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Paul Bingman, WEB GURU


Photo of Paul Bingman

Paul Bingman

On April 3, 2011, Where Books Begin lost its web guru, Paul Bingman, just five weeks after he discovered he had stage four pancreatic cancer.

Paul was a man of many loves, many trades and many puns. Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, he was fascinated by the development of communication and transportation in American culture. He found inspiration in movies, people, books, and writing. PDXflaneur became Paul's nickname with his legendary strolls through town. "You see so much from walking at ground level that you never see while driving or riding the bus. Yards, buildings, people - it's all better at the natural human speed of travel." When he invariably happened upon one or more of his many friends, he would engage and enchant them with his expansive knowledge of Portland.

"All the interesting stuff happens at the edges-where one world rubs up against and cross-pollinates another," he had said in an article he wrote for Portland on Fire. "That's always been true of port cities, and it's definitely true of Portland. This city is one giant convoluted edge, so many worlds to mix and mash up, so many ways to be interesting. Film, books, theatre, tech, art, music, religion, politics, the environment, transportation, living and livability-it all rubs together, throwing off sparks as it fuses and melds and reflows again."

Paul studied physics at Oregon State University and Portland State before his first job assembling bikes near the used bookstore Walter Powell had recently opened. In the 1970s Paul worked as a telegrapher on the Burlington Northern railroad that traveled through the Pacific Northwest. As a dispatcher, he had his first experience with the Burlington's vast computer network, sending wires to other railroads. Fascinated, he built his first computer from a kit.

"It had 16K of RAM and ran at a blinding 4 MHz. I taught myself programming: first BASIC, then assembler, and C. "

Paul's love of the railroad remained (especially for his beloved Milwaukee line), but his passion for computer programming became his focal point. He worked for several years at Control-C Software as a support and marketing tech before becoming lead programmer and manager. In 1988 he left to form Northwest Software Partners with three other business partners; they built custom device drivers for a variety of U.S. and international clients. In 1993, Paul moved on and created his own company, Edgewood.net.

Photo of Paul Bingman with phone

Paul explored the great mysteries of life.

"Over the years I've done a wide variety of custom programming and forensic software work. I once manipulated an HP logic analyzer into collecting data over the Internet. The programming work became more Internet and database-focused, the programming languages much more web-friendly." More recently, Paul specialized in back- end website programming for a variety of small clients and creative studios, helping them to develop interactive, dynamic, interesting and fun websites. A well-known hacker about town, he was a familiar presence at web-related conferences and camps, networking with those who shared his love of computers and communication.

In the summer of 2007, Paul yet again launched a new business that incorporated his passion for trains and his passion for film. As a fixture of the Portland International Film Festival and the Northwest Film and Video Festival, he helped judge student film entries and estimated he saw 200 to 300 films a year. So he became a railroad movie consultant. "I've seen railroads done so poorly in some films- they get so much wrong like equipment and language and operating procedures, and leave out other things that would make the story more interesting or give the scene much more character."

Among his favorite things, Paul listed, "The old part of town, any town. Good beer. Stories. Pipe organs. The green ray. Bruno Ganz. The night sky. Django Reinhardt. Tableaux vivants. Dirigibles. Rumi and Rilke. Pie. Kiarostami, Kurosawa, Kaurismaki. People who are good to each other."

We will miss him.




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