Early career

I’ve been involved in technology innovation all my life. Before I started starting companies, I was a hands-on software and silicon engineer in other people’s startups in Cambridge and Oxford and then for six years in Silicon Valley:

Open ATI Website

Engineering Manager Chromatic Research, Sunnyvale, California (bought by ATI, which was bought by AMD) 1995-1998

Chromatic designed and brought to market the Mpact™ VLIW SIMD media-processor – an IC of similar scale and complexity to Intel’s Pentium. An awesome, wonderful, and yes, somewhat hubristic enterprise. Founded by Mike Farmwald (who had cofounded MIPS Rambus) Chromatic world-firsts included executing all PC media functions in software, including 2D & 3D graphics, videoconferencing, V34 modem, DVD decode and audio (in fact it was the first ever solution for playing-back DVDs on a PC). It required nearly 30 Windows drivers! It successfully shipped in major OEM PCs such as Gateway and Compaq, and then embarked on the even more ambitious goal of a quad-core (in 1998!) Intel-killer chip code-named Tapestry. Intel survives to this day. 

I joined and then managed the 15-people Audio Software team, developing algorithms and drivers, including advanced synthesis and 3D audio. I spoke at conferences. My focus was on recruitment, technical leadership, project management and architectural design for the next generation, in a company which grew to 300 people.  I spent a day a week in Redmond as the company’s Microsoft liaison. Our team included many wonderful world-class creative engineers, including Phil Wiser (who co-founded Liquid Audio and then became Sony’s CTO),  Avery Wang (the CCRMA alumnus who went on to design the music-fingerprinting algorithms that make Shazam‘s magic possible), and ex-Korg synth guru Joe Bryan. But perhaps the most surprising audio moment was when I discovered synth legend Tom Oberheim working quietly in our Documentation department.

Find out more about the Atari Jaguar 2

Senior Engineer  Atari, Sunnyvale, California 1994-1995

Creator of the world’s first 64-bit video games console, the Jaguar.

As part of the Advanced Technology Group, under games console guru John Mathieson, I contributed to the design of the two large ASICs which formed the heart of the  64-bit Jaguar2 game-console. We used Verilog/Synopsys tools, and I designed a Processor cache, Digital video encoder and CD-ROM interface. I also researched algorithmic texture generation and low-RAM architectures. It was the first time I’d worked in close proximity to games designers too, experiencing the frenetic, creative process of videogame production. Every now and then game gods such as the legendary Jeff Minter would pop down to show us their latest toys (e.g. his VLM videosynth), or ask how to squeeze a few more pixels per clock out of the blitter.

Open Euphonix Website

Engineering Manager Euphonix, Palo Alto, California 1992-1994

Innovative manufacturer of Digitally-controlled Audio Mixing Consoles, which went public in 1995.

Headhunted over to California to join this bold startup, I managed the Processing Systems group and oversaw the successful introduction of three major new product lines.

Open Solid State Logic website

Design Engineer, Solid State Logic, Oxford, UK 1988-1992

World-leader in professional audio mixing consoles.

Before the PC era, digital audio and video systems were big custom-designed computers, using the fastest military radar chips and special disk arrays. I designed major parts of the ScreenSound Digital Audio Editor and Scenaria Digital Post-Production Mixer. Wrote software for kernel, system, applications and GUI. Designed hardware, including digital audio standards converter (polyphase FIR), MIDAS ASIC for digital audio routing and mixing, 40MHz 68030 CPU card, 40Mbyte/sec three-drive SCSI card.

Open Arcom website

Design Engineer, Arcom Control Systems Ltd., Cambridge, UK 1984

Manufacturer of computer boards for industrial and scientific control and monitoring.

Before University, I worked as Design Engineer here for a year, designing several of the world’s first STE bus control boards, which had major distribution (e.g. RS and Farnell catalogues), helping drive the company’s early growth. The company was about 15 people when I joined, and double the size a year later. I didn’t realise it at the time, but it was my first startup experience and I got a taste for it.

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