Eric Postpischil’s Personal Page

Eric Postpischil

I write software and do some mathematics. I was a software engineer for Digital Equipment Corporation, Sky Computers, EADS, Electronic Arts briefly, and Apple. As a result of being Apple’s main FFT developer, my software is in a billion devices used by people around the world.

I am analytical and rational. When I was eight, I knew I wanted to do mathematics. I also grew up reading science fiction voraciously. I am the type of person who would have played video games, but the early home video games were primitive. I spent a lot of time and quarters on arcade video games. Because early video games were exploring new media, they had a lot of novelty and experimentation that we lack today.

The early computer games were fascinating because of the new things they were bringing into the world. The first time that a machine could tell the day of the week from your birth date, it was a new thing in the world, so it was interesting. Later came the excitement of Star Trek played with character-cell graphics. The first adventure game, Adventure (Colossal Cavern), could understand two-word commands! Here is a good history of computer and video games.

I wrote my first computer program in 1975. Computers were rare and inaccessible to most people. I was fortunate to have early access to some computers because my father was a programmer.

I pursued computer science in part because of its mathematical aspects. With my bachelor’s degree in computer science, I got a job with Digital Equipment Corporation and worked in operating systems for 13 years. I also got a master’s degree in mathematics.

Mathematics is my life-long interest; it has been my constant primary interest in spite of professional diversions such as software engineering. I have a master’s degree in mathematics from Rivier College, and my first paper, “There Are No New Homometric Golomb Ruler Pairs With 12 Marks or Less,” co-authored with Peter Gilbert, was published in the Journal of Experimental Mathematics 3 (1994), Number 2: 147-152. In 1980, I was the top scorer in the Prince George’s County math league. Almost every math class I took contributed something that was used in practical work during my career.

As home video and computer games became better, I spent more of my recreational time with them. I found a variety of interesting things in video games: logic puzzles to solve, adventures to experience, worlds to explore, challenges requiring development of strategy, or simple physical challenges of developing coordination, reflexes, and fast decision-making. My favorite games were good adventure, puzzle, and strategy games. There are still some good games in those genres, but today’s games may devote billions of bytes to graphics but not enough design to game structure or playability.

Lead crystal block with Apple logo in front of Apple ten-year service award letter
Apple ten-year service award.
In 1997, I switched my career from operating systems to high-performance numerical software, and I worked for Sky Computers, European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), Electronic Arts (briefly), and Apple (for over twelve years).

For EADS, I worked in Germany for nine months and took the opportunity to see some of Europe, which got me started traveling. I return to Europe now and then and plan to experience more travel.

During my residence in Germany, I had limited access to English entertainment but had some Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs and became a fan of the show.

My recreational reading has slowed, but I hope to return to it when I retire. Two of my favorite authors are Robert Forward and Charles Sheffield, both of whom are are physicists who write “hard” science fiction. For me, the best science fiction speculates about exciting things that just might be possible in our universe.

My biggest hobby these days is playing board games, of the kind called casual strategy games, Eurogames, or German-style board games.

Some other things I do with my time are reviewing chocolate stores, occasional baking, some hiking and bicycling, and, just once, skydiving.

© Copyright 2017 by Eric Postpischil.