The Book

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C. Norman Winningstad, BS(EE), MBA, LL.D
The author of this book is an atypical Type A (see Chapter 25 (^_~) He started out as an aeronautical engineer, was diverted by World War II to becoming an electrical engineer. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a specialty in vacuum tubes in 1948, the year Bell Labs announced the transistor; hence, he graduated technically obsolete (^_^).

He spent eight years of his early career at the (now) Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories, and was at the bottom of a pyramid holding up Dr. Emilio Segre, while he earned the Nobel Prize for making the first man-made antiproton. From there, based upon his instrumentation work at LBL, he was hired into Tektronix, in Oregon.

There he advance up the management ranks to his Peter Principle “Level of Incompetence.” Taking a leave of absence from Tek, he obtained a Master of Business Administration degree from Portland State University. While earning the degree, fellow associates from Tek talked him into heading a new company, Floating Point Systems. The company grew sales a factor of 16 in three years, and he took the company public. This company was such a great success, that it grew to what was threatening to become his level of incompetence. To avoid the Tek trap again, he arranged to hire an industry-experienced new President and Chief Executive Officer, who took only a few years to bankrupt the company. While this was going on, he helped start up and was chairman of the board of Lattice Semiconductor. He learned another lesson here, in that the entrepreneur, who founded Lattice, drove the company into bankruptcy, at the same time FPS went bankrupt (*_*)

When the Board of Directors of FPS thought he would not be willing to make the necessary cuts to save FPS, he went to the Board of Lattice, and proposed a plan to save Lattice. Lattice, on Dec. 8, 1986, the day he took over, had 16-million dollars in trade payables, and a negative net worth of 6-million dollars. Starting January 1987, Lattice has been profitable every quarter since. He took Lattice public, and hired a new CEO who has made an even greater success of Lattice. After a few years, some early associates of FPS suggested starting a new company, ThrustMaster, a maker of flight controls for computer games. Three of the four founders were pilots, so this was a natural. ThrustMaster was taken public, and sold out to a French company, when it became clear Microsoft was too tough a competitor. He became an early investor in BlackLight Power, a private energy and chemical company, and was named Treasurer in 1997 and retired in 2008.

While getting the experience of being a Techweenie, he published 7 technical papers, and was awarded eight patents, and got a ninth later in 1999. He was awarded Reed College’s “Howard Vollum Science and Technology Award” in 1978.

While getting the experience of being an entrepreneur: In 1980, he received the Associated Oregon Industries “Business Leader of the Year Certificate of Achievement.” In 1981, he received the US Small Business Administration’s Oregon’s “Small Business Man of the Year”, and placed third nationally. In 1981, he received the National Management Association’s “Free Enterprise Man of the Year” award. In 1982, Pacific University awarded him the honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D) In 1983 the Associated Oregon Industries made him the “Business Leader of the Year.” In 1984, the Portland Chapter of the American Jewish Committee gave him and his wife the “Institute of Human Relations Award (although this was for social and arts efforts, not for business reasons.) In 1985, the Boy Scouts of America, Columbia Council, made him the “High Technology Good Scout of the Year,” and the University of Oregon granted him their “Pioneer Award.” In 1988, he received the Lewis and Clark College “Aubrey R. Watzek Award.” In 1997, he and his wife received the Oregon Arts Advocates “Governor’s Arts Award.”

Also during this period, he served on five non-profit boards, further rounding his exposure to widely ranging human-issues problems. He has good public speaking skills, having taught at a trade school in 1948, lectured sporadically over the last 20 years at Portland State University, as well as convincing underwriters and their clients to buy into three company’s stock offerings.

“All work and no play makes a dull boy”, so he has hobbies, ranging from high performance cars and aircraft (Tri-Jet airplane, helicopter, instrument rated), to Home Theater and computers. He currently flies his twin-turbine Agusta 109 helicopter extensively while he keeps his eye out for another jet (^_~) He retired from flying his twin-turbine Agusta 109 helicopter, his last pride and joy aircraft.


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