Victor Poor

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Victor Poor
Victor Dale Poor

(1933-07-12)July 12, 1933
DiedAugust 17, 2012(2012-08-17) (aged 79)
Occupation Engineer, Inventor
Years active1952–2012
Employer United States Navy
Frederick Electronics
Known forCo-development of the microprocessor, ARCNET, APlink, Winlink
Home town Brevard County, Florida
Spouse(s)Florence Ann Poor
AwardsARRL President's Award

Victor "Vic" Poor (July 12, 1933 – August 17, 2012) was an American engineer and computer pioneer. At Computer Terminal Corporation (later renamed Datapoint Corporation), he co-created the architecture that was ultimately implemented in the first successful computer microprocessor, the Intel 8008. Subsequently, Computer Terminal Corporation created the first personal computer, the Datapoint 2200 programmable terminal.


Datapoint Corporation, originally known as Computer Terminal Corporation (CTC), was a computer company based in San Antonio, Texas, United States. Founded in July 1968 by Phil Ray and Gus Roche, its first products were, as the company's initial name suggests, computer terminals intended to replace Teletype machines connected to time sharing systems.

Intel 8008 byte-oriented microprocessor

The Intel 8008 is an early byte-oriented microprocessor designed and manufactured by Intel and introduced in April 1972. It is an 8-bit CPU with an external 14-bit address bus that could address 16 KB of memory. Originally known as the 1201, the chip was commissioned by Computer Terminal Corporation (CTC) to implement an instruction set of their design for their Datapoint 2200 programmable terminal. As the chip was delayed and did not meet CTC's performance goals, the 2200 ended up using CTC's own TTL-based CPU instead. An agreement permitted Intel to market the chip to other customers after Seiko expressed an interest in using it for a calculator.

Datapoint 2200

The Datapoint 2200 was a mass-produced programmable terminal, designed by Computer Terminal Corporation (CTC) founders Phil Ray and Gus Roche and announced by CTC in June 1970. It was presented by CTC simply as a versatile and cost-efficient terminal for connecting to a wide variety of mainframes by loading various terminal emulations from tape rather than being hardwired as most contemporary terminals, including their earlier Datapoint 3300. However, enterprising users in the business sector realized that this so-called "programmable terminal" was equipped to perform any task a simple computer could and exploited this fact by using their 2200s as standalone computer systems. Its industrial designer John "Jack" Frassanito has later claimed that Ray and Roche always intended the Datapoint 2200 to be a full-blown personal computer, but that they chose to keep quiet about this so as not to concern investors and others. Also significant is the fact that the terminal's multi-chip CPU (processor) became the basis of the x86 architecture used in the original IBM PC and its descendants.


Early life

Victor Dale Poor was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Pinckney Peyton Poor and Leona Lucille Poor (née Mallory). With a passion for radio, he built his own transceiver from collected discarded pieces, and qualified on amateur radio in 1951 (callsign W6JSO).

Los Angeles City in California

Los Angeles, officially the City of Los Angeles and often known by its initials L.A., is the most populous city in California, the second most populous city in the United States, after New York City, and the third most populous city in North America. With an estimated population of four million, Los Angeles is the cultural, financial, and commercial center of Southern California. The city is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity, Hollywood and the entertainment industry, and its sprawling metropolis. Los Angeles is the largest city on the West Coast of North America.

California State of the United States of America

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents, California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second and fifth most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

Amateur radio use of designated radio frequency spectra for purposes of non-commercial exchange of messages

Amateur radio, also known as ham radio, describes the use of radio frequency spectrum for purposes of non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, private recreation, radiosport, contesting, and emergency communication. The term "amateur" is used to specify "a duly authorised person interested in radioelectric practice with a purely personal aim and without pecuniary interest;" and to differentiate it from commercial broadcasting, public safety, or professional two-way radio services.

After high school, Poor joined the United States Navy. While attending electronics training at the Treasure Island Naval Base in 1952, he met his wife, Florence, in a church in San Francisco. [1] On completing his training the couple married in November 1952, and he was then assigned to Ford Island naval base, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. [1]

United States Navy Naval warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world and it has been estimated that in terms of tonnage of its active battle fleet alone, it is larger than the next 13 navies combined, which includes 11 U.S. allies or partner nations. with the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction. With 319,421 personnel on active duty and 99,616 in the Ready Reserve, the Navy is the third largest of the service branches. It has 282 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of March 2018, making it the second-largest air force in the world, after the United States Air Force.

San Francisco Consolidated city-county in California, US

San Francisco, officially the City and County of San Francisco, is a city in, and the cultural, commercial, and financial center of, Northern California. San Francisco is the 13th-most populous city in the United States, and the fourth-most populous in California, with 884,363 residents as of 2017. It covers an area of about 46.89 square miles (121.4 km2), mostly at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area, making it the second-most densely populated large US city, and the fifth-most densely populated U.S. county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs. San Francisco is also part of the fifth-most populous primary statistical area in the United States, the San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area.

Ford Island island in Honolulu County, Hawaii, United States of America

Ford Island is an islet in the center of Pearl Harbor, Oahu, in the U.S. state of Hawaii. It has been known as Rabbit Island, Marín's Island, and Little Goats Island, and its native Hawaiian name is Mokuʻumeʻume. The island had an area of 334 acres (135 ha) when it was surveyed in 1825, which was increased during the 1930s to 441 acres (178 ha) with fill dredged out of Pearl Harbor by the United States Navy to accommodate battleships.


On leaving the Navy in 1955, Poor joined the telecommunications technology team at Stromberg-Carlson in San Diego, California. Trained in computer programming, he wrote his first programme in 1956 for the UNIVAC 1103. [1] Recruited by Raytheon, the couple then moved to Massachusetts. Although Poor did not attend college, he took electronics training classes both in the Navy and at Raytheon. A quick learner, he soon knew more than his instructors and began teaching classes himself. [2]

Stromberg-Carlson was a telecommunications equipment and electronics manufacturing company in the United States. It was formed in 1894 as a partnership by Alfred Stromberg and Androv Carlson. It was one of five companies that controlled the national supply of telephone equipment until after World War II.


The UNIVAC 1103 or ERA 1103, a successor to the UNIVAC 1101, was a computer system designed by Engineering Research Associates and built by the Remington Rand corporation in October 1953. It was the first computer for which Seymour Cray was credited with design work.

Raytheon American defense contractor and industrial corporation

The Raytheon Company is a major U.S. defense contractor and industrial corporation with core manufacturing concentrations in weapons and military and commercial electronics. It was previously involved in corporate and special-mission aircraft until early 2007. Raytheon is the world's largest producer of guided missiles.

Poor then moved to Maryland to help form radio and telegraph equipment manufacturer Frederick Electronics. [1] Quickly made an executive, he developed the idea of adapting radioteletype (RTTY) machines to send data wirelessly. These were then sold to both the United States Army and later commercial media customers, such as the Associated Press, to send affiliated news reports as data around the world. [3]

Maryland State of the United States of America

Maryland is a state in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east. The state's largest city is Baltimore, and its capital is Annapolis. Among its occasional nicknames are Old Line State, the Free State, and the Chesapeake Bay State. It is named after the English queen Henrietta Maria, known in England as Queen Mary.


Radioteletype (RTTY) is a telecommunications system consisting originally of two or more electromechanical teleprinters in different locations connected by radio rather than a wired link. These machines were superseded by personal computers (PCs) running software to emulate teleprinters. Radioteletype evolved from earlier landline teleprinter operations that began in the mid-1800s. The US Navy Department successfully tested printing telegraphy between an airplane and ground radio station in 1922. Later that year, the Radio Corporation of America successfully tested printing telegraphy via their Chatham, Massachusetts, radio station to the R.M.S. Majestic. Commercial RTTY systems were in active service between San Francisco and Honolulu as early as April 1932 and between San Francisco and New York City by 1934. The US military used radioteletype in the 1930s and expanded this usage during World War II. From the 1980s, teleprinters were replaced by computers running teleprinter emulation software.

United States Army Land warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution. As the oldest and most senior branch of the U.S. military in order of precedence, the modern U.S. Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed to fight the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)—before the United States of America was established as a country. After the Revolutionary War, the Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784 to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The United States Army considers itself descended from the Continental Army, and dates its institutional inception from the origin of that armed force in 1775.

Computer engineering

Poor continued his research and development, trying to develop a method for sending photographs and pictures wirelessly. In 1969 while working his notice period from Frederick Electronics, [1] during the Thanksgiving holiday, Poor and fellow amateur radio colleague Harry Pyle produced the underlying architecture of the modern microprocessor on a living room floor. They then asked fellow radio amateur Jonathan Schmidt to write the accompanying communications software. Pitching the idea to both Texas Instruments and Intel, the partnership developed the Intel 8008, the forerunner of the microprocessor chips found in today's personal and computing devices. [1] [3] [4] [5] [6]

Thanksgiving holiday in North America

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated on various dates in Canada, the United States, some of the Caribbean islands, and Liberia. It began as a day of giving thanks and sacrifice for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. Similarly named festival holidays occur in Germany and Japan. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States, and around the same part of the year in other places. Although Thanksgiving has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, it has long been celebrated as a secular holiday as well.

Texas Instruments American company that designs and makes semiconductors

Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) is an American technology company that designs and manufactures semiconductors and various integrated circuits, which it sells to electronics designers and manufacturers globally. Its headquarters are in Dallas, Texas, United States. TI is one of the top ten semiconductor companies worldwide, based on sales volume. Texas Instruments's focus is on developing analog chips and embedded processors, which accounts for more than 80% of their revenue. TI also produces TI digital light processing (DLP) technology and education technology products including calculators, microcontrollers and multi-core processors. To date, TI has more than 43,000 patents worldwide.

In late 1969, Poor joined start-up computer company Computer Terminal Corporation as Technical Director in San Antonio, Texas. Founded by two former NASA engineers, Phil Ray and Gus Roche, they asked him to approach Intel to see how much of his design could fit onto a computer chip. Pitching a $100,000 proposal to place the architecture onto silicon and into production, the project became the Intel 8008 master chip, the world’s first 8-bit microprocessor. [7] Poor and Pyle then developed the instruction set architecture which enabled Ray and Roche to design and develop the mass-produced programmable Datapoint 2200 computer terminal. [8] As a result of the success of this product, the company changed its name to Datapoint. Datapoint remained one generation ahead of Intel until the Intel 80286.

Overseeing the development of ARCNET by lead ARCNET architect John Murphy, [9] an early local area network, Poor stayed with Datapoint until 1984, after they had lost their technical microchip lead to IBM and been bought out by corporate raiders. [1] He "retired" with his wife on the profits that he had made from the 15 year growth in Datapoint stock, deciding to go sailing. After sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, they spent the first summer in the Mediterranean on the 50 foot (15 m) Gulfstar yacht Elsinore, named after the location of the castle in Shakespeare’s "Hamlet". [1]

Amateur radio

The challenges of communicating by radio while at sea (callsign W5SMM) [3] led Poor to develop software that integrates Internet with amateur radio to store and forward messages; this system is today part of a major amateur-supported emergency communications network. [10] While sailing, Poor wanted a better way to communicate with those around him. This led to him developing, in 1985, the original computer program, APlink (AMTOR-Packet Link). Then as part of a group of radio amateurs, acting as the architect Poor helped to developed what became Winlink. [3] Both of these systems would automatically store and forward messages between amateur radio stations. [1] With no one in the group able to take royalties due to the amateur radio regulations, [1] the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) later adopted APlink for their National Traffic System (NTS) digital messages. [3] The system was widely adopted by radio amateurs, the United States military, and state and local emergency preparedness teams. It was credited with being one of the few communications systems that worked in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. [2]


In 1994, Poor was recruited as the President of Airnet, a spinoff from Harris Corporation, based in Melbourne, Florida. Proposing to his wife that they would soon be home in San Antonio, at the end of his 2.5 year tenure they retired to Brevard County, Florida instead. [1]

On December 8, 2004, Gardner Hendrie and Len Shustek of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, recorded "The Oral History of Victor Poor." [11]

Poor's lifelong hobbies were operating amateur radio, flying airplanes, and sailing boats. Poor and his wife Florence loved to sail. Their earliest cruises were out of Corpus Christi, Texas, and included adventures to the Yucatán peninsula. In 1984, the couple sailed their 50-ft sloop Elsinore across the Atlantic Ocean and toured the western Mediterranean Sea; between 1988 and 1990, they lived aboard a 37-ft catamaran Aransas Light and explored the coastlines of the Gulf of Mexico, the Bahamas, and the eastern seaboard as far north as Chesapeake Bay; between 1990 and 1994 they moved to a Diesel-powered 50-ft trawler Excalibur to sightsee along the Inland Waterway between Seattle, Washington, and Skagway, Alaska. [10]

In May 2012, Poor was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. [1] On July 9, Poor was awarded the ARRL President's Award at the Platinum Coast Amateur Radio Society annual meeting, for a lifetime of achievements. [12] There have been only a handful of recipients of this prestigious award. [3]

Poor died early on the morning of August 17, 2012, at William Childs Hospice House in Palm Bay, Florida. [13]

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  4. Port, Otis (9 December 1996). "Whose Brainchild Was The Brain Chip?". Business Week Archives. Archived from the original on 2006-08-27. Retrieved 2012-08-18.
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  6. Thomson, Iain. "Processor pioneer Victor Poor dies of cancer at 79: Modest designer of Intel's first integrated processors". The Register. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
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  10. 1 2 "Obituary". Florida Today. 19 August 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
  11. "Oral History of Victor Poor" (PDF). Computer History Museum. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
  12. "Vic Poor, W5SMM, Receives ARRL President's Award". ARRL, The National Association for Amateur Radio. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
  13. "Victor Poor, reluctant visionary, dies at 79". August 17, 2012. Retrieved August 17, 2012.