Don Lancaster

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Donald E. Lancaster is a prolific author, inventor, and microcomputer pioneer. He was a writer and engineer, often turned to in popularized electronics hobby of the 1970s in popular print magazines of the day. These included the most widely circulated one in the US: Popular Electronics. Other magazines in its genre and of the era include: Dr. Dobb's Journal, bu Jim Warren; 73 (magazine), and BYTE Magazine, initially published by the late Wayne Green; and HR magazine, published by Jim Fisk. A third party history of the era is Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution. He produced and documented hobby level projects which were documented and occasionally serialized in those magazine columns, developing a regular readership, similar to the pulp serials of the Second World War era.

The first major and very early project that sparked the notion that end users could make their own computer devices was his "TV Typewriter" dumb terminal project. It was a proof of concept, which was comprised largely of discrete components and early integrated circuits, pre-dating microprocessors or large-scale integration embedded controllers. See similarly in that era, the Homebrew Computer Club, His book on technical entrepreneurship The Incredible Secret Money Machine, and his companion work on and advocacy of early print-on-demand technology anticipate the Lulu (company) and Amazon print on demand businesses, based on end-author prepared PDF documents. Lulu also demonstrates the combined entrepreneur and technology inventor model, with its founder, Bob Young (businessman) having previously successfully started the Red Hat enterprise Open Source computer software distribution, entity.

Lancaster fulfilled orders for so-called 'dead tree' books with are now called print-on-demand technique for several books (without ISBN, because they were 'guerrilla' creations not amenable to the expense of purchasing a listing in 'Books In Print' -- the dominant catalog of the era). An interesting sidelight is that he used a hacker technique of re-purposing the game port of an Apple II to transfer PostScript code (a computing ancestor of PDFs) sent to a laser printer through a hacker technique of re-purposing the game port of an Apple II rather than, as was common at the time, a Macintosh running PageMaker. He helped design and manufacture the Apple I keyboard. He formerly held a radio amateur license (K3BYG).

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