John McAfee, 1945-2021

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John McAfee, the legendary software pioneer turned eccentric outlaw turned cryptocurrency kingpin, died of an apparent suicide at 75, just hours after learning that he would be extradited to the United States from Spain.

McAfee earned his millions from the eponymous McAfee virus protection software, a staple of personal computing for decades, but he earned his fame in later years, making regular transmissions from an outlaw lifestyle in Central America and then Europe, appearing in videos with scantily clad models, promoting recreational drug use, and, perhaps now most notably, predicting his death at the hands of law enforcement.

McAfee was not always the eccentric character who appeared in his Twitter videos. He started his career in 1969 working for the Apollo program. Over the course of the next several years, he transitioned to early computing company Univac, then to Xerox, and eventually to Lockheed, where he was introduced to the world’s first computer virus — a meeting that would go on to define McAfee’s life.

Fascinated by the way the virus, then known as “Brain,” ate through a PC, McAfee decided to open up a front in his own “space race,” designing the antivirus software that, at one point, drove his personal fortune to nearly $100 million and made him a cybersecurity pioneer.

According to Business Insider, at one point, “half of all Fortune 100 companies were using his software.”

He eventually resigned from his own corporation in 1994, and years later, he told a Chinese newspaper that he gave up his position not because he felt he could no longer contribute but because it was “no longer fun” once the company grew into a software behemoth.

He also grew to hate being associated with his software, and upon his decision to sell the corporation to Intel, he said, “I am now everlastingly grateful to Intel for freeing me from this terrible association with the worst software on the planet.”

It was only after he left the world of software that McAfee truly became the man most denizens of social media now recognize. His $100 million fortune shortly became a $4 million fortune after a series of financial and investment disasters, and he traded his life as an American tech tycoon for a reclusive life in Belize after becoming the prime suspect in the shooting death of a neighbor.

While on the lam, McAfee began sending regular updates about his life, first as dispatches to Wired magazine and then directly to Twitter, as he moved from Central American nation to Central American nation, never quite acknowledging that he was being pursued by a string of law enforcement agencies. As far as McAfee’s audience knew, he was living the glamorous life, though he did occasionally let the heavily edited, and, in later years, surgically altered, mask slip, once telling a reporter how he buried himself in the sand using only his hands and a cardboard box in order to avoid capture.

In 2016, he promised to make his commitment to “fun” a national motto and ran for president on the Libertarian ticket, coming in a distant third in the party’s primary. Undeterred, he shifted to cryptocurrency, becoming an early adopter and, allegedly, a crypto kingpin. At the time of his death, the U.S. government was pursuing McAfee for tax evasion and had just convinced a Spanish judge to turn him over to authorities, an action McAfee pledged he would never let happen.

His attorney may have wrapped up McAfee’s intensely colorful life perfectly when he commented that McAfee exited his life the same way he exited his antivirus company.

“John lived his life the way he saw fit,” his lawyer said in a statement. “In the end that is all that matters. You don’t have to agree with his way — he did not care.”

Emily Zanotti is the director of editorial at the Daily Wire.

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Tags: Obituaries, Technology, Cybersecurity, Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency, Taxes

Original Author: Emily Zanotti

Original Location: John McAfee, 1945-2021

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