Three more Kiwi technology achievers were inducted into the Hi-Tech Hall of Fame today — and they are all South Islanders.
Software developer Sir Gil Simpson, electronics innovator Dennis Chapman and digital animator Ian Taylor, were named at an awards breakfast this morning, after being selected from 35 nominees.
They join Sir Angus Tait, Neville Jordan, Sir Woolf Fisher and Maurice Paykel, Peter Maire, Bill Gallagher and Trevor Eagle in the PricewaterhouseCoopers NZ Hi-Tech Hall of Fame.
Accepting his award, Simpson quipped that the Auckland breakfast was "just the South Island section of the awards".
"The North Island is tomorrow."
In 1978 Christchurch-based Simpson developed a new programming language – LINC – providing a simple and cost effective programming environment for applications that ran on large mainframe technologies. LINC was purchased by Burroughs Software, now Unisys, and remains one of New Zealand’s most successful software exports.
LINC’s commercialisation led to the establishment of Aoraki Corporation, now known as Jade Software.
Dennis Chapman left Tait electronics in 1985 to establish Swichtec Power Systems. He sold it in 1998 as a $100 million company employing over 400 staff. He has since became involved with a number of other hi-tech companies.
Asked about his attitude to risk and failure in a panel discussion after the awards, Chapman advised innovators to "recognise when they are backing a loser as early as possible and change tack".
Ian Taylor began building two successful businesses in the 1990s: Taylormade Productions, a television production company, and Animation Research. ARL made yachting a television sport after developing real-time tracking of races using global positioning and real time presentation software. In 1999 Taylor merged ARL’s 3D graphics into a new company, Virtual Spectator, which bought the America’s Cup into households around the world.
Taylor said his corporate philosophy was "bugger the boxing, pour the concrete anyway". He then admitted his business might have benefited from a bit more boxing.
In a self-deprecating speech, Taylor said he was the only member of the government's ICT Taskforce that didn't know what "ICT" meant — and he was afraid to ask.
"I'm just a cutter and paster of other people's work," he said. "Actually it took me some time to work out how to cut and paste."
Video: the inductees are announced by MC Rod Oram (apologies about quality)