Ori Redler 1964-2020
Posted on: November 23rd, 2020 Eyal Redler
It is with profound sadness and a heavy heart that I share with you the news that Mellel cofounder, my brother Ori Redler, had passed away two weeks ago.
The dream to create a word processor “as it was meant to be” was our shared vision since the early 90s. Ori was an author, journalist, editor and translator who needed a solid and comfortable writing tool. I was a novice programmer, working mainly on text processing issues, with a specialty in right-to-left and Hebrew issues.
We made several attempts at creating a product on the Classic Mac OS – all failed brilliantly. But the seed of Mellel was finally planted when Mac OS X was released in 1999. Ori and I saw the lack of Hebrew support in that OS as a golden opportunity to fill a real need, and pursue our dream. Mellel was the first Mac OS X word processor to support Hebrew (and Arabic shortly afterwards), and growth was fast. From a free utility used for typing Hebrew, Mellel evolved to a full-fledged text editor with footnotes, tables, automatic numbering and so much more.
During the first couple of years of Mellel’s existence, we were convinced most of our users choose Mellel for its excellent Hebrew and other “Exotic” language support, but a user survey revealed the surprising fact that the vast majority of our users were using Mellel to write common Latin script languages. We were pleasantly surprised and proud to learn that most of our users were using Mellel for serious academic writing. We realized we created a valuable and useful tool for writers all over the world.
This is how we split the work on Mellel between us: We would discuss features and the way to implement them together, I would do the programming and deal with all the technical details, and Ori would take care of all the rest: graphics, documentation, testing and more. Ori was also responsible for customer support, setting up the website, marketing and accounting.
In addition to his work on Mellel, Ori continued to write in newspapers and magazines, publish books, edit and translate – using Mellel almost exclusively. He was not a tech person, but a gifted and passionate writer, who brought the writer’s point of view into everything we did. A lot of Mellel’s features were born as an answer to Ori’s need for a certain writing capability. And when our users started requesting features, it was Ori, the writer and academic, who knew how to translate those needs into useful features.
For many years Ori was the sole responsible for customer support, and his answers to users’ letters and requests were always patient and detailed. He was a true man of peace who could answer the most hostile and angry letters in a way that would turn the most furious customer to a satisfied and loyal one. His unparalleled writing skills and sense of humor made our marketing materials, newsletter and all other forms of outward communications the most readable and enjoyable reading material you could find.
At the end of 2019 Ori was diagnosed with lung cancer. Ori began treatment immediately but the cancer was very violent and did not respond to treatment. On November 8, a few days after his 56th birthday, Ori died in a Tel-Aviv Hospital. He is survived by his two-and-a-half year old son, his spouse, two brothers and his mother.
Mellel was not Ori’s primary occupation, but he was extremely proud of it, and regarded it as one of his major achievements. Even through this last year, as he underwent difficult treatments that had weakened him considerably, Ori kept working. Together we continued to debate and plan the future versions of Mellel up to the very end.
Ori is no longer with us, but his vision and his unique world view continue to live within our hearts and within Mellel.