Innovator and Early Adopter

I often act as a change agent, scouting out new technologies, methods and relationships.  Sometimes as a disruptive early adopter, and at other times as the police, raising the alarm when projects have gone too far off-the-rails. Some have said I have a talent for making practical and usually successful choices based on experience and an in-depth and hands-on understanding of new technologies and their benefits.

Here are a few examples of new approaches I have championed over the years, and then demonstrated, often in the face of strong legacy opposition at the time:

  • 1979: Early adopter of “connectionless” TCP/IP networks because I found my efforts building end-to-end reliable networks using connection oriented protocols (X.25) were unworkable.
  • 1980: As a participant in IEEE 802, I proselytized for the adoption of Ethernet CSMA/CD by local computer companies like Network Systems and CDC by carrying a stack of DIX Blue Books handed to me by Bob Metcalfe to lunches with several engineering V.P.s I knew.
  • 1984: Successfully pioneered the use of TCP/IP on supercomputers by refusing to succumb to heavy commercial pressure for legacy RJE methods.
  • 1990: Blocked the use of  legacy DEC and IBM proprietary terminal oriented systems for UofM campus information system, and promoted the use of lightweight transaction oriented TCP/IP protocols, which became an important enabler for the creation of the first Internet browser, Gopher.
  • 1997: Promoted the use of DVB saturated transponder operation over SCPC multi-carrier back-off for international Internet satellite services.
  • 2005: Pushed for NAL (a.k.a. fragmented MP4) based video transmission methods and abandonment of MPEG-2 TS based architectures years in advance of DASH.
  • 2009: Argued that video was becoming an extension of the web (a.k.a. HTML-5 video extensions), against strong opposition from legacy players such as Microsoft’s Mediaroom, whose architectures were based on MPEG-TS with its closed proprietary app ecosystem.

Not to mention many other “skunk works” efforts where I felt it was folly to wait even though there was significant opposition:

  • 1977: Adopted the Unix operating system over vendor software for Lunar Sample Analysis laboratory instrument control at UofM.
  • 1982: Demonstrated Xerox Parc Alto concepts of object oriented programming, bitmap display, and the mouse, leveraging contacts from Stanford, and the early acquisition of Sun Microsystems (s/n 128) system(s).
  • 1985: Picked the locks and broke into UofM steam tunnel system with a group of high energy physicists to pull several KM of fiber for access to our new $20M supercomputer.
  • 1985: Founded NSF Regional network MRNet, and  bamboozled UofM, ARPANet/NSFNet to transfer UofM Internet connection to it.
  • 2010: Demonstrated the use of low cost high density silicon based AVC video compression to enable adaptive rate video services.