When Jack van Lint was appointed as full professor at the Eindhoven University of Technology at the age of 26 he combined a PhD in number theory with a very open scientific mind. It took a sabbatical visit to Bell Laboratories in 1966 to make him understand that a new and fascinating field of applied mathematics was emerging: discrete mathematics. It fascinated and inspired him for the rest of his life. When he passed away on September 28, 2004, he left behind a legacy of 18 books and 177 articles, covering many aspects of coding theory, combinatorics, and finite geometry. van Lint was also a strong international advocate of the role that discrete mathematics ought to play in modern applied mathematics curricula. Quite a few departments sought his advice. Years later, four different universities showed their appreciation by awarding him an honorary degree. This overview is an homage to van Lint's academic achievements and can serve as an introduction to his work for younger generations.