Summary – Although majoring in pure physics in college, my first job was in applied physics (engineering) with a large multi-national corporation. Following that, I spent time in sales, then marketing, then marketing management and finally management of a strategic business planning group, all for the same corporation. Moving into small business, I bought and operated a beer distributorship for 12 years before selling it. While distributing (and perhaps drinking) beer, I founded Intelligent Computer Systems, Inc., which developed comprehensive business software and installed turnkey computer systems for distribution businesses. After 22 years, ICS was sold to the 3M Corporation. I am now retired and pursuing a backlog of personal projects. I have been a libertarian from a very early age (long before there was a Libertarian Party) and have more recently held various positions with the Pennsylvania and national Libertarian Parties. Occasionally, I also teach economics part time in 11th and 12th grades with the Junior Achievement program.
Moderate Level of Pertinent Professional Detail – My family moved to Lancaster, PA, when I was 6 years old. I learned that Lancaster had so-called “blue laws” which prohibited stores from opening on Sunday. I remember asking my parents why stores shouldn’t be able to open on Sunday if they wanted too and if some people wanted to shop on Sundays. Of course, there was no satisfactory answer. I can’t identify anything that lead to such an early leaning toward libertarian principle, but it persisted and developed.
I enjoyed primary and secondary school and especially took to all the STEM areas. I decided by fourth or fifth grade that physics is the fundamental study of the universe, so that obviously was what I wanted to do.
Like most “good parents,” mine strongly “encouraged” me to attend church/Sunday school for a period of six or seven years. Except for a few historical things, I never could see that the overall story was much different than the other childhood fairy tales I had heard. Lancaster is a super-strongly Christian area, so there is heavy peer pressure to buy into Christianity. This made me quite uncomfortable and caused me to re-examine the issue more than once. However, the stuff is simply unsubstantiated and there is no way to substantiate it. Faith and “the great leap of faith” that is required are not logical or rational by their very definition: “firm belief in something for which there is no proof” (Mirriam Webster). That’s inimical to my very core. I resent to this day being forced, as a part of school opening exercises, to read ten verses from the Bible to the class whenever my turn came.
Learning about this country’s founding fathers and its ground-breaking Declaration of Independence and Constitution helped clarify and firm up my libertarian philosophy.
Physics at Princeton was still the main interest, of course, but the glee club and upgrading our student-run FM station to 17,000 watts, the most powerful in New Jersey, were also great fun. In order to meet Princeton’s “liberal education” requirements, I took some sociology and a religious survey course. Especially the latter had unanticipated benefits. Reading and analyzing Hume, Kant, Neitzsche, Dewey, St. Thomas Aquinas, and others kindled a permanent interest in philosophy; as did an economics course switch on a bright light in that area.
One could devote a career to pure physics and possibly not have much demonstrable success. Deciding that I prefer my labor to produce tangible results within my lifetime, my first gainful employment was in engineering (applied physics). I spent five years with RCA designing television camera tubes. Since the burgeoning solid state revolution had not yet developed imaging capabilities, the job primarily involved making electrons do amazing tricks in a vacuum. The job was highly educational and fun. Using computers to calculate complex electron trajectories was a significant new capability, and writing computer software became a very strong interest.
I was offered a job selling industrial components, those that I had been engineering plus a lot more, including solid state devices. This seemed to be sinking to a new low (from pure physics), but the money was better and there was much greater opportunity for advancement. After some years in Chicago, IL, and Washington, DC, I learned that selling stuff was a more worthwhile function than I had ever thought.
Following sales, I took marketing, then marketing management positions, still with RCA and back in Lancaster. Of course, I learned that marketing was a much more interesting and worthwhile function than I had ever thought.
My final job with RCA was managing a strategic business planning group for the Solid State Division in Somerville, NJ. It was my most challenging and frustrating job. RCA was a truly great corporation run by a true visionary, General David Sarnoff. Without hesitation, he invested more than $150 million to develop color TV and bring it to market. Unfortunately, he made one big mistake: he paid no attention to developing a competent successor, then died in 1971. During 1976 and 1977, I made three presentations to RCA’s board of directors strongly urging that RCA develop and market a personal computer. After being patted on the head and told that it was a great proposal that needed “further study,” it was apparent to me that RCA’s management was no longer visionary or even very competent, and that RCA was headed for trouble. Of course, IBM introduced their personal computer in 1982, and as they say, the rest is history.
Disillusioned with RCA, I jumped on a uniquely good opportunity to buy a beer distributor and moved to Lancaster (for the third time) to run it. It became apparent that distributors could benefit greatly from computerization, but no affordable systems were available and the software for the costly systems that were available was not very good. In 1980, I set out to develop a computer system for my distributorship, with a plan to then sell it to others.
In 1981, Intelligent Computer Systems was incorporated. ICS developed, marketed, sold, installed and supported turnkey computer systems for a wide range of distribution businesses all over the US. The system scaled from small, affordable ones for the little guys up to large ones for billion-dollar businesses like Snapple. As of 2017, our second generation software, introduced in 1988, is still in use at approximately a hundred businesses.
After 22 years, ICS (then as a part of GBG) was sold to a division of the 3M Corporation and I retired about a year thereafter. This website deals with some of the projects I have pursued in retirement. In addition, I have been active with the Libertarian Party and occasionally teach 11th and 12th grade economics under Junior Achievement program.