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SIGCHI remembers John Karat

It is with great sadness that the SIGCHI Executive Committee marks the death of one of its leaders, John Karat.

It is with great sadness that the SIGCHI Executive Committee marks the death of one of its leaders, John Karat. John was a longtime member of the SIGCHI leadership, inspiring and supporting the community to take a world-wide view of HCI and its membership. This global view extended to his chairing the International Federation for Information Processing Technical Committee on HCI (IFIP TC13). In addition, he was North American editor for the journal Behaviour and Information Technology, and Editor-in-Chief of the Kluwer Academic Publishers series on HCI. He served on the ACM SIGCHI Executive Committee for decades and was actively involved in ACM CHI and DIS, and the IFIP INTERACT conferences in the HCI field.


When John was not meeting with HCI colleagues from around the world, he was a Research Staff Member at the IBM TJ Watson Research Center. John conducted HCI research on a variety of topics including privacy, personalization, and information management. Over his career with IBM Development (1982-1987) and Research (1987- 2010) he worked to create research-based guidelines and principles for user interface design (including chairing the committees for the development of ANSI 200 and ISO 9241 HCI standards), researched and advised on design collaboration (resulting in an early book on the integration of HCI and software engineering), researched and developed speech-based systems (including the design of IBM's first large-vocabulary desktop speech recognition system), early electronic medical record systems (for Kaiser Colorado Region and Barnes Hospital in St Louis) which identified many interaction aspects required for improved patient care through better records.


John was co-leader of the IBM Privacy Research Institute (2005-2008), established to advance the importance of privacy issues in IT globally. He also worked to advance industry/academia collaboration as project leader for an open collaborative research (OCR) initiative in privacy and security policy management with Carnegie Mellon, Purdue, and Imperial College (2006-2008).


To honor John's many contributions, he was awarded the ACM SIGCHI Lifetime Service Award and was named a Distinguished Scientist by ACM. In addition, John received multiple awards from IFIP and TC13 including the Silver Core Award, TC13 Pioneers Award, and the Brian Shackel Award. John's legacy will live on in the SIGCHI and IFIP Communities, as well as through the family he leaves behind: Zachary, age 16, and Clare-Marie Karat, also an active HCI researcher and leader in SIGCHI, the CHI conferences, and IBM.

John Karat in IBM ad


John Karat at SIGCHI Asia Workshop

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