Home opinion-and-analysis Fuzzy Logic RIP, John Linton, a great Internet and anti-NBN-wastage crusader

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It was with considerable sadness that the Australian tech and Internet world learned of Exetel CEO John Linton's passing due to a stroke, while also taking away one of the NBN's fiercest critics.

Outspoken NBN critic and Exetel CEO, John Linton, has sadly passed away due to a stroke.

Mr Linton's blog delivered the sad news via his son, James Linton, as did a Tweet from the ExetelExec account.

According to James Linton, John was enjoying lunch at a restaurant while 'talking about the state of the telecommunications market in Australia'.

Although John Linton was talking after the stroke, which initially appeared mild, things grew worse at St. Vincents Hospital where Mr Linton had to be placed onto a ventilator and under an induced coma.

Sadly, Mr Linton did not recover, with his family choosing to turn off the ventilator, and with Mr Linton passing away peacefully 'a few hours later', according to his son James.  

James Linton posted that: 'This is the saddest day of my life, I have lost my dad, my mentor, my boss, and one of my best friends.

'However, Dad would not want us fussing over him, he would want to know what we have sold, which was actually one of the last things I said to him.

'He would also want Exetel to go on as he had planned for it to. He put in a place a strategic plan, so we need to move on as he had wanted us to, and remember him for the great man he was.'

Exetel executive Steve Waddington posted on his blog a heartfelt farewell.

He stated that: 'I have worked with John for the last 16 years, at four different companies, and been his business partner for the last eight years.

'We started Exetel with the objective of creating a 'perfect company'. We faced many challenges, some that would have undoubtedly overwhelmed anyone with less indomitable determination than John.

'He was the toughest person I think I will ever meet. The most honest person I have ever met, and one of the kindest. But above all he was unique, with the clarity of vision and sharpness of mind that was simply awesome.

'He has been my manager, my mentor and my friend.

'Farewell John', concluded Mr Waddington.

Fellow iTWire contributor, and IBM retiree, Tony Austin, well remembers working with Mr Linton in Melbourne during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

"John was a marketing manager in the IBM Metro Branch, responsible for a sales team selling IBM small systems and peripherals, such as the IBM System/32 which was essenatially a small one-person machine. At that time, I was a systems engineer supporting these products.

"His approach was always a fiercely pragmatic one, focussed intensely on selling the current product range against competition, with a 'take no prosoners' attitude.

"As an example of this pragmatism, Tony recalls one meeting where Mr Linton clearly extolled the selling point of the System/32 despite the fact that key competitors were outwardly superior offering multi-terminal computers against it.

"It was fascinating watching him at work, making point after point in gavour of the System/32 and rubbishing the failings and problems of multi-terminal systems. You ended up believing his sales pitch, despite as a technical person still thinking that the competitive systems were technologically superior!

"A few years later IBM introduced the System/34, and Linton's pitch changed 180 degrees almost overnight. He now persuaded one an all that you'd have to have rocks in your head to want to buy any technology but the multi-terminal S/34.

"I lost touch with John after that, but he certainly seems to have continued in the same winner takes all vein', Tony concluded.

Farewell John Linton - may the force be with Exetel, may your hard work and strategy pay great dividends into the future, may the NBN's proponents have learned something from your strident and, in this humble writer's opinion - extremely valid and very telling NBN criticisms - and may you rest in peace.


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

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One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks, including stints as presenter of Ch 10’s Internet Bright Ideas, Ch 7’s Room for Improvement and tech expert on Ch 9’s Today Show, among many other news and current affairs programs.

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