Ketan and Joe

Ketan Kothari and Joe Barrus

Ten years ago my friend Bart Pisha loaned me his AlphaSmart keyboard because he thought that both the tool was interesting and that the company was also interesting.

A few years before that, while working at Apple, the two guys above came up with an idea for a simple keyboard. Apple wasn’t interested (they went with the failed Newton) and so these two guys started their own company: Intelligent Peripheral Devices.

I got my first AlphaSmart in the first year the company sold them and was on the phone with Joe (above) to get help in pulling the ROM numerous times to update the firmware.

I’ve since become friends with Ketan, his brother Manish, Joe, and many of the other people at the renamed AlphaSmart, Inc. and when they chose an advisory board (in year 2) I was asked to serve on it which I have since.

I also co-run their online Community Center and have helped with their web site in the past.

Today they may have an IPO which is very exciting news. Mostly because this is the first company I have been involved with from just after “garage” to public offering. It will be an interesting day and rest of week.

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