Lawyer von Gravenreuth commits suicide…

Just got the news that G√ľnter Freiherr von Gravenreuth commited suicide last night. Non-German readers may not know him, so allow me to quickly give a breakdown why he was an important figure in the German computer "scene".

During the 1980s, he put up advertisements in newspapers, posing as 15 year old Tanja Nolte-Berndel and asking to "share" software, only to sue responders for breach of copyright laws. In later years, he was active in some controversial lawsuits regarding brand copyrights for brands like "Explorer" (suing Microsoft and some newspapers for using the brand, even though to this day it's not entirely clear if the claim was ever valid, the German patent office even deleted the entry for Explorer). Recently, he was found guilty of Fraud and sentenced to 14 months jail, which were supposed to start this month.

Needless to say, he was not a very popular figure, and that is as nice as I can say it.

But still, he made a name for himself and to this day, "Tanja" and "Gravenreuth" remain an insider under C-64 (and other 80's computer) users. It is part of computer history in Germany now, so when I heard the news, my first thought was "Whoa". It's weird seeing something or someone who just seemed to be always there go away. Maybe it's just a sign that I'm getting old (even though I'm only 26), maybe it's just a sign that the 1980s and my childhood are really over.

While I can't say that I'm crying, I'm also not cheering. I can't say much good about him, except that he was part of the culture I grew up in and as such made an impact, and so there is a certain emptiness now. That and suicide is always a horrible way to make things end.

Goodbye, 1980's.