Obituary - John Larmouth

Vale Professor John Larmouth, a pioneer of standardization in applied IT and communications

By Janice Blondeau

A gifted academic and tireless worker, John Larmouth passed away on 13 August 2012. His active involvement in international standardization started in 1978 and spanned 34 years.

John Larmouth (1941-2012)
John Larmouth (1941-2012)

Gifted and devoted to standardization

The world of standardization will sorely miss the vision, presence and dedication of John Larmouth. Born in 1941, John was a highly esteemed contributor to standardization in computing, communications and applied IT. After obtaining a doctorate in pure mathematics and computing from the University of Cambridge in 1967, John Larmouth joined Cambridge academic staff, in the early days of computing. In 1976 he became director of the Salford University computing laboratory, and in 1985 he was appointed head of Salford University ITI (Information Technology Institute). In parallel, John Larmouth worked tirelessly for the cause of international standardization. Upon his retirement as Professor Emeritus of Telematics, he continued to be highly productive through his standardization work and consulting.

Legacy of international computing standards

John Larmouth served as a Rapporteur in of the ITU-T Study Group 17 (Security) for 14 years and he had a key role in the successful development and implementation of the International Standard ASN.1 (Abstract Syntax Notation). He was also Rapporteur and Convenor of the joint work on ASN.1, Object Identifiers (OIDs) and associated registration in ITU-T SG 17 and JTC1/SC6. He wrote the definitive book on ASN.1 which is available online and in print. Ratified as a standard in 1984, ASN.1 underpins many areas of communications today, including mobile phones, airlines and secure web site connections. It supports the exchange of any form of information (audio, video and data) and is used in applications ranging from telecommunications to parcel tracking, power distribution, banking and biomedicine.

IEC, ITU and JTC1 contributions

In addition, John Larmouth was a major contributor to the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) model and SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language), which provided the foundation for the HTML, XHTML and XML languages. John Larmouth worked as the Editor of ITU-T Recommendations and ISO and IEC International Standards, including ITU-T X.1082, IEC 80000-14 and several standards in ISO/IEC JTC1/SC37: Biometrics.

In 2012, in recognition of his contributions to ISO/IEC JTC1, he received the IEC 1906 Award. John Larmouth will be remembered for being an outstanding scholar with brilliant academic brain who recognized early on the necessity and value of international standardization in computing and communications. He is survived by his wife Carol and twins Sarah-Jayne and James.

John Larmouth (1941-2012) John Larmouth (1941-2012)
John Larmouth actively served the international standards community for 34 years John Larmouth actively served the international standards community for 34 years
John as a young man John as a young man