To enable dreams on a grand scale, Pausch began his latest venture, called Alice. Alice is a free computer application that teaches kids to program, while giving them the impression that they are simply creating animated stories.
Created by a Carnegie Mellon team including Wanda Dann, Dennis Cosgrove and Caitlin Kelleher, Alice has already been downloaded more than a million times. The new version of Alice will feature characters from the popular computer game "The Sims."
After his diagnosis, Pausch devoted almost all of his time to his family, moving to a location near his wife's family, so that she would have some emotional support, and spent a lot of time with his three kids.
He had tried to approach what he called his "engineering problem" as a scientist: He interviewed people who'd lost their parents and asked them what they would have wanted to have as keepsakes; what they wished their parents had told them before they died. Pausch said he wanted to make sure he gave his wife and children what they would need to remember him, and to know that he loved them.
He and his wife, Jai, consulted psychotherapist Michele Reiss and other experts to help them grapple with such issues as when to tell the children. Reiss says very young children "have no particular time orientation yet. So you can talk to a young child in terms of breakfast time, or lunchtime, or dinnertime, or nap time, but you can't talk about the day after tomorrow, or next week, or next month, much less three to six months from now."
Therefore, the decision was made not to tell the children until their father was much sicker. The Pausch family had asked any viewers who might run into them to respect the experts' opinion and say nothing.
One of the things Pausch left behind for his kids: the lecture. He called it a message in a bottle. The lecture, along with private videos he made for their eyes alone, and a book he wrote called "The Last Lecture" would help give his children -- at least one of whom is too young now to be able to have distinct memories of her father -- a sense of how much he loved them.
Sawyer asked Pausch about his children, in particular Chloe, the youngest. "I hope that her passion will take her to wherever she goes. And the same for Dylan and Logan. I just hope that they have passion for things, and I'm sure they will. I'm sure their mother will instill that in them. And whatever they see of me in direct memories and indirect memories, uh, will send that signal. Because if they have passion for things, then I'm happy for whatever they have passion for."
But if Pausch's lecture was written for an audience of only three, it has touched millions of others as well. People around the country told ABC News about the many ways his lecture had helped bring magic into their lives.
Alfred Nicolosi of Salem, N.J., said the night he watched Pausch's lecture was the "same night when Randy's life turned mine around." Battling depression, cancer surgery and facing heart problems, Nicolosi cleaned up his life, literally.
"I had never been very organized person, but this was exceptional. I'd allowed piles of boxes, groceries, laundry, books scattered everywhere. There was absolutely no order to my life, no way to find things, it was just lost. So immediately after seeing the lecture, I began to organize my house, and I felt like I was rediscovering my life in the process."