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Lyon, Matthew (McTee) 1956-2002

LYON, Matthew (McTee) 1956-2002


Born May 21, 1956, in Willimantic, CT; died of cardiac arrest February 16, 2002, in Seattle, WA; son of Richard Colton (a professor) and Denny McTee Lyon (a dancer and sculptor); married Katie Hafner (a journalist); children: Zoë. Education: Hampshire College, graduated 1980.


Journalist, speechwriter, and education administrator. Journalist with New York Times, New York, NY, Berkshire Eagle, Pittsfield, MA, and Texas Observer; on staff of Texas state Senator Lloyd Doggett, Austin, TX; speechwriter and deputy press secretary for Texas governor Mark W. White; national issues director for U.S. representative Richard Gephardt; Park Kinetic Designs, Inc., communications director; University of Texas-Austin, assistant to the president, 1993-99; University of California-Berkeley, assistant vice chancellor for public affairs, 1999-2002.


(With wife, Katie Hafner), Where Wizards Stay up Late: The Origins of the Internet, Simon and Schuster (New York, NY), 1996.


Matthew Lyon, who grew up in an academic environment, began his career as a journalist, then worked on the staffs of a number of politicians, and finally settled back into academia. When he died of a heart attack at the age of forty-five, he was vice chancellor for university relations with the University of California-Berkeley. In this position, he applied his keen interest and knowledge of technology in leading the team responsible for Berkeley's public relations.

Lyon's passion for technology led to his writing, with his wife, Katie Hafner, Where Wizards Stay up Late: The Origins of the Internet. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the book "excellent at enshrining little-known but crucial scientist/administrators like Bob Taylor, Larry Roberts, and Joseph Licklider, many of whom laid the groundwork for the computer science industry."

In a Science review, Philip Shiman said that Lyon and Hafner—who is also coauthor of Cyberpunk—"show great skill in teasing an interesting story out of a complex tale and in maintaining the narrative while explaining highly technical concepts. To help bring life to the subject, they throw in plenty of amusing anecdotes." Shiman further added that their book is "highly readable" and well researched.

The story reaches back to the Eisenhower administration, when the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was established as an information-sharing network. For twenty-five years—from 1962, in the age of huge, expensive main frames, to 1996—ARPA's Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) was responsible for the information technology programs within the agency. Lyon and Hafner cover such matters as ARPA's development of packet switching, considered to be one of its most significant achievements and which led to development of the Arpanet, an early networking system. They also explain the evolution of e-mail and message boards, and provide details about the individual people who stayed up late to develop the new technology. Stephen Manes noted in the New York Times Book Review that in the final pages, the authors "cover the many later developments in networking, as clever engineers figured out how to use everything from fiber-optic cables to satellites to link computers with one another."

In reviewing Where Wizards Stay up Late in Journal of the Association for History and Computing, Scott Merriman wrote that "Hafner and Lyon present a good, easily accessible story, which can be well mined for lecture nuggets and anecdotes. It offers the answers to many questions which have probably perplexed most Internet users from time to time, including where the '@' sign in e-mail addresses came from, and the original meaning of the word 'hack.'"

At the time of his death, Lyon was writing a book about strategic communications for Harvard Business School Press.



American Historical Review, December, 1998, Roy Rosenzweig, review of Where Wizards Stay up Late: The Origins of the Internet, p. 1530.

Business Week, September 16, 1996, Robert D. Hof, review of Where Wizards Stay up Late, p. 19.

IEEE Technology and Society, summer, 2000, Lee Goeller, review of Where Wizards Stay up Late, p. 6.

Isis, March, 1998, Paul N. Edwards, review of Where Wizards Stay up Late, p. 93.

Library Journal, July, 1996, Joe J. Accardi, review of Where Wizards Stay up Late, p. 144.

Los Angeles Times, August 20, 1996, David Colker, review of Where Wizards Stay up Late, p. E3.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, August 26, 1996, Daniel Akst, review of Where Wizards Stay up Late, p. D3.

New Scientist, August 24, 1996, Peter Collinson, review of Where Wizards Stay up Late, p. 42.

Newsweek, September 9, 1996, Malcolm Jones, Jr., review of Where Wizards Stay up Late, p.74

New York Times Book Review, August 21, 1996, Richard Bernstein, review of When Wizards Stay up Late, p. 2; September 8, 1996, Stephen Manes, review of Where Wizards Stay up Late, p. 19.

Publishers Weekly, July 15, 1996, review of Where Wizards Stay Up Late, p. 65.

Science, December 6, 1996, Philip Shiman, review of Where Wizards Stay up Late, p. 1627.


Journal of the Association for History and Computing Online, (November, 2000), Scott Merriman, review of Where Wizards Stay up Late.



New York Times, February 20, 2002, p. A21.


Berkeley Campus News Online, (February 17, 2002).*

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