This is sad news. Mike had a fascinating background, and was certainly a 
dedicated enthusiast of opera. I am happy to hear that the Northbrook 
public library will be making his unique collection available.


Scott D. Smith CAS

Chicago Audio Works, Inc.

On 10/21/2013 6:47 PM, Matt Sohn wrote:
> Forwarded message from Mitchell Heller:
> Very sorry to report that Mike Richter, who many of you knew from 
> various news groups, and created may interesting DVDs devoted to the 
> history of opera has passed away. His obituary is below
> Michael D. Richter, who died today in Glenview, Illinois following a 
> brief illness, gained international recognition in two unrelated 
> fields in his 74 year lifetime: computer applications in space 
> technology, and the preservation of opera recordings.
> With only a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of 
> Chicago as academic training, in 1969 he was one of 100 civilian 
> recipients of the Presidential Medal recognizing “those who made 
> Apollo fly”, for his work at M.I.T. Labs in designing micro-computer 
> applications in the Apollo guidance systems, largely done before the 
> first micro-computers had been built. After a brief stop at Commodore 
> Corporation, where he designed proprietary software including the 
> first letter-merging program and the first practical word processor 
> for the Commodore 64 (the first widely marketed home computer), he 
> moved on to the TRW Corporation’s aerospace division in Los Angeles, 
> where his work included theoretical computer applications that later 
> became known as digital photography – which began when he used his own 
> Commodore computer to correct over-exposed photos he had taken as a 
> semi-professional photographer.
> After a viral infection of the heart forced him to take permanent 
> disability while still in his 40’s, Mike began what he called his 
> “second life”, immersing himself the world of opera. Having been 
> active on the internet since its inception as a link between the 
> handful of universities and labs working on Apollo, he established 
> “Opera-L”, which soon became the second most active web site for opera 
> enthusiasts – second only to the site sponsored by the Metropolitan 
> Opera. He soon established a second web site as a means of information 
> exchange between the most knowledgeable opera supporters, performers 
> and behind the scenes professionals. Already well on the way to 
> accumulating what would become one of the largest privately-held opera 
> recording collections in the world, in the 1980s, Mike turned his 
> computer skills to the preservation of opera recordings. Mike’s 
> computer enhanced Edison cylinders, otherwise unrecorded live 
> performances made during World War II for servicemen in isolated posts 
> onto CD’s, and rare vintage recordings to clarify the sound to a level 
> better than the original. As rights to these obscure and often illicit 
> recordings could never be obtained, he then distributed a handful of 
> copies at cost to a few serious collectors, with copies available to 
> the public at the Library of Congress, The University of Pittsburg and 
> at music evenings he often hosted at his home in Los Angeles. Although 
> he never claimed the credit, more than one member of the opera 
> community believes that his transcription of a secret wire recording 
> of a  class taught in the 1950s at the Met by Maria Callas was the 
> inspiration for the Tony Award winning musical “The Master Class”.
> A heart attack in 2009 forced Mike to give up these activities, 
> transfer his opera recordings to a distributer who is still in the 
> process of cataloging and transcribing them for public release, and 
> relocate to Glenview, to be near his brother’s family in Deerfield and 
> Highland Park. Over the last four years, while a resident at the 
> Seasons of Brookdale, he has conducted both opera evenings and a 
> weekly movie night for residents, even though his voice had been 
> reduced in the last year to little more than a whisper. Just before 
> his death, arrangements were made that his last collection of 
> commercially available opera videos and recordings – numbering about 
> 200 titles – will be put in circulation at the Northbrook Public Library.
> No services will be held.