Tom Pittard      王建堂

My name is Tom Pittard and I've worked as a unit director, technology leader, senior engineering manager, software developer, and hardware engineer with some of the greatest technical and creative companies on the planet including Atari, Apple (10+ years), SRI International, RSA Security, and my own independent R&D in non-blocking message based systems.

I'm currently using tools from the "Reactive Programming" movement such as Scala, Akka, Hadoop, and Kafka to create a highly scalable, integrated, reusable infrastructure tailored for building and testing critical business and media solutions. I'm not entirely new to these ideas. Back in the mid-1990s I developed an object-oriented framework in C++ that used Hewett & Agha's Actor Model to coordinate distributed processing and 
asynchronous messages between "active objects". It was an early attempt at asynchronous communication between distributed object methods using "non-blocking sockets" wrapped in the abstraction of a "Service Access Point" base class. It was OK for the time, and it was used on high profile projects at SRI International and a few other companies. But these days (2017) I'm more excited by the recent progress that the Akka tools people from Typesafe/Lightbend have made in delivering a true Actor Model in a highly compact scalable architecture.

Here's a bit of my personal story:  
My initial formal education was as a professional artist working mostly in the medium of oil and canvas.  In my early 20s I established a professional art studio in Monterey California where my large expressionistic works were widely shown and became part of private collections in the US and Europe. I still paint a bit from time to time in hobby mode and you can see a small collection of the available prints on paper from my California Impressionist work here: www.etsy.com/shop/ImpressionsPittard.

In the late 1960s and early 70s I produced a series of Multimedia Theater and Video presentations including "Urban Mythology", an Emmy winning educational television show.

In the mid-1970s I returned to school and studied filmmaking at the University of California (UCSC). At UC Santa Cruz the filmmaking studios were in the same building as the computer science labs, and I spent a lot of late nights learning more about computers.  During this time I became interested in what was happening over the hill in Silicon Valley with the emerging computer game and graphics companies like Atari. I began to think about how digital technology might work as a sort of universal medium for all kinds of media from still images, sound, film and animation. After graduation I went to work for Atari Computer Games, where I did a variety of different jobs, including contributions to games as well as programming manufacturing automation. I learned a lot at Atari but liked the early Apple computers much more.

In early 1981 I joined Apple where I had a terrific time and worked in both the Product Engineering Group and the Advanced Technology Group (ATG).  I was with Apple for almost 11 years, and I think I did make some important contributions to many of Apple's most interesting projects, including video hardware, processor architectures like the ARM chip, and prototype broadband network applications with UI, video, and image objects.  In 1990 I was awarded the Apple Advanced Technology Award for the work I did with UI hyperlinks and multimedia over Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) broadband networks and ISDN.  I wrote one of Apple's early Technical Reports (#14), called "Language Action and Computer Network Interaction", which was considered "disruptive" (before disruptive was cool) when it was initially published in 1989.  That paper is now part of the Special Collections catalog at Stanford University Library.

During most of the 1990s and up to mid 2008, I worked with a series of companies in Director level positions, including Stanford Research Institute (SRI), Edge Dynamics, RSA Security, Entegrity Solutions, and Hayes Microcomputer.  I also had my own consulting practice for awhile based on an Actor Model implementation of a concurrent communications framework I wrote in C++.

In July 2008 I formed my own consulting company, Pittard & Associates, and focused on some interesting environmental research and made some Green Investments. I became a great fan of High Mountain Oolong Tea, and my wife Lan-Yu and I did some work to help reduce the use of toxic pesticides in the mountain Tea farms of Taiwan.  I also became a Founding Supporter of "SAVE THE FROGS", which became a major international educational lobby and field-work organisation dedicated to the protection of global amphibian populations. Frogs are a major "indicator species" for the health of the environment for all life forms, including us humans.  The alarming fact of their declining numbers sends a serious message that we need to do a lot more to clean up the environment. Also I just like frogs.

In October of 2012 I began a series of personal research projects driven by my interest in the incoherent state of vast, high-speed digital multimedia information storage and analysis.  My earlier work at Edge Dynamics had schooled me in "big data" and the many limitations of the existing database and VM technologies of that time (2004-2008). While at Edge I began to experiment with an early version of Apache Hadoop and realised that Hadoop's distribution and redundancy architecture had the potential to solve many of the problems my QA/test group had revealed at Edge.

The research I've been doing in the "vast/fast multimedia" data context since 2015 has led me into the potential of "Reactive", Akka Actor and Streams based systems and the Scala programming language. I recently signed the Reactive Manifesto at reactivemanifesto.org.