Joe Koenig

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Joseph (Joe) Koenig
Joe Koenig.jpg
Born (1930-08-14) August 14, 1930 (age 87)
Dresden, Germany
Occupation Former Chairman, now retired, Electronics Workbench

Joseph (Joe) Koenig is a Canadian entrepreneur who was founder and president of Electronics Workbench. Koenig’s first company was Interactive Image Technologies in Toronto, Ontario, and specialized in producing educational movies and documentaries. When the government of Ontario needed an educational tool for teaching electronics in colleges, the company created an electronics circuit simulator called Electronics Workbench.

Early years[edit]

Joe Koenig emigrated to Canada from Germany with his family in 1937, when they fled Nazi Germany. They settled in 145-acre (0.59 km2) farm along the Grand River, outside what is now known as Cambridge, Ontario.

Koenig began his career as a filmmaker in 1956 at the National Film Board of Canada (NFB). He directed and produced dozens of films over his 14 1/2-year career at the NFB, including Cosmic Zoom, and The Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes.[1] Through his work as a director and producer, Koenig began experimenting with multimedia as an educational tool.

He left NFB in 1969 and with John Kemeny and George Kazender formed International Cinemedia Center where he produced films for Sesame Street and other educational clients in Canada and the United States. He relocated to Toronto in 1978 and transformed the company into Interactive Image Technologies in 1985, and began producing and distributing educational interactive videos. In 1992, the Ontario Government modified its high school curriculum to require the teaching of electronics. A Call for proposals to provide a simulation software package to meet the required learning outcomes was issued, and Koenig’s company was awarded the contract.

In 1995, Koenig became embroiled in a copyright lawsuit that gained international attention.[2] He sued the operator of a website that distributed illegal copies of his software through a bulletin-board and was successful in his lawsuit, which was filed in the UK.

One of the main challenges faced by early versions of Electronics Workbench, was the reluctance of educators to use simulation software as part of their electronics curriculum. In the early 1990s, there was considerable opposition among the electronics education community regarding the use of simulation software for the delivery of electronics curriculum. Many educators felt that a “hands on” methodology was the only valid method of learning electronics, and that simulation was a less-effective substitute.[3]

In 1996, Koenig approached best-selling author Dr. Colin Simpson, with the idea of integrating his simulation software with Simpson’s book Principles of Electronics and to offer an Electronics technician program where the entire learning outcomes for laboratory projects would be achieved with simulation. Simpson and Koenig embarked on a series of lectures, conference presentations and meetings with accrediting organizations throughout 1996, where they demonstrated that electronics simulation software could achieve identical results to laboratory experiments performed with real equipment.[4]

The partnership between Koenig and Simpson led to the creation of the Electronics Technician distance education program,which became the largest electronics program in the world. The program won a National Award in 1998,[5] and established Electronics Workbench as a leading educational resource.

In 1999, Koenig oversaw the acquisition of Ultimate Technology Inc. (UTI) located in the Netherlands. The integration of Multisim with UTI’s PCB layout and design, transformed Koenig’s company into a global Electronic Design Automation (EDA) company with an installed base of over 150,000 customers.[6]

Later Years[edit]

By the year 2000, Koenig’s vision of laboratory simulation software in every school was largely realized and he began to take a more passive role in the strategic planning and day-to-day operation of his company. He announced his retirement as Chief Executive Officer in 2003, and in 2005, Koenig sold his company to National Instruments.[7][8]