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.

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Computer Nerd, Technology Nerd, Writer Nerd

John C. Dvorak (technology columnist and broadcaster) was born on April 5, 1952

John C. Dvorak is an American columnist and broadcaster in the areas of technology and computing. His writing extends back to the 1980s, when he was a mainstay of a variety of magazines. Dvorak is also the Vice-President of Mevio (formerly PodShow) and well known for his work for Tech TV. John Charles Dvorak was born in 1952 in Los Angeles, California. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in history, with a minor in flugelhorn, and has homes in the San Francisco Bay area and Port Angeles, in Washington State. He is married to Mimi Smith-Dvorak. Dvorak is a noted collector of Bordeaux wines and has been a tasting judge at various international events. He started his career as a wine writer. Dvorak obtained a technician class amateur (ham) radio license, callsign KJ6LNG, in November 2010. Dvorak was on the start-up team for CNET Networks, appearing on the television show CNET Central. He also hosted a radio show called Real Computing on NPR, as well as a television show on TechTV (formerly ZDTV) called Silicon Spin. He now appears on Marketwatch TV and is a regular panelist on This Week in Tech, a podcast audio and now video program hosted by Leo Laporte and featuring other former TechTV personalities such as Patrick Norton, Kevin Rose, and Robert Heron. As of December 2005, that “TWiTcast” regularly ranks among the top 5 at Apple’s iTunes Music Store. Dvorak also participated in the only Triangulation podcast, a similar co-hosted technology discussion program. In March 2006, Dvorak started a new show called CrankyGeeks in which he led a rotating panel of “cranky” tech gurus in discussions of technology news stories of the week. The last episode (No. 237) aired on September 22, 2010. Mevio hired Dvorak as Vice President & Managing Editor for a new Mevio TECH channel in 2007. He manages content from existing Mevio tech programming as well as hosts the show, “Tech5”, where Dvorak discusses the day’s tech news in approximately 5 minutes. Dvorak also co-hosts a podcast with Mevio co-founder Adam Curry called No Agenda. The show is a free flowing conversation about the week’s news, happenings in the lives of the hosts and their families, and restaurant reviews from the dinners John and Adam have together when they are in the same city (usually San Francisco). Adam usually has more outlandish opinions of the week’s news or world events while Dvorak plays the straight man in the dialogue.

Computer Nerd, Internet Nerd, Technology Nerd

Evan Williams (American internet entrepreneur) was born on March 31, 1972

Evan Williams is an American entrepreneur who has founded several Internet companies. Two of the internet’s top ten websites have been created by Evan Williams’ companies: Blogger, weblog-authoring software of Pyra Labs, and Twitter, where he was previously CEO. Evan Williams and Meg Hourihan co-founded Pyra Labs to make project management software. A note-taking feature spun off as Blogger, one of the first web applications for creating and managing weblogs. Williams invented the term “blogger” and was instrumental in the popularization of the term “blog”. Pyra survived the departure of Hourihan and other employees, and was eventually acquired by Google on February 13, 2003. In 2003, Williams was named to the MIT Technology Review TR100 as one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35. In 2004, he was named one of PC Magazine’s “People of the Year”, along with Hourihan and Paul Bausch for their work on Blogger.

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.

Technology Nerd, Writer Nerd

David Pogue (technology writer and commentator) was born on March 9, 1963

David Pogue is an American technology writer, technology columnist and commentator. He is a personal technology columnist for the New York Times, an Emmy-winning tech correspondent for CBS News Sunday Morning, and weekly tech correspondent for CNBC. He has written or co-written seven books in the For Dummies series (including Macintosh computers, magic, opera, and classical music); in 1999, he launched his own series of computer how-to books, called the Missing Manual series, which now includes over 100 titles covering a variety of personal computer operating systems and applications. In 2009, David wrote with collaboration from around 500,000 Twitter followers, “The World According to Twitter”; a book in which he publishes daily questions ‘tweeted’, and includes the best responses from a selection of his followers. In 2005, Pogue was the subject of a conflict-of-interest controversy. In a New York Times review of a hard drive recovery service, Pogue noted that the service, which can cost from $500 to $2,700, was provided at no charge for the purposes of the review; but when describing the service for National Public Radio’s Morning Edition program on September 12, 2005, he failed to mention this. NPR’s Vice President of News Bill Marimow later stated that NPR should have either not aired the review or paid for the services itself. Ultimately, the Times paid for the service. Also called into question was Pogue’s impartiality on reviews of products for which he had authored a Missing Manual book. This controversy necessitated a response from Clark Hoyt, the Times’ Public Editor on Pogue’s role as a freelance journalist with external obligations. In an op-ed piece, Hoyt wrote “His multiple interests and loyalties raise interesting ethical issues in this new age when individual journalists can become brands of their own, stars who seem to transcend the old rules that sharply limited outside activity and demanded an overriding obligation to The Times and its readers.” Of three ethicists consulted, each agreed Pogue’s position created a “clear conflict of interest” and placed the paper on “tricky ethical terrain.” In response, Pogue pledged to be more open with his conflicts of interest, and while he initially claimed that because he is not a journalist he is not bound by journalistic ethics, he soon recanted and agreed to offer a full “fanboy disclosure” on his website.

Computer Nerd, Technology Nerd

Howard Aiken (computer pioneer) was born on March 8, 1900

Howard Hathaway Aiken was a pioneer in computing, being the original conceptual designer behind IBM’s Harvard Mark I computer. Aiken studied at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and later obtained his Ph.D. in physics at Harvard University in 1939. During this time, he encountered differential equations that he could only solve numerically. He envisioned an electro-mechanical computing device that could do much of the tedious work for him. This computer was originally called the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (ASCC) and later renamed Harvard Mark I. With engineering, construction, and funding from IBM, the machine was completed and installed at Harvard in February, 1944. Grace Hopper joined the project in July of that year. In 1947, Aiken completed his work on the Harvard Mark II computer. He continued his work on the Mark III and the Harvard Mark IV. The Mark III used some electronic components and the Mark IV was all-electronic. The Mark III and Mark IV used magnetic drum memory and the Mark IV also had magnetic core memory.

Computer Nerd, Internet Nerd, Technology Nerd

Kevin Rose (American Internet entrepreneur) was born on February 21, 1977

Kevin Rose is an American Internet entrepreneur who co-founded Revision3, Digg, Pownce, and Milk. He also served as production assistant and co-host at TechTV’s The Screen Savers. He is currently a venture partner at Google. Rose was hired as a production assistant for The Screen Savers. He began appearing on-air in the “Dark Tip” segments and on Unscrewed with Martin Sargent, where he provided information on developing computing activities. He became a regular co-host when Leo Laporte left TechTV on March 31, 2004. On March 25, 2004, Comcast’s G4 gaming channel announced a merger with TechTV, which resulted in a round of layoffs. Rose moved to Los Angeles to stay with G4. On May 22, 2005, Rose reached an agreement with G4 that released him from his contract and went on to create Systm and later, Revision3, where he co-hosted Diggnation alongside Alex Albrecht for 6 years.