Sol Katz Award 2005MUM3Program

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The Sol Katz Award for Geospatial Free and Open Source Software (GFOSS) will be given annually to individuals who have demonstrated leadership in the GFOSS community. Recipients of the award will have contributed significantly through their activities to advance open source ideals in the geospatial realm. The hope is that the award will both acknowledge the work of community members, and pay tribute to one of its founders, for years to come.

Solomon Stuart Katz aka Sol 1947-1999


Sol Katz was born in Sweden and moved to NY at the age of 1. Yiddish was his first language, but he was amazingly bright, and learned both Hebrew and English quickly. After high school, he spent three years in the US Air Force, stationed in Germany, where he picked up yet another language. Following his brief military career, he decided to go to Brooklyn College in NY where he got his Bachelors in Geology in 2.5 years. He then married his wife Hedy in 1969, and went back to Brooklyn College while teaching in NY Public Schools and got his MA, also in Geology. After several years working for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in several states, he settled down in Lakewood, CO and decided to go back to school at the University of Denver in Computer Science and earned a second masters. At this time, he also had two children - Shanna and Risa. He was well loved in his office, at his children's school, and at home. Always full of laughter and good humor, Sol could easily be recognized by his flamboyant Hawaiian shirts and toucan or propeller hats. Sadly, after fighting Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma for almost a decade, Sol died April 23, 1999 in bed.

Open Source

Sol Katz was an early pioneer of GFOSS and left behind a large body of work in the form of applications, format specifications, and utilities. In the early 80's, Sol assisted in the development of a public domain GIS package called MOSS (Map Overlay and Statistical System). This software was arguably the first open source GIS software in the world. Sol would later go on to release and maintain PC MOSS. He was also one of the first involved in public data translator utilities. Utilities that he developed for converting DEMs and reading SDTS files were contributed back to the geospatial community, and are still available today. Sol was also a frequent contributor to many geospatial list servers, providing much guidance to the geospatial community at large. Sol Katz's informative Web site at the BLM is still available at His legacy still lives on in the GFOSS world.