James Jessiman Memorial

James Jessiman

LDraw.org hasn't always been a community's effort. Initially the LDraw File Format and the original LDraw and LEdit DOS programs were the creation of a single man: James Jessiman. James died from complications of a flu in the morning of 25th July 1997 at Wagga Wagga, NSW Australia. He was twenty-six years old. We'd like to remember the person who started it all.

Learn about LDraw's creator. Read: Just James - A recollection of his life by his parents. An article published in BrickJournal and have a look at the Commemoration-Gallery of the 10th anniversary. Also read letters sent by his friends after James passed away and check out the guest book of the original James Jessiman Memorial Site, which served as the central LDraw site from July 1997 through July 1999 when LDraw.org was launched.

But James wasn't just LDraw; get a picture drawn by his parents back in the year 2000:

"James Anthony Jessiman was born on 8th June 1971 in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia. He died there on 25th July 1997 of influenza.

In his all too short life, James enjoyed:

  • Family - his parents and younger brother, Richard
  • Science generally and particularly Mathematics
  • Friends - he was a very generous man
  • Lego, Lego, Lego.....
  • Computers and helping others to use them
  • Amateur Radio Club - he held a full operators' license, VK2MLV
  • Wagga Computer Club, he was President
  • Riverina NetWare User Group
  • Ten Pin Bowling
  • University Bible Study Group
  • Novels by Terry Pratchett - he had a great sense of humour
  • Music by Billy Joel - He drove 500kms to attend concerts every time the artist was here
  • His business - Rivtron Computers
  • His car - a hand-me-down from his grandfather, and
  • His cat - Vipsania

James displayed a remarkable aptitude for thinking and logic at a very early age winning many competitions in both Science and Mathematics. In fact, his first computer was gained as the prize for being first in the state of NSW in a Science competition at the age of 13."

Original 'In Remembrance Of James Jessiman' Page

The community was deeply touched by James Jessiman's passing. Included below is the original James Jessiman Memorial Page in the state it was in just before LDraw.org was launched.

On July 25, 1997, James Jessiman passed away. His passing at a young age stunned and saddened a worldwide community of friends.

But he will be long remembered. And that memory will be cherished by all whose lives he so deeply touched. For James had given a gift to the world. A gift that he had spent countless hours of toil to realize, then given freely to all.

The worldwide community of LEGO fans lost a bright light in the passing of James Jessiman. Here perhaps, in some way, we can keep a little of that light alive.

Since James' passing much has been done to continue the development of LDraw and related resources. The contribution of LDraw has been like a water drop causing a large ripple effect impacting all of its surroundings.

James' memory will live on in his creation and in our hearts forever. He not only contributed this wonderful resource, but his kind spirit and helping hand gave each of us a little boost. James made an reversible impact on the world around him, which in his case was literally around the world.


James Jessiman Memorial Award

The James Jessiman Memorial Award was established by the Jessiman Family to honor an individual who has contributed to the furthering of LDraw, the DAT format, and James' memory.

Every year, in consultation with Don and Robyn Jessiman, the LDraw.org Steering Committee carefully choose the recipient from amongst those who have worked hard to keep LDraw alive, with the caveat that current SteerCo members are ineligible. Here is a list of the past recipients:

  • 2001 - Steve Bliss
  • 2002 - not awarded
  • 2003 - Jacob Sparre Andersen
  • 2004 - Lars C. Hassing
  • 2005 - Michael Lachmann
  • 2006 - Orion Pobursky
  • 2007 - Kevin Clague
  • 2008 - Philippe Hurbain
  • 2009 - Tim Courtney
  • 2010 - not awarded
  • 2011 - Travis Cobbs
  • 2012 - Steffen Lohse
  • 2013 - Magnus Forsberg
  • 2014 - Sergio Reano
  • 2015 - Roland Melkert
  • 2016 - Nils Schmidt

  • 2017 - Chris Dee

    There was no discussion over the recipient for the this year's James Jessiman Memorial Award and the SteerCo reached consensus immediately: Chris Dee
    Chris discovered LDraw in 1997 or 1998 after abandoning a similar project to build a LEGO parts library in PostScript. The initial motivation was to create replacement instructions for second-hand sets he had acquired, and to produce instructions for the alternative models - this was in the days before the existence of internet resources like PICSL and its predecessors. Frustrated at the very first hurdle by the omission of part 4080 (Tipper Bucket 4 x 6) he set about authoring it and was amazed to see it released in the 1998-03 update. More parts followed, and circumstances found Chris concentrating on the patterned minifig torsos, which had largely been overlooked at that time. The intellectual challenge of part authoring and the then lack of functionally rich model creation tools (like MLCad) overtook the instruction creation idea. He soon installed Steve Bliss' LDraw Add-On program (LDAO) and with L3Lab as a renderer found an efficient toolset for part authoring - a combination he still favours today. Appointment as the a second LDraw Library Admin followed in 2003.
    Beside the regular library updates Chris had the enormous task to standardises the headers of more than 3300 files with the primary purpose of aligning the library with the Contributor Agreement back in 2008.

Until 2005 there used to be held a prize giving ceremony at BrickFest, Washington. The 2006/2007 SteerCo has slightly changed the formula of this presentation. The prize is now be given "virtually" and is no longer bound to an actual LEGOfest, due to the fact that LDraw.org is primarily a online community with members spread all over the world. The recipient beside getting the established plaque - is honored for an entire year at LDraw's front page (have a look at the top right-hand corner). The SteerCo's decision aimed to balances the lack of chances for non-Americans to attend BrickFest.


Just James

A recollection of his life by his parents. With permission from Publisher Joe Meno as well as Robyn and Don Jessiman we are honored to mirror an article published in BrickJournal, Spring 2006, Volume #1, Issue 4.

Commemoration-Gallery of the 10th anniversary

This gallery pays tribute to the 10th anniversary of James Jessiman's passing showing pictures of a:

1 4 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 3002.dat

(a red Brick 2x3 for all those who are not CAD nerds) LDraw.org's logo.


Following James' death, several members of the community wrote him sentimental letters. View these here. Also, view the archive of the guestbook of the original James Jessiman Memorial site.

James' Website

James' personal website is still available to view online. The above link takes you to the Archive.org version of his site as it was when he passed away.

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