the Oregon State Fair for her cupcakes (perfectly textured, with no "tunnels" of bubbles in the cake).

At the University of Oregon, she took many courses but ended up majoring in mathematics because she found it easiest. From there she went straight to IBM-- first in Palo Alto, then in New York (where she moonlighted as a Playboy bunny), then Germany, where she taught American soldiers how to use IBM's equipment.

Returning to San Francisco, she became an independent computer consultant for over two decades.

It was during this San Francisco period that Marlene did her most innovative work, creating radical new software in two areas. She designed and implemented two pioneering interactive systems-- "Suite Talk", probably the first system designed for use by hotel guests, and "Litany", probably the first litigation support system for law firms. Though both worked well, neither package reached the market because of management indecision.

Since 1992, Marlene has been the collaborator-- and later "wife-waft"-- of controversial computer visionary Ted Nelson, facilitating development of his Xanadu and ZigZag projects. The couple travelled among various universities, living in Japan and then England for roughly five years each. Meanwhile, they maintained a houseboat in Sausalito for the whole of their 23 years together.

She is warmly remembered in the academic communities of Japan and England, in the houseboat community of Sausalito, and by her sorority sisters from the University of Oregon.

Contributions in her memory may be made to the Internet Archive, at http://archive.org/donate/.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on May 31, 2015
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