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Born in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, he grew up in Minnesota, where he attended grade school and high school, in the Twin City area. in 1941 he enrolled in Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Minnesota where he finished his freshman year and enlisted in the Navy during World War II. He spent four years in the Navy the last two of which was called the B-12 program, a Naval College training program. As a part of that program he was sent to Purdue University where he continued in Aeronautical Engineering. Unable to accomplish his degree at that time, he received his reserve ensign's commission and served for a short time as an ensign at the Naval Air Station at Jacksonville, Florida. Upon discharge in late 1946 he returned to Purdue and graduated in the spring of 1947. His intent was to be an Aeronautical Engineer. Just before graduation, he heard Mr. William F. Windget of Engineering Research Associates Incorporated (ERA) of St. Paul, Minnesota, was going to be on campus to interview graduates, and he was interested in talking to people whose degree was aeronautical engineering. He signed up for an interview and met Mr. Windget, who presented him with a job offer during the interview. He described ERA and told him of the other engineers, William Norris and Seymour Cray who also came from the Navy, and that this company was to be an engineering company to serve other companies who weren't sufficiently large enough to have first class engineering skills. It was to be a multi-disciplined company so that it would have a broad range of these skills to sell, and one of the areas in the program was an aeronautical group. He gave him the names of Dr. B. H. T. Lindquist, who headed that department and a couple of other people, and he said that his first assignment would be to write technical manuals. Engineering Research Associates (ERA) worked on a number of seemingly unrelated projects in the early 1950s. One of these was one of the first commercial stored program computers, the 36-bit ERA 1103. The machine was built for the Navy, which intended to use it in their non-secret code-breaking centers. ERA was known for their numerical computers, but as the market expanded they became better known for their drum memory systems. In the early 1950s a minor political debate broke out in Congress about the Navy essentially "owning" ERA, and the ensuing debates and legal wrangling left the company drained of both capital and spirit. In 1952, Parker sold ERA to Remington Rand. He became frustrated with the firm after it was sold to Remington Rand in 1952 because management had failed to coordinate the activities of ERA and an earlier acquisition, the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Company. In 1957, he, Norris and Cray, along with financier Bud Ryden, made their next big impact on modern computing technology when they launched Control Data Corporation. As Control Data’s first Marketing Director, he helped influence many of their earliest innovations, including their first computer system, the CDC 1604. Control Data is widely credited with developing the world’s first super computer and eventually spawned Cray Research. Some years later he and Ryden returned to their entrepreneurial roots to form Midwest Technical Development Corporation, only the second Venture Capital group in the United States. MTDC invested heavily in the exploding electronics market. Their investments in National Semiconductor, Telex and other electronics innovators would foster many technological breakthroughs, including the Hard Disk Drive present in every personal computer today. It was during this time that he recognized that credit card commerce was on the verge of exploding. The problem was that production of cards was slow and labor intensive. His expertise in computing and printing technology told him that it was possible to make machine readable cards in a mass production environment. In 1969 he followed this vision and created Datacard Group. In the early days, Datacard Group engineers partnered with strategists and engineers from the world’s leading financial institutions and retail organizations to achieve what seemed impossible. They integrated the efficiency of mass production with the precision required for one-to-one personalization to create the world’s first high-speed credit card personalization system, ushering in the modern era of credit card commerce. This system was capable of creating up to 1500 personalized embossed cards per hour.
  • Noted For:

    Co-founder of Data Card Corporation, his expertise in computing and printing technology led him to envision the world’s first high speed credit card personalization system, ushering in the modern era of credit card commerce
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