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Founder of Sebastopol's O'Reilly Media called a technological visionary

  • news lede/--Tim O'Reilly is the founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media in Sebastopol, Wednesday March 12, 2008. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat) 2008

Tim O'Reilly rushed through a throng of what he calls the "alpha geeks," 900 of the tech world's elite gathered for his summit on emerging technology.

He stopped suddenly for a brief chat with a disheveled MIT professor whose work is revolutionizing the world of neuroscience.

Then he was off again, bursting out with a new thought from eBay's billionaire founder, one of dozens of Internet pioneers he taps for insight on high-tech's future.

This is the life of O'Reilly: Founder of Sebastopol-based O'Reilly Media and a visionary who connects people and ideas in order to turn technological possibilities into realities.

His ability to spot revolutions in science before they happen is legendary in the tech world, and is often referred to as the "O'Reilly Radar."

He knew the founders of Google and Amazon before those companies became household names, and he's got their cell phone numbers on his iPhone to prove it.

He also knows the next generation of tech innovators, people who could become as widely known as Bill Gates or Steve Jobs in 10 years.

"Tim is sort of central to this whole tech universe," said Peter Biddle, whose company Trampoline Systems developed software that visualizes how people are connected. "He is a huge node in the network."

O'Reilly, 53, made his fortune and built up O'Reilly Media by using his foresight to publish computer books that became must-read texts for developers.

He published "The Whole Internet User's Guide and Catalog" less than two years after the World Wide Web was launched in December 1990 -- long before the Web's impact was clear.

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