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Dave's Biography

My first memorable experience with technology came as a young child when I stuck one of my mother's hair pins into a wall socket. The hair pin turned red hot and burned my fingers, I dropped it, and it melted its image into the linoleum floor. For years later I could walk by that outlet and see the image of where that hairpin had melted into the floor. I guess from that moment on, it has been technology and more technology all my life.

At age eight I built my first go-cart out of wood and a lawnmower motor. From there I moved on to building boats and motor scooters. I was fortunate that one of my neighbors had a machine shop and the other was a ham radio operator. I spent much of my time watching them work and learning what they did. By age ten I was building radio sets and experimenting with other electrical gadgets. I was also making a little money fixing lawnmowers for the neighbors.

Living near the river in Jacksonville, Florida I spent much of my time on the water, first with rowboats, then motorboats, and eventually waterskiing. As a kid my family couldn't afford boats and motors so I had to scrounge for myself. I went around the neighborhood and talked people out of their old broken outboard motors and rotten boats. I learned to rebuild the motors and repair the boats and used them as my main means of transportation around the city of Jacksonville. I got so good at fixing boats and motors that I got a job as a professional outboard motor mechanic at age fifteen. Working only on the weekends I was making more money than any other kid in high school and soon bought my first car.

With the car came more places to go and things to see and soon my brain was constantly filled with thoughts of anything but high school work. As a result I barely graduated with a D average, much to the chagrin of my educated mother. Soon I moved to the Florida Keys and became a full time outboard motor mechanic.

After little more than a year in paradise, I got drafted for the Vietnam War. Instead of joining the Army, I volunteered for the U.S. Air Force as an Electronic Technician. This was great because they sent me to almost two years of electronics school. I then spent a year in Thailand fixing airborne radar systems to support the war effort. After that year the Air Force let me go with a GI bill to pay for college.

Studying Electronic Engineering in college was a breeze because I already knew more about real-world electronics than most of the professors. Soon the college set me up with my own personal laboratory and I began designing experiments for the other students to perform. Since I was the only student with their own office/lab, life was good again, and I got paid for my time between classes. This lab work got me going on optics, lasers, vacuum systems, magnetic resonance, and even early computers. Yes, I had my stacks of punch-cards that were my 'application programs' for the big mainframe computer downstairs. College was fun and I graduated with honors. Then I took the farthest away job I could find with a company called Tektronix in Beaverton, Oregon.

Designing electronic instruments for Tektronix was a drag; their bureaucracy was just too slow and clumsy for my liking. I eventually started a support group in their Scientific Computer Center and began providing hardware and software support for engineers who were beginning to design microprocessor based instrumentation. I joined the 'personal computer' revolution in 1975 by building my own PC and designing my own modem. I soon had what was probably the first Bulletin Board System (BBS) ever put online in Portland, Oregon. I successfully encouraged hundreds of other Tektronix engineers to start building their own PC's and joining my 'network'.

By 1978 I left Tektronix to become Director of Engineering at a small startup computer company in Los Angles, California. This went on for a couple of years but I longed to get away from LA and back to Oregon. I came back to Oregon for a Vice President position at another startup firm that failed after about a year. With money in my pocket from the first company, I dropped out of the working world for the first time and began doing my 'own thing'.

Last Update: 2006-Dec-23