Jeri Ellsworth

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Jeri Ellsworth
You're one baaad cat.jpg
Jeri Ellsworth, 2008
Born 1974 (age 39–40)
Yamhill, Oregon
Nationality American
Occupation Inventor
Known for Entrepreneur and autodidact computer chip designer
Jeri Ellsworth stands in front of her store, Computers Made Easy, in December, 2000.

Jeri Ellsworth (born 1974) is an US entrepreneur and autodidactic computer chip designer and inventor. Currently the president of Technical Illusions, she became known in 2004 for creating a complete Commodore 64 system on a chip within a joystick, called C64 Direct-to-TV. That "computer in a joystick" could run 30 video games from the early 1980s, and was a very popular Christmas gift, at peak selling over 70,000 units in a single day via the QVC shopping channel.[1] Ellsworth currently lives in Seattle.[2]

Biography[edit]

Ellsworth was born in Yamhill, Oregon, and grew up in the town of Dallas, Oregon, where she was raised by her father, a local Mobil filling station owner. As a child, she persuaded her father to let her use a Commodore 64 computer which had been originally purchased for her brother. She taught herself to program by reading the C64's manuals. While at high school, she drove dirt-track race cars with her father, and then began designing new models in his workshop, eventually selling her own custom race cars. This allowed her to drop out of high school to continue the business.

In 1995, at the age of 21, she decided that she wanted to get away from the race car business,[3] and she and a friend started an early Intel 486-PC-based business, assembling and selling computers. When she and her partner later had a disagreement, Ellsworth opened a separate business in competition. This new business became a chain of four stores, "Computers Made Easy", selling computer equipment in towns in Oregon.[4] She ran that chain until selling it in 2000, at which point she moved to Walla Walla, Washington and attended Walla Walla College, studying circuit design for about a year. She dropped out due to a "cultural mismatch"; Ellsworth said that questioning professors' answers was frowned upon.[1]

In 2000, Ellsworth attended her first Commodore exposition, where she unveiled a prototype video expansion for the C64. This project later evolved to become the CommodoreOne, a.k.a. the C-One, and C64-DTV.

Ellsworth then began designing computer circuits that mimicked the behavior of her first computer, the Commodore 64. In 2002, she designed the chip used in the C-One[5] as an enhanced Commodore 64 which could also emulate other home computers of the early 1980s, including the VIC-20 and Sinclair ZX81. She and her fellow developer displayed the C-1 at a technology conference, which led to Ellsworth receiving a job offer from Mammoth Toys, which hired her to design the "computer in a chip" for the Commodore-emulating joystick. She began the project in June 2004, and had the project ready to ship by that Christmas. It sold over a half-million units, in the USA, Europe, and elsewhere.

Ellsworth is a pinball machine aficionado and owns over 60 full sized pinball arcade games.

On May 30, 2009, Ellsworth demonstrated her Home Chip Lab at Maker Faire Bay Area 2009.[6]

Ellsworth was named "MacGyver of the Day" on February 25, 2010 by Lifehacker.[7]

On December 3, 2010 she released information on how to build a TSA "naked" scanner using repurposed satellite antenna parts.[8]

Ellsworth has published numerous technical articles online regarding subjects as diverse as homemade semiconductors (2009), homemade electroluminescent (EL) displays (2010), EL phosphor manufacture from common ingredients and ways to make transparent EL backplanes without using expensive indium-tin-oxide coated glass.[9]

Ellsworth was a keynote speaker at the Embedded Systems Conference on May 5, 2011.

In early 2012 Ellsworth was hired by Valve Corporation (along with several other notable hardware hackers) to work on gaming hardware.[10] Ellsworth was fired the following year,[11] along with several other Valve employees.[12][13]

On May 18, 2013, Ellsworth announced that she had developed an augmented reality development system named castAR with fellow ex-Valve engineer Rick Johnson,[14] with the blessing of Valve's Gabe Newell.[15] and would be funding it via Kickstarter later in the year. Her start-up company, Technical Illusions, is developing castAR.[16]

Ellsworth later revealed she had been secretly working to make castAR have "true VR and true AR" in addition to the previously announced projected AR capabilities.[17]

The castAR Kickstarter,[18] launched on October 14, 2013, reached its goal of $400,000 in 56 hours and finished with $1.05 million, 263% of the original goal.[19]

Presentations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Markoff, John (December 20, 2004). "A Toy with a Story". New York Times. 
  2. ^ Ellsworth, Jeri (November 4, 2012). Short Circuits - One Bit ADC. 
  3. ^ "Jeri Ellsworth, self-taught engineer, talks about her career". youtube.com. 
  4. ^ Monahan, Matt (January 25, 2005). "Joy of electronics sticks with woman, sparking invention". Statesman Journal. Archived from the original on 2006-02-21. Retrieved 2011-03-22. 
  5. ^ "C-One website". C64upgra.de. Retrieved 2011-03-23. 
  6. ^ "Events filled with DIY projects, science, demos, recycling, entertainment, and fun". Makerfaire.com. Retrieved 2011-03-23. 
  7. ^ Torrone, Phil (February 25, 2010). "MacGyver of the Day: Electronics Hacker Jeri Ellsworth". Lifehacker.com. 
  8. ^ "Make Your Own TSA "Naked" Scanner". Hack a Day. December 3, 2010. Retrieved 2011-03-23. 
  9. ^ "Make: Online | Jeri Ellsworth turns an LCD into an EL display". Blog.makezine.com. June 11, 2010. Retrieved 2011-03-23. 
  10. ^ ""I'm working at Valve on nextgen gaming hardware" - Jeri Ellsworth". valvetime.net. 
  11. ^ https://twitter.com/jeriellsworth/status/301521067816669184
  12. ^ Gamasutra: Several out of work as Valve makes 'large decisions' about its future
  13. ^ Engadget: Valve's Gabe Newell on reported layoffs
  14. ^ How two Valve engineers walked away with the company's augmented reality glasses 
  15. ^ cast AR hands-on with Jeri Ellsworth at Maker Faire 2013 
  16. ^ Technical Illusions 
  17. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cc2NQVQK69A
  18. ^ http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/technicalillusions/castar-the-most-versatile-ar-and-vr-system
  19. ^ http://www.kicktraq.com/projects/technicalillusions/castar-the-most-versatile-ar-and-vr-system

External links[edit]