African American tech pioneer Ed Smith discusses his life story from growing up in a Brooklyn ghetto to working on the design of early video games and PCs
Today’s guest is the incredible Ed Smith - one of only two known African American engineers who worked on the design of video games in the 1970s and the first African American to work in the design of a personal computer, and the only hybrid video game/personal computer ever released.
In this episode, Ed talks me through his childhood, growing up in one of the toughest neighbourhoods in Brooklyn, New York and his desire to create a better life which he found through tech. A voracious reader and into electronics, Ed studied Computer Science before getting a job working on traffic control signals at Marbelite. Whilst there, Ed got the opportunity to go to Fairchild and learn early microprocessor-based circuit design which put his skills in high-demand. He soon landed at APF Electronics where he immediately starting work on the hardware design and built the prototypes, joystick and port design for the MP1000 video game – one of very few cartridge-based video game systems at the time. Two years later, Ed and the APF design team leveraged the processing power of the MP1000 and Ed’s hardware designs to create the Imagination Machine personal computer which was the first combined home video game console and personal computer.
This episode is inspiring and uplifting with many lessons from Ed on how to strive, thrive and find your role in tech.
Mentioned in this interview:
Ed's book Imagine That!: The story of one of the first African Americans to work in the design of video games and personal computers can be bought from Amazon UK here and Amazon US here.
Benj Edwards Fast Company interview with Ed Ed Smith And The Imagination Machine: The Untold Story Of A Black Video Game Pioneer
Let us know what you think of this episode and please rate, review and share - it means the world to me and helps others to find it too.
Danielle on Twitter @daniellenewnham and Instagram @daniellenewnham
Ed website / Twitter @slicer114
This episode was hosted by me - Danielle Newnham, a recovering founder, author and writer who has been interviewing tech founders and innovators for ten years - and produced by Jolin Cheng.