Bill Grace

"Turning Practical Science into Commercially Viable Products"

   
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Abstract

Bill Grace graduated from M.I.T. with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1976. He then entered the graduate program at U.C. Berkeley graduating in 1977 with a Master of Science in Computer Science.

Recruited from school by Hewlett Packard Company, Bill worked at the Corvallis, Oregon division developing the HP-41C Handheld Calculator and contributing to the marketing program for the HP-85 Desktop Calculator.

Leaving Hewlett Packard, Bill worked as an independent consultant and then as a Design Engineer for a small terminal emulation software company. When that company was sold to a Canadian competitor, Bill co-founded Eversys Corporation where he designed and manufactured communications servers and rack mount computer products through 2000.

From 2000 through 2004 Bill designed and manufactured microcontroller based subsystems for several industrial clients. From 2005 through 2013 Bill worked on the design and prototyping of a medical diagnostic device involving early detection of age-related Macular Degeneration.

Presently Bill is exploring interest and areas made accessible by the continuing growth of the internet and is endeavoring to develop ways to enhance the prospects of young peoples' success in technical education and growth.

 

Biography

Student

Bill attended college from January 1971 through December 1977. Following two and a half years at College of Marin in Kentfield, California Bill transferred to M.I.T. in Cambridge, Massachusetts where he was awarded a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in June 1976.

While attending M.I.T. Bill built a number of small computers including one of the first personal computers ("Altair 8800"). During this time Bill became adept at mixing the elements of analog and digital computer circuitry to accomplish useful connections of computing power to the physical world for automation and measurement purposes.

Returning to the San Francisco bay area Bill entered the University of California's College of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science on the Berkeley campus and was awarded the degree of Master of Science in Computer Science. Bill specialized in synchronous digital processing while at Berkeley and created an early virtual reality stereo graphics display system as his thesis project for the Master's degree.

Design Engineer

Bill joined Hewlett Packard Company as a Design Engineer at the Corvallis, Oregon division and worked there as part of the team developing the new HP-41C hand held calculator product line. Having a background in both the mechanical and computer fields, Bill worked all the groups assigned to the product line including metal and plastic molded parts, microcode and the HP-IL Interface Loop datacomm system. To nail down an elusive keyboard problem Bill designed and built a synchronous digital analyser circuit to measure and characterize keyboard bounce and confirm that as the culprit. Once the problem was identified Bill worked with an electron microscope lab outside the company to analyze contamination on the gold plated key contacts and determine that the cause of the problem was a detergent being used in a wash cycle following wave soldering. Before leaving Hewlett Packard Bill worked with the marketing department to develop application program ROM's for the HP-85 Desktop Calculator.

After leaving Hewlett Packard in 1980 Bill worked as a consultant and contract engineer completing numerous projects involving system automation. One of these projects was the automation of a medical laboratory blood analysis system (both laboratory commercial products and factory sample production machinery) for International Diagnostic Technology in Santa Clara, California. Bill brought this system from a stalled development state to completion and the company was sold to Schlumberger. Another major project during this time was the automation of an early real estate video system. Bill wrote system code for automatic video camera operation in a roving van. He wrote a corresponding program to automatically operate in-studio video editing machines to condense and document the raw van footage into a single frame format suitable for multiple listing services.

At the end of 1985 Bill joined MasterLink in San Rafael, California as Design Engineer and Assembly Language Programmer. Bill designed several custom circuit boards to support the company's PC Terminal Emulator product and was part of the team developing the emulator software. MasterLink was sold to Computer Logics in Toronto, Ontario in early 1988.

Entrepreneur

In January 1989 Bill was a key member of the startup team founding Evergreen Systems in Novato, California. Evergreen Systems began as a small service company offering network training and installation as well as programming services. A large law firm client requested that Evergreen come up with a solution to their need for temporary satellite offices to have complete, full-speed access to the main office network resources. Bill and the Evergreen team devised a means of combining specialized automation programming with commercially available PC and terminal hardware to create a remote control access server. A magazine write up of this project generated a lot of interest and Evergreen Systems began producing similar systems for additional customers. Within a short time Evergreen had transformed from a small service company to a small manufacturing company.

Through the early 1990's Bill developed two more generations of remote access servers ("CAPserver" and "System 8000") for Evergreen Systems. Evergreen Systems changed its name to "Eversys Corporation" and grew to several million dollars in annual revenues.

Increasing growth of the internet coupled with improved performance of software-based remote access methods led to a decline in the competetive position of the Eversys product line during the late 1990's. Bill shrank and closed Eversys Corporation and went into contract development of microcontroller sub-systems for industrial customers. Most of this work involved designing and building custom circuits used by a large flight simulator manufacturer in Canada (CAE) and a company producing rack mount servers specially designed to be used in manufacturing environments where there would be little or no human supervision (Psion/Teklogix).

In 2002 Bill moved to Georgia for two years in support of a relocation his church group. While there he met John Edwards who was in the very early stages of starting a new product development company. Just as Bill was moving from Georgia to Washington state in late 2004, he and John and a third man in Alabama (Gregg Jackson) agreed to start working together to develop Dr. Jackson's recent innovation of a method for early detection of age-related Macular Degeneration. From 2005 until 2013 Bill worked on this project which is now a mature product called
"Adapt Dx". The company has grown under John Edward's leadership into "Maculogix" (maculogix.com) located in Hummelstown near Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Currently...

At present, Bill is located a bit north of Seattle, Washington and is exploring ways to pass on what he has learned about using and making machinery and automation to young people for whom such stuff will be more and more a part of life.

Ironically, after decades of floundering for words when asked, "Just what is it that you DO?", Bill has finally stumbled upon the term
"Mechatronics" which answers the question neatly since it means, according to the course description for MIT's on-line course for it:
"Mechatronics occupies the intersection of mechanical systems, electrical systems, control systems, and computers."

Boy oh boy, Bill wishes he'd had THAT line handy when his mom used to say, "Tell me again just what it is you do? My friends ask me about it and I'm never quite sure what to say."

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