"I was born in 1958 in Madison, WI. I obtained a BS degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1979, and then a Masters and PhD in Applied Physics from Cornell University."
While I was a graduate student at Cornell, I began work on The Norton Commander (at the time I called it Visual DOS). There is a whole history there. I worked on The Norton Commander and also some other programs until 1989, when I sold my rights to Symantec at the time they acquired Peter Norton Computing. After that I wrote some books, was involved in various start-up companies, and now I work at Microsoft as a software developer.
Someone has created a long detailed history (it's amazing the information he's manage to find) about the Norton Commander.
Where did you find the ideas for your screensavers? Which challenges did you encounter when making the screensaver? Was the initial idea very different from the final software?
My company, Socha Computing, created the screensaver engine that we then licensed to Microsoft. We created this engine in order to build and sell our own screen savers. The engine was written by Susan Ramee, who worked for me, and I wrote a program that allowed an artist to develop a screen saver and preview it on the screen using a graphical environment. We also licensed this to Microsoft, and their artists used it to create most of the screen savers in the Plus pack. Our company created a screen saver called Imaginaria that was published by Clarus, a division of Apple, under their Clarus Clear Choice brand. The two artists who worked on this were John Mason and James Marsh, located near Monterey, CA. Unfortunately, very shortly after releasing our screen saver, Apple decided to shut down Clarus Clear Choice and refused to return rights to us. This was probably around 1993 (I don't remember the exact year). I don't have any photos of the teams from that time (that would have been nice).
Do you currently use a screensaver on your computer? Do you see a future for screensavers?
Not long after that the price of screen savers dropped way down, probably because there was one software company that produced some really bad screen savers that didn't sell well, so they dropped their prices way down. Everyone else followed, and that was pretty much the end of the huge popularity of screen savers. The emergence of LCD screens and Energy Star monitors also significantly reduced the value of screen savers. I haven't used a screen saver in a very long time, and I don't see a future in screen savers. They satisfied an important need in the early days, then became a fad. And like many fads, interest waned.