Director Nerd, Inventor Nerd, Science Fiction Nerd, Writer Nerd

James Cameron (Canadian film director, screenwriter, editor, and inventor) was born on August 16, 1954

James Francis Cameron is a Canadian film director, film producer, deep-sea explorer, screenwriter, and editor. He first found success with the science-fiction hit The Terminator (1984). He then became a popular Hollywood director and was hired to write & direct Aliens (1986) and three years later followed up with The Abyss (1989). He found further critical acclaim for his use of special effects in the action packed blockbuster Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). After his film True Lies (1994) Cameron took on his biggest film at the time Titanic (1997) which won the Academy Award for Best Picture and him the Academy Award for Best Director and Film Editing. After Titanic, Cameron began a project that took almost 10 years to make, his science-fiction epic Avatar (2009), for which he was nominated for Best Director and Film Editing again. In the time between making Titanic and Avatar, Cameron spent several years creating many documentary films (specifically underwater documentaries) and co-developed the digital 3D Fusion Camera System. Described by a biographer as part-scientist and part-artist, Cameron has also contributed to underwater filming and remote vehicle technologies. On March 26, 2012, Cameron reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean, in the Deepsea Challenger submersible. He was the first person to do this in a solo descent, and only the third person to do so ever.

Inventor Nerd, Music Nerd, Technology Nerd

Bob Moog (American pioneer of electronic music) was born on May 23, 1934

Robert Arthur Moog, commonly called Bob Moog, was an American pioneer of electronic music, best known as the inventor of the Moog synthesizer. The Moog synthesizer was one of the first widely used electronic musical instruments. Early developmental work on the components of the synthesizer occurred at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, now the Computer Music Center. While there, Moog developed the voltage controlled oscillators, ADSR envelope generators, and other synthesizer modules with composer Herbert Deutsch. Moog created the first voltage-controlled subtractive synthesizer to utilize a keyboard as a controller and demonstrated it at the AES convention in 1964. In 1966, Moog filed a patent application for his unique low-pass filter U.S. Patent 3,475,623, which issued in October 1969. He held several dozen patents. Moog employed his theremin company (R. A. Moog Co., which would later become Moog Music) to manufacture and market his synthesizers. Unlike the few other 1960s synthesizer manufacturers, Moog shipped a piano-style keyboard as the standard user interface to his synthesizers.

Inventor Nerd, Technology Nerd

Bob Metcalfe (co-invented Ethernet, founded 3Com and formulated Metcalfe’s Law) was born on April 7, 1946

Robert Melancton Metcalfe is an electrical engineer from the United States who co-invented Ethernet, founded 3Com and formulated Metcalfe’s Law. As of January 2006, he is a general partner of Polaris Venture Partners. Starting in January 2011, he holds the position of Professor of Electrical Engineering and Director of Innovation at The University of Texas at Austin. In 1964, Metcalfe graduated from Bay Shore Public High School. He graduated from MIT in 1969 with two B.S. degrees, one in Electrical Engineering and the other in Industrial Management from the MIT Sloan School of Management. He then went to Harvard for graduate school, earning his M.S. in 1970. While pursuing a doctorate in computer science, Metcalfe took a job with MIT’s Project MAC after Harvard refused to let him be responsible for connecting the school to the brand-new ARPAnet. At MIT’s Project MAC, Metcalfe was responsible for building some of the hardware that would link MIT’s minicomputers with the ARPAnet. Metcalfe was so enamored with ARPAnet, he made it the topic of his doctoral dissertation. However, Harvard flunked him. His inspiration for a new dissertation came while working at Xerox PARC where he read a paper about the ALOHA network at the University of Hawaii. He identified and fixed some of the bugs in the AlohaNet model and made his analysis part of a revised thesis, which finally earned him his Harvard PhD in 1973. Metcalfe was working at Xerox PARC in 1973 when he and David Boggs invented Ethernet, a standard for connecting computers over short distances. Metcalfe identifies the day Ethernet was born as May 22, 1973, the day he circulated a memo titled “Alto Ethernet” which contained a rough schematic of how it would work. “That is the first time Ethernet appears as a word, as does the idea of using coax as ether, where the participating stations, like in AlohaNet or ARPAnet, would inject their packets of data, they’d travel around at megabits per second, there would be collisions, and retransmissions, and back-off,” Metcalfe explained. Boggs identifies another date as the birth of Ethernet: November 11, 1973, the first day the system actually functioned. In 1979, Metcalfe departed PARC and founded 3Com, a manufacturer of computer networking equipment. In 1980 he received the Association for Computing Machinery Grace Murray Hopper Award for his contributions to the development of local networks, specifically Ethernet. In 1990 Metcalfe lost a boardroom skirmish at 3Com in the contest to succeed Bill Krause as CEO. The board of directors chose Eric Benhamou to run the networking company Metcalfe had founded in his Palo Alto apartment in 1979. Metcalfe left 3Com and began a 10 year stint as a publisher and pundit, writing an Internet column for InfoWorld. He became a venture capitalist in 2001 and is now a General Partner at Polaris Venture Partners. He is a director of Pop!Tech, an executive technology conference he cofounded in 1997. He has recently been working with Polaris-funded startup Ember to work on a new type of energy grid, Enernet.

Computer Nerd, Inventor Nerd, Technology Nerd

Bill Buxton (Canadian computer scientist and designer) was born on March 10, 1949

William Arthur Stewart “Bill” Buxton is a Canadian computer scientist and designer. He is currently a Principal researcher at Microsoft Research. He is known for being one of the pioneers in the human–computer interaction field. Bill Buxton received his bachelor’s degree in Music from Queen’s University in 1973 and his master’s degree in Computer Science from University of Toronto in 1978. Bill Buxton’s scientific contributions include applying Fitts’ law to human-computer interaction and the invention and analysis of the marking menu (together with Gordon Kurtenbach). He pioneered multi-touch interfaces and music composition tools in the late 70s, while working in the Dynamics Graphics Project at University of Toronto. Recently, he is also known for his book Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design (Morgan Kaufmann, 2007). Bill Buxton is a regular columnist at BusinessWeek. Before joining Microsoft Research he was Chief Scientist at Alias Wavefront and SGI, and a Professor at University of Toronto. He received the SIGCHI Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 for his many fundamental contributions to the human–computer interaction field.

Computer Nerd, Inventor Nerd

Steve Jobs (American business magnate and inventor) was born on February 24, 1955

Steven Paul Jobs is an American business magnate and inventor. He is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Apple Inc. Jobs also previously served as chief executive of Pixar Animation Studios; he became a member of the board of The Walt Disney Company in 2006, following the acquisition of Pixar by Disney. He was credited in the 1995 movie Toy Story as an executive producer. In the late 1970s, Jobs, with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Mike Markkula, and others, designed, developed, and marketed one of the first commercially successful lines of personal computers, the Apple II series. In the early 1980s, Jobs was among the first to see the commercial potential of the mouse-driven graphical user interface which led to the creation of the Macintosh. After losing a power struggle with the board of directors in 1984, Jobs resigned from Apple and founded NeXT, a computer platform development company specializing in the higher education and business markets. Apple’s subsequent 1996 buyout of NeXT brought Jobs back to the company he co-founded, and he has served as its CEO since 1997. In 1986, he acquired the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm Ltd which was spun off as Pixar Animation Studios. He remained CEO and majority shareholder at 50.1% until its acquisition by The Walt Disney company in 2006. Consequently Jobs became Disney’s largest individual shareholder at 7% and a member of Disney’s Board of Directors. Jobs’ history in business has contributed much to the symbolic image of the idiosyncratic, individualistic Silicon Valley entrepreneur, emphasizing the importance of design and understanding the crucial role aesthetics play in public appeal. His work driving forward the development of products that are both functional and elegant has earned him a devoted following.

Inventor Nerd, Science Nerd

Gerard K. O’Neill (physicist and space activist) was born on February 6, 1927

Gerard Kitchen O’Neill was an American physicist and space activist. As a faculty member of Princeton University, he invented a device called the particle storage ring for high-energy physics experiments. Later, he invented a magnetic launcher called the mass driver. In the 1970s, he developed a plan to build human settlements in outer space, including a space habitat design known as the O’Neill cylinder. He founded the Space Studies Institute, an organization devoted to funding research into space manufacturing and colonization. O’Neill began researching high-energy particle physics at Princeton in 1954 after he received his doctorate from Cornell University. Two years later, he published his theory for a particle storage ring. This invention allowed particle physics experiments at much higher energies than had previously been possible. In 1965 at Stanford University, he performed the first colliding beam physics experiment. While teaching physics at Princeton, O’Neill became interested in the possibility that humans could live in outer space. He researched and proposed a futuristic idea for human settlement in space, the O’Neill cylinder, in “The Colonization of Space”, his first paper on the subject. He held a conference on space manufacturing at Princeton in 1975. Many who became post-Apollo-era space activists attended. O’Neill built his first mass driver prototype with professor Henry Kolm in 1976. He considered mass drivers critical for extracting the mineral resources of the Moon and asteroids. His award-winning book The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space inspired a generation of space exploration advocates.

Computer Nerd, Game Nerd, Inventor Nerd, Technology Nerd

Nolan Bushnell (American engineer and entrepreneur) was born on February 4, 1943

Nolan Key Bushnell is an American engineer and entrepreneur who founded both Atari, Inc. and the Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza-Time Theaters chain. Bushnell has been inducted into the Video Game Hall of Fame and the Consumer Electronics Association Hall of Fame, received the BAFTA Fellowship and the Nations Restaurant News “Innovator of the Year” award, and was named one of Newsweek’s “50 Men Who Changed America.” Bushnell has started more than twenty companies and is one of the founding fathers of the video game industry. He is currently on the board of Anti-Aging Games, but his latest venture is an educational software company called Brainrush that is using video game technology in educational software, incorporating real brain science, in a way that Bushnell believes will fundamentally change education. Nolan, who is co-founder and chairman of Brainrush, believes that Brainrush will be his biggest success.