B R I E F B I O
[Last updated 17 July 2001 -- new
detail footnotes below]
I grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska. My business career began at age
6, making custom designed pot holders and selling them door-to-door.
I moved on to gardening, selling Christmas cards, delivering newspapers,
caddying at the golf club, pumping gas, and doing construction work.
I was intrigued with architecture, beginning in grade school, and
the skills picked up in high school drafting class led to my work
as an architectural draftsman.
Then, while studying architecture (U. of Nebraska) I got hooked
on programming computers to do 3-D modeling (as a design modeling
medium) and graphic interaction. To learn more, I moved to Ithaca,
and then Pittsburgh (CMU2)
for graduate studies in computer science and 3-D graphics. It was
a thrill to work with many talented people, who became life-long
friends. My time at CMU culminated in starting a consulting business
called Graphic Action3,
and a big development contract with Westinghouse.
I left Pittsburgh to work for five years with a real creative bunch
at the N.Y.I.T
Computer Graphics Lab (Old Westbury, NY), where I went to help
transfer early computer graphics R&D into commercial products
and the academic curriculum (Professor4
of C.S. and Arch.). I returned to Pittsburgh to work with CMU colleagues
at a start-up called Formtek. Before long, I took off to start my
own software publishing business (Jump
Development Group5), and developed software for Apple
Macintosh computers. I've since moved on to a variety of consulting
projects and evolving Internet business ideas.
If this sounds like work has been a major focus in my life, that
would be accurate. I was also married once, and am blessed with
a talented and most responsible daughter. (That's a picture of Sera
at age 7, with her beloved Hamlit.) Life-long interests include
cooking and keeping fit (bicycling, aerobics, racquetball, Pilates,
Yoga). I've always been a serious wrench-head and have rebuilt
several car engines6 (doing a time-lapse video animation
of my last project as it was being assembled). OK, I admit it, I'm
a total geek -- not just with computers.
Currently, I'm finding the joy of life in my daughter, my friends
and family, cooking, learning Yoga, and not owning a tv. I live
with my brother, Ned, in an old house in Swissvale, PA, undergoing
slow and careful renovations (I'll just leave it ambiguous as to
whether that applies to me or the house). We have a three stall
added 17 July 2001]
o r n e l l U n i v e r s i t y
I was lured to Cornell with the promise of a just-created Cornell
Program of Computer Graphics, endowed with research grants
from NSF, of which $150,000 was earmarked for building a high performance
interactive 3-d computer graphics system. Just a few months before,
I had attended the first annual SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference
in Boulder, Colorado, where I learned all about an exotic new graphics
processor, called the Picture System, made by Evans
and Sutherland Computer Corporation in Salt Lake City. It all
seemed like a perfect match.
The Picture System had custom high speed hardware to do the matrix
algebra and line clipping for geometric transformations (including
perspective division and port mapping with depth cueing), and, with
its beautiful high resolution monochrome (but variable intensity)
line-drawing display, it could heat a small house -- it was love
at first sight. Sure, there were also plans to put together a frame
buffer at Cornell, in order to program full color shaded pictures,
but this Picture System box was the brainchild of Ivan Sutherland,
the father of computer graphics, and was the most comprehensive
machine available for doing dynamic interactive 3-d display. Having
spent the entire previous year (well actually only about 20 hours
a day) writing software to do graphic display calculations similar
to what this hardware could do, but thousands of times slower, there
was no choice, I had to go.
So, I packed up my 1965 Mercedes Benz 220SEb (black with red interior)
with all my worldly possessions, including my custom-built Peugeot
Reynolds 531 racing bike from the London trip, Henry
Kloss-designed Advent loudspeakers (purchased second-hand from
Lincoln's own one-hit recording artists, "In
the Year 2525" Zager and Evans), and my home-brew Sinclair Stereo-60-based
FM receiver. I had just rebuilt the Mercedes' engine, after purchasing
it in a distress sale from my architecture prof, Al Quick, for $550
(when half the engine was in pieces in the trunk and there was a
hole in one piston) so I was READY TO ROLL!
When I approached Ithaca, my professor, Don Greenberg, Director
of the Cornell Program of Computer Graphics, met me at the edge
of town in his 1965 Volkswagen bug (constantly threatening to collapse
into a pile of rusting junk), and escorted me in to town. Don and
his lovely wife, Iris, put me up for the night in the lower bunk
of their son's room and fed me my first taste of ratatouille. Now,
Don fancied himself a street-wise dude from Queens, and in spite
of his previous years as a domineering athlete, he was just coming
into his own, in the competitive Cornell research hierarchy, so
he was really at the peak of his alpha male stage. But then, I digress.
Recursively. Needless to say, many interesting stories ensued.
We did purchase that E&S Picture System, along with a DEC PDP-11/45
mini-computer, and for the next two years, I proceeded to squeeze
the bits out of the Picture System by day, and run a new renegade
operating system called Unix on the 11/45, by night. I ended
up using the Unix troff software to format and print my master's
thesis, on Interactive modeling in three dimensions through two-dimensional
windows. [As for the Unix connection, I had read the original
paper on Unix, in the CACM, and knew that it was something special.
So, I called Ken Thompson at Bell Labs and asked how I could get
a copy for my pdp-11. After having the appropriate documents signed,
Brian Kernighan sent me a tape -- one of less than a hundred to
have been distributed outside of Bell Labs. I used Unix extensively,
in one form or another, for the following 14 years.]
a r n e g i e M e l l o n U n i v e r s
i t y
My computer-aided design research at CMU
centered around the GLIDE (Graphical Language for Interactive DEsign)
projects funded by NSF and the Army Corps of Engineers.
3G r a p
h i c A c t i o n
Under contract with the Westinghouse Transportation Division (who
manufactured small automated train systems for moving people through
airports) I built a high-performance interactive 3-d design system.
It was used to model and simulate the operation of their people
mover systems within a prospective customer's site. It was built
into a multi-media presentation room in the Atlanta airport, with
a seven foot rear-projected color display.
browsing the New York Institute of
Technology web site just now, I happened to note the current
President claims that at the age of 38, he was "the youngest person
in college history to be promoted through the ranks to full professor."
However, checking my records, I find that I was promoted from associate
to full professor by the NYIT board of trustees at the age of 31
after setting up a computer-aided design curriculum in the School
of Architecture. Ha! Obviously, not something that they keep searchable
records on, but somebody thought it would be a cool thing to claim.
u m p D e v e l o p m e n t G r o u p
I set out, as Jump Development
Group, to work on some ideas involving the management, access,
and pre-viewing of rich-media documents. As the market transformed,
and I figured out how to overcome some basic system limitations
that were getting in my way, I ended up developing a system enhancement
for Apple Macintosh computers, called RAM Charger (first
sold as OptiMem). I was lucky to have a small group of dedicated
people at Jump to persevere through the struggles of building all
the pieces of a software publishing business. Jump is now fading
into history, but good friends remain.
Volkswagens, fixing them, and then reselling them, was one of my
on-going schemes to pay college tuition.