RIP Andre Hedrick: The engineer who kept the PC open

What Andre knew, and what outraged digital rights campaigners didn't understand, was that the rejection of CPRM as an official industry technical standard would result in the worst possible outcome for users and software authors. Most of the commands obeyed by the world's hard drives were not part of any standard, and were proprietary to the disk vendors - the very same disk vendors who had agreed to advance CPRM.

Rogue applications could bypass the operating system and turn CPRM back on. Andre's alternative proposal involved supplying a PIN so the PC owner could prevent the content protection from being activated in their machine.

This would allow new generations of closed playback devices to be built using off-the-shelf ATA disks while handing control of the open PC to the user.

"Control over a technology is more important than it existing," he told me. "If you know it's there, you're empowered."

The counter proposals and arguments Andre made ensured that CPRM was not implemented through the backdoor, and was used in closed devices and removable media without compromising the user's control of the PC.

I'm sorry to say I hadn't heard of Andrew until now, but I'm incredibly grateful for his legacy.