Growing up, Mike was awed by all things technical. His first foray into technology when he was merely six was to put electronic controls on a model train. Having discovered how to make switches, he also strung live wires throughout the house, much to the concern of his parents and the local fire department.
Mike was shy, nerdy, and for the most part kept to himself. He was teased for being both nerdy and skinny — to defend himself from classmates learned how to box. His parents offered a different kind of challenge. When he was five, they tested his powers of understanding by floating a bottle that held within it a hand drawn map. Mike’s instructions were to retrieve the map and discover a treasure. The treasure box held bits and pieces of Mexican art work, mostly cut from magazines. One image was of a skull and crossbones, accompanied by text that described the afterlife. Scared at the time, the event was a watershed that enabled Mike to develop a sharp perception of others and the basis for thinking beyond one’s obvious perceptions, to the metaphysical and scientific world
When Mike was ten, his father — who at the time owned a salvage business — brought home broken TVs, radios and x-ray machines. Mike tried to fix them, and every so often got a TV to work. Like many boys growing up before video games, he loved to blow stuff up and make things. He spent hours alone in the library, reading science books, Scientific American magazine and every James Bond story. His family lived near a military surplus store, and Mike became a regular, rummaging for his own salvage such as signs from taxicabs and step-up transformers that he could open up and experiment with in order to complete his projects. From one such venture emerged a stun gun, which he constructed using an old power converter and TV antennas. Mike graduated from Hollywood High School. In high School his class projects included a wireless telephone and Microwave oven; things that did not exist for sale in those days.
While studying computer programming, a couple of engineers at the Burroughs Corporation befriended Mike. Under their watchful eyes, he built a computer that won first prize at the county fair. The machine successfully converted the pulse dial tone of a telephone to binary code. Although he didn’t realize it at the time, Mike had taught himself the concept of binary numbers, which are at the heart of all computer functions.
The prize-winning computer was the first in a string of personal achievements. He designed an automatic cable tester for the electronics giant Siemens in 1975. Mike was given diplomatic clearance for the People’s Republic of China to install and train physicians in EKG electronics and computers in 1979 when most Americans were not allowed to travel in China. He designed diagnostic software for Apple computers and published articles on computer repair in the prestigious A+ computer magazine; wrote comprehensive diagnostics for IBM and clone computers and printers; and developed a telephone control system for in-house voice mail, which was used to test parallel ports in computers and control devices using remote control.
Mike’s professional development was a trajectory that emerged from his childhood fascination with technology. In 1974, he landed a Top Secret position on the design team of the Outer Planets Imaging Group at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California. Mike designed the first system that monitored and evaluated slow-scan receiving equipment, used in the Mariner Jupiter-Saturn Outer Planets Imaging Project to receive photographs from those planets. From JPL, Mike moved to Siemens Corporation, where he immersed himself in large electro-mechanical systems, precision electronics and x-ray systems.
One year later Mike moved on to Marquette Electronics of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As Senior Field Service Engineer, he worked on a broad range of large electronic and data transmission systems for the Medical industry.
Since 1982, Mike has owned his own computer business, now called San Francisco Computer. The company services, builds and sells a broad array of computer systems and networks in the San Francisco Bay Area. Spotting a trend, Mike founded one of the first computer repair companies in the country, which was a time when manufacturers held an exclusive on repairs and parts were hard to come by.
Mike is recognized as someone who can solve difficult problems. Technical challenges delight him and keep the flame burning, whether it’s a product he’s never seen before or explaining the ins and outs of leading edge technology to technical and non-technical people alike. He’s also known for being able to calm customers angry about problems with their computers. “I bend like a reed,” says Mike, who learned how to get along in a family whose members could not or would not communicate with one another. Mike also has that rare ability to spot trends in technology. At any moment his notebook is chock full of observations about emerging technologies that are too early stage to be on the radar screen, and predilections on mainstream technologies that are on the way out.
In the last few years, Mike has appeared on TechTV.com illustrating 'how-to' repair and fix various computer and printer problems.