It is with sorrow that we have been notified of the passing of Timothy C. May, a well known American electronic engineer and senior scientist at Intel during their early days. The news was announced over a Facebook post from a friend of his this past Saturday, December 15, 2018, and he was found to have died of natural causes. Tim May was made most famous for the 1988 essay The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto which is the foundation for Crypto-Anarchism which I wrote about before on Being Libertarian. He later expanded on the idea in the “Cyphernomicon,” a cypherpunk-themed FAQ which is now archived online for all to enjoy.
Tim May was an incredibly private person, May’s aversion to outside intrusions defined his philosophical outlook. “Leave me alone,” he wrote, is “at the root of libertarianism more so than formal theories about the nature of man.” He was very influential in Crypto-Anarchist thought which has created such endeavors such as Tor browser, VPN, Bitcoin, Wikileaks, PGP, Silk Road, and other cryptographically loved programs and protocols.
Tim May is also credited with having solved the “Alpha Particle Problem” plaguing memory chips from functioning appropriately and did really well at Intel during the early days. In fact, he had done so well that in 1986 he was able to cash in his stocks and never have to work again.
Tim May will be missed, as he definitely has made the world a better place, and I would place his works The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto and Crypto Anarchy and Virtual Communities up there with as being as important as Eric S. Raymond’s The Cathedral and the Bazaar into changing the way the IT world works. Cathedral and the Bazaar helped the market embrace Free, Libre, and Open Source Software, whereas the Crypto Anarchist Manifesto helped market and embrace security, anonymity, and transparency. We can definitely say he has been a major influence into how and why we design and implement our IT infrastructure the way we