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Joining with Gardner C. Hendrie and Robert A. Freiburghouse, who also had experience in the computer industry, he formed Stratus Computer in May 1980. On the strength of their reputations, the three men raised $6.7 million from seven different venture capital firms to start the company. He spent 14 years in the computer industry, with Data General as Vice President of Software, and with Hewlett-Packard in the 1970’s, where he held several management and technical positions. When co-workers he supervised left the company to start their own company making computers that never broke down, he declined their invitation to join them, only to see the company they founded, Tandem Computer, become highly successful. By the end of the 1970s, after changing to a job at the Data General Corporation, he had become convinced that he could do the job his friends at Tandem were doing, only better. Stratus Computer, Inc. is a leading producer of computer systems that offer continuously available, or fail safe, applications. The company sells its hardware and supporting software to customers in industries, such as financial services, telecommunications, and healthcare. The company rapidly achieved profitability and steady growth, which slowed in the 1990s as the nature of the computer industry shifted. Computers made by Foster's rivals relied on software to provide their users with fail-safe operation. When their system was first developed, this had been the most economical way to design such a system, since parts, or hardware, had been very expensive. In the intervening years, however, the cost of hardware had come down. With this in mind, he and his cohorts set out to design a computer system that relied on duplication of hardware to insure reliability. Twenty-one months after Stratus was founded, the company was ready to ship its first product. It marketed its effort as a computer with more fail-safe aspects than Tandem's, which nevertheless cost less. The Stratus/32 machine had two central processors, which worked on the same tasks at once. Inside each Stratus Continuous Processing System, two computers were nestled side by side, like Siamese twins. Each processor was able to check its own operation, since duplicate logic circuitry had been wired into it. If one computer failed, the other took over automatically, avoiding a breakdown in service. Unlike the Tandem product, Stratus' processors did not need to spend time checking on each other, so they were able to work more quickly. This advance was made possible by the fact that semiconductors cost just a fraction of their former price. He served as the company's Chairman and CEO until 1997. Under his direction, Stratus grew to a $700 million company with worldwide sales to the telecommunications and financial services. Currently he is a private investor and serves on the boards of several public and private high technology companies. He has joined the Convergent Networks, Inc. Board of Directors, a leading provider of broadband voice infrastructure solutions for the New Public Network. He holds MBA and MS Mathematics degrees from The University of Santa Clara, California and a BA degree in Mathematics from San Jose, California.
  • Noted For:

    Co-founder of Stratus Computer, Inc. along with Gardner C. Hendrie and Robert A. Freiburghouse
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