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Edward M. Esber, Jr.
Born 1952
Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Edward M. Esber, Jr.

A personal computer pioneer who laid the foundation for a revolutionary industry. Esber is credited with being the marketing guru behind two of the personal computer industry’s best selling application programs at the dawn of the personal computer revolution; [VisiCalc] and [dBase]. Ed Esber convinced IBM Corporation to take microprocessors seriously, which led to the introduction of the IBM PC using an Intel Microprocessor. Esber later went on to pioneer the marketing of the first software that made buying a personal computer for business viable, VisiCalc. Esber later was the CEO of Ashton Tate, one of the three leading Personal Computer Software companies of the 1980s (along with Lotus and Microsoft). Then, Esber ran the [Creative Labs], the U.S. subsidiary of [Creative Technology]. He is or has sat on the boards of over 30 companies, public, private and educational. Ed Esber is now an Angel Investor investing in exciting new companies in Silicon Valley.


A native of Ohio, Edward M. Esber, Jr. graduated B.S. Computer Engineering degree form Case Institute of Technology (now [Case Western Reserve University]) in 1974. He later earned a M.S. Electrical Engineering from [Syracuse University] in 1976, He then went on to earn a Masters of Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School, in 1978.


Early Life[edit]

Esber was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the oldest of eight children and attended public schools in Parma, Ohio. During his undergraduate education, he was one of the primary authors and programmers of a Management Simulation Game used to teach marketing at colleges called IMPS (Industrial Marketing Plan Simulation).

Early Career[edit]

In 1974, Esber went to work for IBM Corporation, where he designed a floating point processor for an IBM minicomputer and worked on products in the Instrument Control Systems Division that included a Textile Color Analyzer and a Film Thickness Analyzer. He convinced IBM Corporation to take seriously the nascent microcomputer chips from Intel and Motorola. He was later tasked with creating and teaching a course to prepare IBM engineers to design with microprocessors. This seminal work led to IBM announcing and shipping the IBM Personal Computer based on an Intel microprocessor in the early 80s. During his career at IBM, he earned his M.S. Electrical Engineering from Syracuse University in 1976. In 1976 he left for [Harvard Business School]] and was tasked with preparing an exploratory report for IBM on the efficacy of controlling energy costs in the home with a personal computer. In 1978, Esber went to work for Texas Instruments in their Consumer Products Division in Lubbock,, Texas working in product marketing on Personal Computers.


In 1979, Dan Flystra recruited Esber to run worldwide sales and marketing for Personal Software (later renamed VisiCorp). Esber became the ninth employee and third shareholder. Esber launched VisiCalc as the first personal computer application software that made buying a personal computer for business viable. He pioneered the distribution and marketing of personal computer software as he and Visicorp launched the first product line of productivity software (VisiCalc, VisiWord, VisiFile, VisiPlot, VisiTrend and VisiDex), the first suite of office software (VisiPak) and the first WinTel graphical user interface for IBM compatible PCs (VisiON).

Ashton Tate[edit]

Mr. Esber took over Ashton Tate and made it one of the three leading personal computer software companies of its time (The 1980’s PC Software Oligopoly of Ashton Tate, Lotus and MicroSoft). He turned dBase into one of the longest running standards in the personal computer software industry and jointly introduced SQL Server with MicroSoft. During Esber’s term as CEO, sales grew from about $40M to $311M. Ashton Tate acquired several companies including Decision Resources, Forefront and InterBase and MultiMate, expanding it’s product line of office productivity products for the WinTel platform and introducing two of the most innovative products of their time; FullImpact and FullWrite for Apple Computer’s MacIntosh computers.

Creative Labs[edit]

When Mr. Esber joined Creative Labs, the company that brought sound (Sound Blaster) to personal computers, it was viewed as a "market laggard", the "current market share leader', not an innovator (MediaVision was viewed as the leader). Creative's intellectual property was not protected; its relations with Wall Street, the Press and its stockholders had deteriorated; it had few strategic alliances with industry players; there was no product marketing department; no product strategy; no chip strategy; and it had not created a long term strategic plan. Under Esber’s leadership and that of the founders, Creative Technology (parent company of Creative Labs), enjoyed a leading position in computer peripherals and upgrades with its product line of Integrated Multimedia technology.

Creative Insights[edit]

Founder of the first "Computer Toys Company", Creative Insights, Inc., and the "Toy Company of the Computer Age." A Computer Toy is a creative, compelling piece of hardware, which plugs into a standard multimedia personal computer and is aimed at a specific purpose, to be brought to life with equally compelling multimedia software, aimed at the same purpose.

Other startups[edit]

After Esber’s pioneering work in Personal Computer Software, Esber has been on the leading edge of the integration of computers and multimedia at Creative Labs, the integration of computers, toys and learning at Creative Insights, the integration of computers, communication and telephony at SoloPoint; the mobilization of email and internet access at Poqet Computer, portability of Personal Computers at Poqet Computer and tablet computing at Motion Computing.

The Angels Forum and The Halo Funds[edit]

Esber was a founding member in 1997 of The Angels Forum, a professional, silicon valley based group of angel investors. He also is a member of the management team of The Halo Funds, a venture capital fund focused on early stage, seed investments in medical devices, Web 2.0/SaaS, consumer/retail and green technology companies based in Silicon Valley.

Course Taught[edit]

Esber taught a course entitled “Starting and Running a Successful Startup” at the Weatherhead School of Management of Case Western Reserve University.

Honors and Awards[edit] 2001 Angel’s Annual Award: Internet/Software BusinessWeek "25 Executives to Watch,” April 15, 1988. Computer Reseller News 1985&1986, "Industry's 25 Most Influential Execs." Esquire Magazine 1986 Register Honoree, Business and Industry. So Ca Executive "The Southland's 100 Outstanding Leaders in 1986."


Esber currently sits on the boards of Quantum Corporation, Panterra Networks and is co-chair of the emeriti trustee committee of Case Western Reserve University. In the past Esber has served on the boards of Activision, Ashton Tate, SonicBlue. Pansophic Systems, Integrated Circuits System Technology and many private companies.

Personal life[edit]

Esber is married to Margaret (Peggy) Esber and resides in Los Altos Hills. He has three children.

External links[edit]

Ed Esber's Website [1] Quantum Corporation Website [2] Panterra Networks Website [3] The Angels Forum Website [4] The Halo Funds Website [5] Software History Museum Oral History [6]