Programmer and internet activist Aaron Swartz gave the online world a major shock on January 11 when he committed suicide in his New York City apartment. The 26-year-old, who played a major role in the development of Reddit and Creative Commons, was facing a jail sentence of up to 35 years and $1million in penalties for his unauthorized downloading of academic journals articles from JSTOR. It is believed the prosecution’s refusal to accept his plea bargain offer forced him to take his own life.
The American serial killer dubbed the “Night Stalker” – who went on a murder spree in the mid-1980s and killed 14 people – died of cancer on June 7 at Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae, California. He had been on death row for several years but couldn’t be executed due to California’s lengthy legal procedures. It has long been rumoured that a biopic, with James Franco as its protagonist, would be made on him.
Tony Soprano survived all the rival families’ assaults on his life in the famed HBO TV series The Sopranos but wasn’t so lucky when it came to real life. James Gandolfini died of a heart attack on June 19 in Rome, where he was vacationing with his family.
Douglas C. Engelbart
Douglas C. Engelbart is credited as being the inventor of mouse; the computer peripheral, not the mammal. On July 2, at the age of 88, he died at his residence in Atherton, California due to kidney failure.
Glee star Cory Monteith battled hard with his substance abuse problems for almost two decades before giving in on July 13. The Canadian actor’s official cause of death was heroine and alcohol abuse.
Espionage and techno thriller novelist Tom Clancy died of an undisclosed illness at a John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore on October 1. More than 100 million copies of his novels were sold worldwide and 17 of them were bestsellers. His writings also inspired the “Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell” video game franchise.
The Fast and the Furious hunk Paul Walker was in a horrific car accident on November 30 in Santa Clarita, California. The 40-year-old actor was the passenger in his friend and former pro driver Roger Rodas’ Porsche Carrera GT that crashed into a light pole, resulting in the duo’s instant death.
The man whose efforts ended the apartheid rule in South Africa, passed away from natural causes on December 5 at the age of 95. He became his country’s President from 1994-99 too, and was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian work a year earlier.
Irish actor Peter O'Toole lost his long battle with illness on December 14 at a London Hospital. The 81-year-old’s career in the movies spanned more than five decades, during which time he earned 7 Academy Award nominations. He never managed a win though.
Weapons designer Mikhail Kalashnikov – the man who invented the famous AK-47 assault rifles – died on December 23 in Izhevsk, Russia due to gastric hemorrhage. He was 94.