10 Tech Pioneers: Where Are They Now?

These former technology luminaries have all taken different paths. How different? One's a country doctor, one's a budding movie mogul, and one teaches toddlers--and he's not even alive.

In 1991 Collins-Rector founded ISP Concentric Networks with Chad Shackley, whom he met on an Internet bulletin board. Collins-Rector was 31 at the time; Shackley was just 16. In 1996, the pair joined with 18-year-old actor Brock Pierce to launch Digital Entertainment Network, an ambitious attempt to create an Internet-based TV network for 14-to-24-year-olds. Despite burning through more than $75 million in venture capital, the only people DEN entertained were its employees, who enjoyed generous salaries and legendary parties.

In October 1999, the trio resigned from DEN after Collins-Rector was sued for allegedly having sex with a minor. The trio fled to Marbella, Spain, where they were arrested two years later for possession of child porn. Meanwhile, Collins-Rector was sued in absentia by former teenage male employees who claimed they had been lured to his mansion, drugged, and sexually abused.

Extradited to the United States in June 2004, Collins-Rector pled guilty to transporting minors across state lines for sex and paid a small fine. According to reports in the November 2007 issue of Radar Magazine, Collins-Rector is in London and may be a silent partner in Internet Gaming Entertainment, a site operated by DEN founder Brock Pierce that sells virtual weaponry to gamers on EverQuest and World of Warcraft. (IGE did not respond to requests for comment.)

The Third Apple: Ron Wayne

1976: Co-founder of Apple Computer

Now: Semi-retired engineering consultant

Ron Wayne started out by designing slot machines in Vegas, but his unwillingness to gamble may have ended up costing him billions. Wayne is the oft-forgotten third founder of Apple Computer, who hooked up with Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs when he and Jobs worked for Atari in the mid-1970s. Older by more than a decade, Wayne was brought in to act as a tie-breaker when the two Steves disagreed.

But as the three-man partnership slid further into debt, Wayne began to get cold feet. He had already started and lost his own engineering firm--Siand Engineering, a Las Vegas-based maker of gaming machine technology--and didn't have the stomach for another roller coaster ride. In April 1976, Wayne asked the Steves to buy out his 10 percent share in Apple for US$800. Afterward, Wayne worked for game companies and defense contractors, traded coins and stamps, and turned down several offers to return to Apple.

Now retired, the 73-year-old Wayne does consulting work, most recently building industrial models for cross-oceanic cabling equipment. In a phone interview, Wayne said he's one of a vanishing breed of engineers who did everything, from initial problem solving to drafting, model building, and final assembly.

"I want to be remembered as an anachronism, someone who did the whole thing from beginning to end instead of just one part of it," he says. But he'll likely be remembered for his short stint at Apple-- one of the few projects Wayne started but never finished.

"Socks"

1999: Mascot for Pets.com

Now: Pitch puppet

Some victims of the dot-com bust went to the dogs, but not Pets.com's famous sock puppet. After his masters imploded in the dot-com debacle, "Socks" was acquired by Hakan & Associates and 1-800 BarNone, a low-cost auto loan vendor, for US$125,000. Since then he's starred in commercials for Bar None and been hired to endorse Hasbro toys and Rawhide Chews.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Dan Tynan

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?