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When a homeless man was killed by a train on 11/08/18 in The Dalles, Oregon, no-one realised how many people it would effect. He was Terry Davis, and he was on a mission from God.

When a homeless man was accidentally killed by a train on the 11/08/18 in The Dalles, Oregon, no one realised how many people it would effect. The man was a computer programmer called Terry Davis and he was on a mission from God.

He'd designed an entire operating system called Temple OS and according to Terry its creation had been a direct instruction from God himself. As a fellow programmer explained it, 'you can imagine how over time one man might build a house, but this is like building a sky scraper, on your own!' And this was all done while Terry battled a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Aleks Krotoski searches the emails, web posts and live streams to piece together the life of a remarkable individual who's work touched so many and is now celebrated not just as a technological achievement but an artistic one.

Producer: Peter McManus
Researcher: Elizabeth Ann Duffy

Available now

29 minutes

Last on

Mon 11 Nov 2019 16:30


Neita Cecil

Neita Cecil

Neita Cecil is a longtime reporter who has worked at newspapers in Washington and Oregon since 1986. She has seen the rise of social media simultaneously dilute the power of newspapers, but also propel reporters to a role of serving as trusted fact-checkers of what is seen online. 


She wrote the first report of Terry Davis’ death, and tells us about how even though he wasn’t named in the story, people began to call her to confirm it was really him, leading her to explore who Terry Davis really was.

Darren Clark

Darren Clark

Darren Clark is a software developer who turned his hobby of working with computers, electronics, and cars in to his career. In his free time he supports the development of open source software, and enjoys the challenge of reverse engineering automotive electronics and computer hardware.


 He tells us how he came to know of TempleOS through a programming forum and after interested in how it was created and the unorthodox way it worked, and through this he came to know Terry Davis, and is now one of a few dedicated archivists preserving and promoting the technological legacy of TempleOS and Terry himself.

Jesse Hicks

Jesse Hicks

Jesse Hicks is a writer based in Detroit whose work has appeared in Politico, Harper's, and many places online. He frequently writes about science, technology, and the stranger realism of the internet." 


He wrote the article ‘God’s Lonely Programmer’ , the first deep exploration into Terry Davis’ life and work, and he tells us about his correspondence with Terry, the path Terry’s life took, and the value of TempleOS in the wider world.

Frédéric Legros

Frédéric Legros

Frédéric Legros is Director Le Palais idéal (the "Ideal Palace") Museum in Hauterive, France.

He walks us around the Palais, telling us the story of it’s creator, a postman and artist Ferdinand Cheval. He explains that though Ferdinand was unknown and untrained, his life work, his hand build palace home, inspired some of the worlds best artists, including Picasso.

Kenneth Malac

Kenneth  Malac

Kenneth Malac is a professional software developer living in Silicon Valley doing web application development. He has an interest in operating systems, low-level systems engineering, and software architecture. He runs the Dailyprog programming community, a community of programmers hailing from all around the world with a common interest in software engineering and technology. Many of his projects are available on his Github profile and he also has a Youtube channel. <?xml:namespace prefix = "o" ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

In March 2018, he went to deliver a care package to Terry Davis, and conducted one of the last interviews with Terry before his death later that year. He tells us why young programmers are still drawn to Terry’s work, why the online community wanted to support him, and what it was like to meet and speak with him face to face.

Victoria Tischler

Victoria Tischler

Professor Victoria Tischler is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. She has a PhD in psychology from the University of Nottingham where she worked for 12 years. She retains an honorary position at the University of Nottingham Medical School. Her research interests focus on creativity and mental health and multisensory approaches to dementia care. She is co-executive editor of the journal Arts and Health: an international journal for research, policy and practice. She serves on the scientific advisory board for Boots UK archive and is a trustee for the charity Paintings in Hospitals.  


She talks to us about mental health and artistic expression, and how TempleOS could be viewed as a piece of Outsider Art.


  • Mon 11 Nov 2019 16:30