Philippe Kahn

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Not to be confused with Hong Kong businessman Phillip Khan.
Philippe Kahn
Philippe Kahn.JPG
Born (1952-03-16) March 16, 1952 (age 62)[1][2][3]
Paris, France
Occupation Inventor, Entrepreneur

Philippe Kahn (born March 16, 1952)[4] is a technology innovator and entrepreneur, credited with creating the first camera phone solution sharing pictures instantly on public networks.[5] Kahn's publicly transmitted birth-picture of his daughter of June 11, 1997 is the first known camera phone photo. Kahn is also a pioneer for wearable technology IP.[6] Kahn has founded three technology companies: Fullpower Technologies, LightSurf Technologies, and Starfish Software. He was also an early employee and later owner of Borland. Kahn is the author of several dozen technology patents covering wearable, eyewear, smartphone, mobile, imaging, wireless, synchronization, medical technologies.[7]

Early life and education[edit]

Kahn grew up in Paris, France. He was born to Jewish immigrants of modest means. His mother was an Auschwitz survivor, violinist and lieutenant in the French resistance. His father was a self-educated mechanical engineer with a Socialist bent.[8]

Kahn was educated in mathematics at ETH Zurich, Switzerland (Swiss Federal Polytechnic Institute), on a full scholarship and University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, France. He received a masters in mathematics. He also received a masters in musicology composition and classical flute performance at the Zurich Music Conservatory in Switzerland. As a student, Kahn developed software for the MICRAL, the earliest non-kit personal computer based on a microprocessor. The MICRAL is now credited by the Computer History Museum as the first ever microprocessor-based personal computer.

Personal life[edit]

Kahn is married to Sonia Lee, who co-founded Fullpower Technologies, LightSurf and Starfish Software, and with whom he has a daughter. Kahn has three other children from a prior marriage.

Gay rights advocacy[edit]

Under Kahn's direction, Borland became the first software company to offer domestic partners full benefits and a pioneer for gay rights in Silicon Valley. Kahn was a key speaker at the pivotal Gay Rights conference on the Apple campus on October 19, 1993.[9]


Philippe Kahn Working on the first camera-phones
June 11th, 1997, Santa Cruz, CA: Image taken by Philippe Kahn after his daughter's birth.
July 1st, 2010, Double Jeopardy Question

Kahn has founded four software companies: Fullpower Technologies, founded in 2003, LightSurf Technologies, founded in 1998 (acquired by VeriSign in 2005), Starfish Software, founded in 1994 (acquired by Motorola in 1998), and Borland, founded in 1982 (acquired by Micro Focus in 2009).

Borland (1982–1994) compilers and tools[edit]

Kahn was CEO of Borland from 1982 to 1994,[10] when Borland was a competitor of Microsoft. Borland produced programming language compilers such as Turbo Pascal.[11] Kahn was President, CEO, and Chairman of Borland and, without venture capital, took Borland from no revenues to a $500 million run-rate. Kahn and the Borland board came to a disagreement on how to focus the company and in January 1995, Kahn was forced by the board to resign from his position as CEO.[12] When Borland was acquired by Micro Focus on May 6, 2009, the San Jose Mercury News reported that Kahn "called the deal a 'great fit and synergism for both companies and excellent outcome for employees, customers and shareholders'".[13]

Starfish Software (1994–1998) wireless synchronization[edit]

Starfish Software was founded in 1994 by Philippe Kahn as a spin-off from the Simplify business unit from Borland and Kahn's severance from Borland. The founding vision of Starfish was "global synchronization and integration of wireless and wireline devices," which translated with the TrueSync platform to: "Enter or edit information anywhere, synchronization is automatic everywhere." Starfish developed much of the core IP for device synchronization, especially in the wireless industry. TrueSync was the first Over-The-Air (OTA) synchronization system. Starfish was successfully acquired by Motorola for $325 million in 1998.

LightSurf Technologies (1997–2005) camera-phone[edit]

Kahn founded LightSurf in 1998 shortly after he had created the first camera phone solution sharing pictures instantly on public networks in 1997.[14][15] The impetus for this invention was the birth of Kahn's daughter; he jury-rigged a mobile phone with a digital camera and sent off photos in real time.[16][17][18] LightSurf was formed to take advantage of the explosive convergence of wireless messaging technology, the Internet, and digital media.[19]

LightSurf's core technology, the LightSurf 6 Open Standards MMS Platform, was a suite of hosted and managed MMS services that allowed users to capture, view, annotate, and share multimedia messages with any handset or e-mail address, regardless of device, file type, or network operator.

LightSurf's products included the first mobile picture messaging solution in North America (GSM), the first mobile picture messaging solution on a GPRS carrier network, the first commercially deployed inter-carrier MMS solution in North America, the highest volume of picture and video messaging in North America and over 400 million media messages shared on Sprint’s network (powered by LightSurf).

In 2005, LightSurf was acquired by VeriSign For $300 million. Syniverse Technologies acquired Lightsurf from Verisign in 2009.

Fullpower Technologies (2003–present) wearable technology[edit]

Fullpower, founded in 2003 and focused on the convergence of life sciences, wireless technology, accelerometrics, nanotechnology and Microelectromechanical systems, is well known[citation needed] for its MotionX Technology Platform. Fullpower is a leader in Wearable Technology.[citation needed] The MotionX technology Platform powers solution such as Jawbone UP, Nike and others. As of November 2013, Fullpower has been awarded 33 issued US patents covering wearable technology, sensor fusion and motion processors.[20]

Because the iPhone from launch integrated a collection of sensors, Fullpower launched iPhone applications as a showcase and a validation of the MotionX Wearable technology platform. First introduced publicly with the launch of Apple's App Store in July 2008,[21] the MotionX Technology Platform provides the underlying Wearable technology for the leading Navigation and Fitness Applications on the App Store. These include:

  • Nike+ GPS, launched in September 2010, the leading fitness application on the iPhone and iPod Touch. MotionX provides the underlying technology for the Nike+ GPS Application. "We took great care in evaluating sensing technologies and found the MotionX Technology Platform to be superior," said Stefan Olander, Vice President of Digital Sport at Nike.[22]
  • MotionX-GPS Drive, launched in September 2009, the top-downloaded[citation needed] turn-by-turn navigation application for the iPhone.
  • MotionX-GPS, launched in October 2008, a multi-sport and navigation GPS application for the iPhone.
  • MotionX-24/7, launched in March 2012, MotionX's sleep and activity tracking and management solution.[vague]

The first wearable Sleep and Activity monitor based on the MotionX Wearable technology platform in the UP Band. In September 2011, the Jawbone UP band, a wrist-worn activity and sleep monitoring device powered by MotionX technology, was launched.

The MotionX-24/7 Engine is at the core of the Jawbone UP and the Nike solutions.

Sailing and sports[edit]

Kahn's focus on the environment and the outdoors lead him to the sport of sailing. Kahn's sailing team, Pegasus Racing, competes in many world championships each year around the world.[23] An offshore sailor with over 10 trans-Pacific crossings, Kahn holds the Transpac double handed record from San Francisco to Oahu, Hawaii.[24] Recent sailing achievements also include winning the double handed division of the 2009 Transpacific Yacht Race race from Los Angeles to Hawaii, and setting the Transpac record at 7 days, 19 hours, beating the previous time of 10 days, 4 hours.


  1. ^ Harry Henderson (2003). A to Z of computer scientists. Infobase Publishing. p. 127. ISBN 978-0-8160-4531-0. Retrieved January 14, 2012. 
  2. ^ Lewis, Peter H. (August 18, 1991). "The Executive Computer; Philippe Kahn of Borland, in His Own Words". The New York Times. Retrieved January 16, 2012. 
  3. ^ Parks, Bob (October 2000). "The Big Picture". Wired Magazine. Retrieved February 7, 2012. 
  4. ^ Darrow, Barbara (November 10, 1999). "Phillipe Kahn". CRN (Computer Reseller News). Retrieved February 19, 2012. 
  5. ^ iPhoneographers learn from the pros at 1197 conference.- By Alexandra Chang (Posted Monday, October 24, 2011, at 5:30 AM)
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Weber, Jonathan (February 23, 1992). "Kahn the Barbarian". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 7, 2012. 
  9. ^ Groves, Martha (October 19, 1993). "Advocates of Gay Rights Look to Technology to Further the Cause". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 6, 2012. 
  10. ^ Philippe Kahn (June 15, 2005). "Vision". Retrieved March 6, 2014. 
  11. ^ eWeek
  12. ^ Kellner, Krey, Jeffers, Parks
  13. ^ Jennifer Pittman (May 7, 2009). "Borland sells for $75M". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved September 29, 2012. 
  14. ^ Parks, Maney, Agger, Krey
  15. ^ Kanellos
  16. ^ Kahn, NPR interview
  17. ^ When camera phones attack.- By Michael Agger(Posted Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2007, at 6:21 PM ET)Slate Magazine
  18. ^ Robert Sullivan (2011). 100 Photographs That Changed The World. LIFE Books. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-60320-176-6. 
  19. ^ LightSurf Press Release
  20. ^ Darryl K. Taft (October 31, 20013). "Fullpower Awarded Key Patents for Wearable Technology". eWeek. Retrieved November 5, 2013.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  21. ^ Marketwire Press Release
  22. ^ Fullpower-MotionX Teams with Nike for Nike+ GPS
  23. ^ "Pegasus Racing". Retrieved September 29, 2012. 
  24. ^ Transpacific Yacht Race – The perfect ride? – By Kimball Livingston, 7:40 AM on Thu May 19, 2011

External links[edit]