Category Archives: #provinggroundbook

Engineers with Attitude!

TAS co-founders

Engineers with attitude, together again (l-r): TAS co-founders David Tarver, Steve Moore, Charles Simmons

Friday, July 21 was a pretty cool day in Detroit. For the first time ever, I and the two co-founders of Telecom Analysis Systems, Steve Moore and Charles Simmons, got together to discuss our experience. Steve traveled to Detroit from his home in North Carolina, and Charles came out from New Jersey, which is where our company was located. The event was called “Candid Conversations and Code,” and it was co-sponsored by TechTown Detroit and the Michigan Science Center. Big kudos to Marlin Williams of TechTown, and to Dr. Tonya Matthews of the Detroit Science Center, for putting this together. 

Hard to believe it’s been more than thirty years since I and my buddies left secure and prestigious jobs at AT&T Bell Laboratories to start a tech company in the basement of my Little Silver, New Jersey home. The fact that we did so, in the immediate aftermath of the civil rights movement when every career achievement seemed like a “first,” is something that we are forever proud of and grateful for. It definitely wasn’t easy, but as Steve used to always say, “If it was easy, everybody would be doing it!”

Kudos and thanks to my co-founders for making the trek to Detroit. In addition to the main program at Michigan Science Center, we did a number of media spots, and the whole event was recorded for later broadcast. When all of this media becomes available, we will post it on this blog. In the meantime, here is a short spot that I recorded for NPR Michigan Radio in connection with the event.

 

 

 

 

Voices: Entrepreneur and engineer on what happens when your dream dies

I HATE failure with a passion, but I must admit that I have experienced it. In fact, you could say that failure is a necessary evil on the road to success. So when Model D asked me to recount one of my most painful failures, I just had to share. I hope you find my experience enlightening.

This story is excerpted and adapted from my book, “Proving Ground: A Memoir.”

W. David Tarver thought he had invented a new and improved synthesizer beloved by Stevie Wonder. But neither of those things were true. In this personal essay, he talks about coming to grips with a failed invention he spent years perfecting.

Source: Voices: Entrepreneur and engineer on what happens when your dream dies

Will It Explode? (Part 2)

In Part 1, I explained that my daughter Nadiyah and I were going to power up my very first personal computer, a machine that I built from a kit way back in 1983.  It hasn’t been turned on since the late eighties, so the object of our little lab session is to answer the question: will it still work after all these years, or will it explode? In this episode, Part 2, we finally plug the little monster in and find out.  Wish us luck!

Please forgive the video framing, which chops off about half of my big head!

Black History Month is About MAKING History, Not Just Studying History

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass, circa 1870

As a young person coming of age in the 1960s, I learned a smattering of black history in school. We studied, however briefly, black icons like Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Harriet Tubman, and George Washington Carver. Though clearly important, these people often seemed frozen in amber, because my contemporaries and I were witnessing new history being made in the black struggle every year. The tumultuous 1960s inspired us to believe that we could make history, not merely study it. This year we find ourselves celebrating some heretofore unknown history makers: the women whose story is told in the movie Hidden Figures. We examine anew the themes of the 20th century black liberation struggle expressed by James Baldwin and retold in the movie I am Not your Negro. These stories inspire us, but they also challenge us to add our own chapters to the black history narrative.

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Will It Explode? (Part 1)

In early 1983, thirty-four years ago, I got my first “serious” personal computer, a Heathkit H-89 all-in-one machine. I built it from scratch, which means that I soldered all the components on the circuit boards and assembled all of the subsystems into the completed unit. I bought the computer to help with the business I intended to start – Telecom Analysis Systems, Inc. (TAS).  It was the tool I used to write and edit our business plan, and to develop and test the hardware and firmware of our product prototypes. In those days, the H-89 worked like a charm, and never gave me or my co-founders, Steve Moore and Charles Simmons, a bit of trouble.

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Unexpected Reunion with a Mentor

Jim Spaniola and me at French Laundry Fenton, more than 45 years after our time in the Ceramic Circuits Lab.

More than forty-five years ago, I began my college education at General Motors Institute (now Kettering University) in Flint, Michigan. This was back in Flint’s glory days, when world-class industrial production as well as ground-breaking research took place right in the midst of the city. My co-op sponsor was the AC Spark Plug Division of General Motors. My first assignment at AC was in the Engineering Research Center, which was located at the corner of Averill Avenue and Davison Road. I felt lucky and excited to have what seemed like a plum first assignment.

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2016: A Personal Pictorial Review

2016: Another Year in the Can

It is hard to find the words to describe all that has transpired in 2016. I have so much to say, but where shall I begin? In many ways, for me and my family, 2016 brought many new accomplishments and blessings, but as we exit the year, I feel an enormous sense of foreboding and concern. I’ll have more to say about that later, in a different post.

I admire my friends who have written eloquent essays and family updates at the end of each year.  I can’t match what they have done, so I’ve decided to share some pictures and just a few words to capture some of the highlights of my life in 2016. If you were connected to any of these happenings in any way, I thank you for sharing the journey.  Here we go…

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2015: A Year of Anniversaries

2015 was a year of anniversaries – some happy, some sad, some bittersweet. As each anniversary came and went this year, I made a mental note, but didn’t otherwise recognize it. Doing so distracted me from the flow of daily events, and besides that, it made me feel old. However, sitting here on the eve of the eve of a new year, I feel like collecting and recognizing these anniversaries. If you were a part of any of them, you know how special they were. Continue reading