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Take Control Author Charles Edge Dies

This one is way too close to home. News started to spread this morning on the MacAdmins Slack, Rich Trouton’s Der Flounder blog, and Tom Bridge’s site about how our friend and Take Control author Charles Edge died suddenly and unexpectedly on 19 April 2024. He was in his late 40s, and yes, his standard bio picture below gives you a feel for his sense of humor and irreverence.

Charles EdgeI met Charles at a MacTech event in New York in 2012, but I already knew that he had written a bunch of tech books and thousands of Krypted blog posts on sysadmin topics. We exchanged some email about the possibility of him writing a Take Control book then, but it wasn’t until early 2014 that we came up with the idea that turned into Take Control of OS X Server

Take Control of OS X Server cover

The amount of information in Charles’s head was astonishing, and when I was reading his drafts, I got the impression he was brain-dumping the entire thing, no research necessary. I’m sure that wasn’t entirely true, but Charles was a delight to work with, was highly responsive to queries, and was always appreciative of good editing. To share his content sooner and as one of our experiments in publishing, we streamed his entire book, chapter by chapter, for TidBITS members (see “‘Take Control of OS X Server’ Streaming in TidBITS,” 12 May 2014). In his memory, I’ve made those chapters available to everyone.

Charles was very much a Tigger, in the Winnie-the-Pooh sense, and tirelessly bounced from project to project. Toward the end of writing Take Control of OS X Server, he moved from being the Chief Technology Officer of the national Apple consultancy 318 to managing the development of Jamf Now at Jamf Software, where he stayed for several years before switching to more R&D-based roles. 

He left Jamf in 2020 and was most recently working on Secret Chest, a password manager aimed at quantum-proofing Apple’s Keychain. Now I wish I could ask him about the new Apple technology I wrote about in “New iMessage PQ3 Encryption Protocol Protects Against Post-Quantum Attacks” (23 February 2024). The Secret Chest blog is full of his posts, including one about steganography from the day he died and another providing excellent coverage of the past and future of password management. Charles was also the CTO of the venture capital firm, a board member of the Minnesota-based community tech organization Minnestar, and an active podcaster on the Mac Admins Podcast and The History of Computing Podcast.

The history of computing was especially near and dear to Charles’s heart. He had been working on a book about it for seven years, a project that had ballooned into four volumes and more than 2000 pages. His last Facebook post from a week ago was about how he had just signed the contracts. I hope the publisher he was working with remains interested in the manuscript since I’m sure Charles would want the editor to finish so it can see the light of day. I certainly want a copy to remember Charles by.

Charles Edge book references

Finally, although I was nowhere near as close with Charles as many other people in the Apple world, he always had time to talk, would help with any question if he could, and thoroughly enjoyed introducing you to other people if he couldn’t. He was kind, engaging, and always thinking of others, as you can see in this Facebook post below. His passing is a great loss for his many friends and colleagues, and for the Apple world as a whole.

Charles Edge Mac floppies

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Comments About Take Control Author Charles Edge Dies

Notable Replies

  1. This is terribly sad news. Every Take Control author has enriched our lives as readers. The balance you all strike between technical detail and everyday relevance is special. I feel like I’m getting a message from a friend when I see any of your bylines. Please accept my sympathy.

  2. Very sad, and so very young. Thoughts are with his friends and family.

  3. Wonderful tribute Adam. Clearly a generous man with a lot to give. There’s not enough published on the history of computing, looking forward to that, hopefully the publisher stays on track.

  4. Tonya found this screenshot from when we were editing Charles’s book—we loved the phrase “toxic hellstew” when applied to running your own mail server. We think of Charles whenever we use the term, and now so more than ever.

    Toxic Hellstew-1

  5. Charles was absolutely correct about email servers…yet, as a reader who was dumb enough to run one anyway, he was willing to answer my questions and provide me with invaluable assistance in my attempts to torture myself by so doing. From the server book and that little interaction, it was obvious that he was both funny and brilliant, and those that were close to him are going to miss him dearly.

  6. Oh my gosh, I just emailed him on Friday. :sob:

  7. Posted by Chip Person on LinkedIn

    Charles Stephen Edge Jr, Age 48, of Minneapolis, MN passed away April 20, 2024 of a cerebral aneurysm. Born July 10, 1975 in Atlanta, Georgia to Stephen and Cathy Edge. Charles grew up in Dahlonega where he attended Lumpkin County High School and the University of Georgia in Athens, where he graduated in 1997 with a degree in Sociology and Computer Science and was a member of the Phi Kappa Theta fraternity. Charles was a true polymath and was a computer scientist, author, podcaster, musician and artist, making impacts wherever he bent his considerable talents. He was also a devoted son, brother, friend and, most importantly, father to his two children Kace and Violet. Anyone who met Charles knew that these two amazing humans were the center of his world.

    Charles’ professional accomplishments and influence were felt around the world. He spent 15 years as the Chief Technology officer of 318 Inc. in Santa Monica and 5 years at Jamf, in Minneapolis. At the time of his death, he was the Chief Technology Officer of developing a new security product called Secret Chest. He was also the author of over 20 books, including the yet to be published four volume History of Computers. Charles was known throughout the computing and Apple SysAdmin community for selflessly sharing his time and expertise with friends around the world. He maintained three podcasts, including the MacAdmins Podcast and The History of Computing, and over the years spoke at many conferences including Defcon, Blackhat and MacSysAdmin. Colleagues universally recognize his generosity, good humor and incredible intellectual capacity in helping others and solving problems. Quickly writing an app, a script, or bit of code or building a website or database to solve a problem or to satisfy his own curiosity could happen at any time and you tried not to be too surprised by anything he would do. Charles acted ethically and generously with his knowledge and talents and embodied the ideal that with great power comes great responsibility.

    Charles leaves a huge hole in the hearts of all who knew him, but none more than his close friends and family. He made his home in the north but went back to Georgia to spend time in Dahlonega with his father Steve and sister Nicole regularly. His devotion to the Georgia Bulldogs never flagged. He was a supportive friend and epic tabletop gamer whose adventures will always be remembered. His most important role, however, will always be that of devoted father. He was incredibly proud of his two children and would do whatever he could to spend time with them, greeting Kace with laser rifles at home or 3-D printing a dollhouse for Violet.

    Charles is survived by his children Kace and Violet, father Stephen, sister Nicole Edge and many beloved extended family members and friends. Memorial gathering will be held Saturday April 27, 3-5 p.m. at Town and Country Club, 300 Mississippi River Road, Saint Paul, MN, 55104.

  8. Let us know in the newsletter when/if the book release is announced.

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