Chainsaw Artist Steve Backus Died in a December Fire
Steve Backus, an artist known for his chainsaw art, suffered an irreparable loss when his wooded hideaway caught fire last December. Though his home and studio escaped intact, much of Steve’s artwork perished irretrievably.
Backus worked on the function-level programming language FP and later introduced the Backus-Naur form for context-free specifications that led to automatic compilers. He also helped develop ALGOL 58.
Early Life and Education
Backus was born in Cloquet, Minnesota to Gus and Carol Backus and attended Nauset Regional High School before earning his BA degree from Occidental College with honors in Math.
Backus led an IBM team in 1954 that created and popularized the first widely used programming language: Fortran. This revolutionized programming from being an automated process into something humans could understand, creating the basis of what would eventually become modern software development.
J.A.N. Lee, a computer historian, credits Fortran with helping open the way for modern computers. Additionally, Fortran served as an early precursor of more high-level programming languages such as ALGOL and UNIX; Backus participated on UNESCO committees publishing both of them while contributing to developing the Backus-Naur form for describing context-free programs.
Backus struggled in his initial two seasons as a professional football player, going 7-8 with only one win to show for it. But once his form returned in 1966, he started winning more often and established an amazing seven-win streak!
He co-founded US Order, an early electronic banking company. Additionally, he served as founding CEO of Draper Atlantic – a venture capital firm known for notable exits such as DivX (IPO) and Mobile365 (sold to Sybase).
He writes a column for Arizona CattleLog and facilitates day-long workshops for ranchers. His work has been featured in multiple publications, and he lectures nationally on modern cattle ranching techniques.
Achievement and Honors
As a youngster, Backus set multiple track and field records. Additionally, he participated on Michigan’s varsity football team and earned All-Big Ten first team honors as a freshman – becoming one of only two Wolverines — the other being Mark Messner — to ever earn this recognition all four years.
Backus was an innovator of 3D seismic imaging technology and as such earned high honors from both SEG (Maurice Ewing Medal in 1990) and EAGE (Conrad Schlumberger Award in 1975). Additionally he was honored to become an SEG Honorary Member in 1988.
Steve Backus has earned numerous professional honors and awards throughout his career. In 1979-1980 he received the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) presidential award for his groundbreaking research on water reverberations that marked an advancement in seismic data interpretation.
He played left tackle for 12 seasons with the Detroit Lions, protecting quarterback Robert Griffin III’s blind side. Additionally, while at Tufts under legendary coach Ding Dussault he set school records in both shot put and hammer throw.
Summer evenings on Whidbey Island could find him creating chainsaw sculptures of bears and gnomes made out of chainsaw wood. Recently devastated by a studio fire, but back to work creating new works. Survived by his wife Barbara Cairns as well as children Katharine Heldt (Plano); Colleen Hood (Houston); Marcia Priller of Frisco – as well as their spouse Kurt Priller who lives nearby.
Backus hails from Whidbey Island in Washington State and is an avid Hawks supporter. For the last 40 years, he has worked in the timber industry as an artist specialising in custom chainsaw carvings, regularly appearing on TV programs as an expert and winning awards for his works.
Backus currently possesses an estimated net worth of $7 Million dollars and his primary source of income comes from acting, directing and screenwriting work. Born 30-October-81 in Mission Viejo California he stands at 1.91 meters in height.
His investments include Occidental Petroleum Corp stock. Since 2003, he has made over 108 trades of OXY stock; on average one every 14 days. On 24 February 2020 he purchased 201,000 units worth over $1,565,790 in one transaction.