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High School Dropout, Self-Taught Chip Designer

CmdrTaco posted more than 9 years ago | from the games-people-play dept.

Classic Games (Games) 816

circletimessquare writes "The QVC television shopping network has recently found a hit in its product the C64, which emulates the classic Commodore 64 in a small form factor, a joystick. But the story of the designer of the product is more interesting than the product. Meet Jeri Ellsworth [NYTimes. You know what that means], whose life story emulates the golden age of garage-based computer design. She is proof that the passion of the homebrew electronic hobbyist is still a viable force in an age when well-funded and well-staffed corporate design teams dominate chip design."

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816 comments

No Reg Required... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139330)

The soul-saver strikes again (Karma Free, for your pleasure):

Reg Free Link [nytimes.com]

Re:No Reg Required... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139352)

She could play with my joystick!

SHE OWNZ nasty ass CEREN

Re:No Reg Required... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139444)

NY Times:
Two years ago she showed it off at the Hackers' Conference, an annual meeting of some of the nation's best computer designers.

What is this "Hackers' Conference" that the NY Times is referring to? They clearly state that it is the "Hackers' Conference" not a "Hackers Conference"

?????

Yes but... (4, Funny)

_PimpDaddy7_ (415866) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139337)

is she HOT?

Re:Yes but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139362)

i'd say pretty "regular" looking... though doesn't look 30 to me...

Re:Yes but... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139366)

Yes.

Re:Yes but... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139374)

actually... yeah..

Re:Yes but... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139377)

Actually, looking at the picture included in the article, yes she's pretty darn cute IMHO.

Re:Yes but... (1)

ValourX (677178) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139380)

See for yourself [nytimes.com] .

-Jem

Re:Yes but... (4, Funny)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139390)

She's pretty good looking [google.com] , even if she wasn't a female hard-core geek who designs and fabricates CPUs for the hell of it.

Re:Yes but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139394)

Ask Google [google.com] . This AC finds her hot.

Re:Yes but... (1)

stupidfoo (836212) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139400)

well, better than some of the nasties that nerds slobber over - but that's not saying much

Interesting:
She gains geek cred for owning an old pinball machine
She loses it for having a Compaq laptop

Re:Yes but... (2, Insightful)

jericho4.0 (565125) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139461)

Considering she fit a C64 + games into a joystick, she could have an AOL account and still have geek cred.

And since everyone's giving an opinion on this; I give her a 6.5.

dyke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139447)

There's a picture of her "girl"friend in another story.

Well (5, Funny)

paranode (671698) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139517)

She looks like a conniving elf in the picture. So in Slashdot terms, yes she's hot.

Re:Yes but... (0, Offtopic)

MrRuslan (767128) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139538)

she needs some makeup in my opinion.....

Re:Yes but... (4, Funny)

gUmbi (95629) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139567)

is she HOT?

6 beers.

Fristpsost (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139338)

Frosty piss all around!

text! (2, Informative)

ack154 (591432) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139342)

Enjoy:

YAMHILL, Ore. - There is a story behind every electronic gadget sold on the QVC shopping channel. This one leads to a ramshackle farmhouse in rural Oregon, which is the home and circuit design lab of Jeri Ellsworth, a 30-year-old high school dropout and self-taught computer chip designer.

Ms. Ellsworth has squeezed the entire circuitry of a two-decade-old Commodore 64 home computer onto a single chip, which she has tucked neatly into a joystick that connects by a cable to a TV set. Called the Commodore 64 - the same as the computer system - her device can run 30 video games, mostly sports, racing and puzzles games from the early 1980's, all without the hassle of changing game cartridges.

She has also included five hidden games and other features - not found on the original Commodore computer - that only a fellow hobbyist would be likely to appreciate. For instance, someone who wanted to turn the device into an improved version of the original machine could modify it to add a keyboard, monitor and disk drive.

Sold by Mammoth Toys, based in New York, for $30, the Commodore 64 joystick has been a hot item on QVC this Christmas season, selling 70,000 units in one day when it was introduced on the shopping channel last month; since then it has been sold through QVC's Web site. Frank Landi, president of Mammoth, said he expected the joystick would be distributed next year by bigger toy and electronics retailers like Radio Shack, Best Buy, Sears and Toys "R" Us. "To me, any toy that sells 70,000 in a day on QVC is a good indication of the kind of reception we can expect," he said.

Ms. Ellworth's first venture into toy making has not yet brought her great wealth - she said she is paid on a consulting basis at a rate that is competitive for her industry - "but I'm having fun," she said, and she continues with other projects in circuit design as a consultant.

Her efforts in reverse-engineering old computers and giving them new life inside modern custom chips has already earned her a cult following among small groups of "retro" personal computer enthusiasts, as well as broad respect among the insular world of the original computer hackers who created the first personal computers three decades ago. (The term "hacker" first referred to people who liked to design and create machines, and only later began to be applied to people who broke into them.)

More significant, perhaps, is that in an era of immensely complicated computer systems, huge factories and design teams that stretch across continents, Ms. Ellsworth is demonstrating that the spirit that once led from Silicon Valley garages to companies like Hewlett-Packard and Apple Computer can still thrive.

"She's a pure example of following your interests and someone who won't accept that you can't do it," said Lee Felsenstein, the designer of the first portable PC and an original member of the Homebrew Computer Club. "She is someone who can do it and do it brilliantly."

Ms. Ellsworth said that chip design was an opportunity to search for elegance in simplicity. She takes her greatest pleasure in examining a complex computer circuit and reducing it in cost and size by cleverly reusing basic electronic building blocks.

It is a skill that is as much art as science, but one that Ms. Ellsworth has perfected, painstakingly refining her talent by plunging deeply into the minutiae of computer circuit design.

Recently she interrupted a conversation with a visitor in her home to hunt in between the scattered circuit boards and components in her living room for a 1971 volume, "MOS Integrated Circuits," which she frequently consults. The book concerns an earlier chip technology based on fewer transistors than are used today. "I look for older texts," she said. "A real good designer needs to know how the old stuff works."

Several years ago Ms. Ellsworth cornered Stephen Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer, at a festival for vintage Apple computers and badgered him for the secrets of his Apple II floppy disk controller.

"I was very impressed with her knowledge of all this stuff, and her interest too," recalled Mr. Wozniak, whose fascination with hobbyist computers three decades ago helped create the personal computer industry.

She attributes her passion for design simplicity to her youth in Dallas, Ore., 35 miles south of Yamhill, where she was raised by her father, Jim Ellsworth, a mechanic who owned the local Mobil station.

She became a computer hobbyist early, begging her father at age 7 to let her use a Commodore 64 computer originally purchased for her brother, and then learning to program it by reading the manuals that came with the machine.

In a tiny rural town without access even to a surplus electronics store, her best sources of parts were the neighborhood ham radio operators. She learned to make the most of her scarce resources.

"It goes back to necessity," she said. "It went back to not having enough parts to design with when I was a kid."

Her first business foray came during high school when she began designing and selling the dirt-track race cars that she had been driving with her farther. Using his service station as a workshop, she was soon making so much money selling her custom race cars that she dropped out of high school.

It was fun for several years, she said, but eventually she decided that she needed to get away from the race car scene. A friend had an early Intel 486-based PC and thought they could make money assembling and selling computers. She decided he was right: "I looked at the margins and it seemed like a great way to make money."

They went into business together in 1995, but soon had a falling out and split up. For a short time Ms. Ellsworth considered leaving the computer business. Instead, she opened a store near that of her former partner, then drove him out of business. Ultimately her store became a chain of five Computers Made Easy shops in small towns.

"My business model was to find areas that were far enough away from the big cities where the larger stores were," she said. "I could generate a lot of loyalty and charge a bit more. It worked out well for quite a while."

Eventually, the collapsing price of the PC made it impossible to survive, she said, and in 2000 she sold off her stores.

"When the machines got down to $75 margins, then even putting a technician on the phone to answer a question meant you were almost losing money," she said.

Free from her business obligations, she decided to return to her first love - hobbyist electronics. She was eager to study computer hardware design, but soon found that there weren't many options for a high school dropout.

She moved to Walla Walla, Wash., and began attending Walla Walla College, a Seventh Day Adventist school that offered a circuit design program. Her attempt at a formal education lasted less than a year, however. She was a cultural mismatch for the school, where she said questioning the professors' answers was frowned upon.

"I felt like a wolf in sheep's clothing," she said.

On her own again, Ms. Ellsworth decided to pursue her passion, designing computer circuits that mimicked the behavior of her first Commodore. She turned to a series of mentors and availed herself of free software design tools offered by chip companies.

Her hobby produced a chameleon computer called the C-1. Changing its basic software could make it mimic not only a Commodore 64, but ultimately more than nine other popular home computers of the early 1980's, including the Atari, TI, Vic and Sinclair.

Two years ago she showed it off at the Hackers' Conference, an annual meeting of some of the nation's best computer designers. To her surprise, she received a rousing ovation - and a series of job offers.

One person who took notice was Andrew Singer, a computer scientist who is chief executive of Rapport Inc., a start-up based in Mountain View, Calif.

Mr. Singer contracted with Ms. Ellsworth as a consultant and has since found that she has abilities that engineers with advanced degrees often do not.

"It's possible to get a credential and not have passion," he said. He compared Ms. Ellsworth to Mr. Wozniak and to Burrell Smith, the hardware designer of the original Macintosh. Neither had formal training when they made their most significant contributions at Apple.

Ms. Ellsworth was also discovered by Mammoth toys, which hired her to design the Commodore-emulating chip for the joystick. She began the project late last June and finished, including a frantic last-minute trip to a Chinese manufacturing factory, in early September - a design sprint fueled by Mountain Dew and 20-hour days.

"It worked out tremendously well for our company," said Mr. Landi, president of Mammoth. "It has entirely changed the way we design electronic toys." He said that he has signed Ms. Ellsworth up for a series of design projects, although he would not divulge the financial details.

Old-fashioned video games like the ones on Ms. Ellsworth's product have become less common recently because kids have grown jaded and expect a "wow" factor, like intense graphics or realistic images that older computers could not produce, said Shyam Nagrani, principle consumer electronics analyst for iSupply, a market research firm based in El Segundo, Calif. He added, however, "The parents are likely to pick this up and say, 'Why not? The kids may like it.'"

When the C64, as the joystick is called informally, appeared on QVC last month, Ms. Ellsworth watched with obvious pride.

"It was one of one of the best projects I've ever done in my life," she said. "It was a tribute back to the computer that started it all for me."

don't mod up :( (5, Funny)

ack154 (591432) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139371)

damnit - i really did mean to post as AC ...

Re:text! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139375)

The text is no good alone. People here are going to want to see her picture! You know how geek guys are. I recommend the Reg Free Link provided in the first post.

BTW- She is cute in a geeky, chip-designing young chick kind of way ;)

Re:text! (1)

spac3manspiff (839454) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139469)

yes, but wheres the hot girl?
someone convert the pic to ascii art!

LOL... tons of lesbian references thrown in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139480)

dont mod up, it's some kind of warped karma whoring troll

First Post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139343)

First Post!

cool (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139348)

cool

Maybe (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139354)

Maybe in 20 years she can design a P75. That will show those corparte giants who is boss.

Re:Maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139574)

Maybe she could put Pro Tools HD on a joystick chip for me...

Whoa.... that would be sexy.. I'd love this girl...

Sighted ahoy... (2, Interesting)

nickleeson (688936) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139359)

the open chip design movement....

Forgot one key to success (4, Insightful)

TrollBridge (550878) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139364)

"She is proof that the passion of the homebrew electronic hobbyist is still a viable force in an age when well-funded and well-staffed corporate design teams dominate chip design."

You forgot well-lawyered, for when an uppity innovator dares challenge the corporate status quo. Sadly, all it would take is one lawsuit (ore even the threat thereof) to shut her down.

Netcraft: Commodore is dead. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139478)

"Sadly, all it would take is one lawsuit (ore even the threat thereof) to shut her down."

Suit from whom? Commodore is no more. Sue based on what? Patents? Trademark? Copyright? I don't think you even know, and just want to live up to your moniker.

Also while what she did is nice. What she did is easier using old chips as templates, as opposed to a brand-new chip.

Re:Netcraft: Commodore is dead. (1)

jericho4.0 (565125) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139519)

Commodore is maybe nomore, but dollars to designers _someone_ still owns the IP.

Anyway, this product is licensed. Always a good idea when sinking $$ into hardware.

Article free of registration. (2, Insightful)

JustAnotherBob (811208) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139368)

Re:Article free of registration. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139410)

You are a Karma Whore. Post it as AC if you don't want to get bitchslapped in the future, mmm-kay?

eureka! (4, Insightful)

bLindmOnkey (744643) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139369)

It seems as though nostalgia always sells. I went to a local mall recently and there was a stand that was selling something similar to these-it was an N64 shaped controller with a decent collection of SNES games right in the controller. I know if I had money I'd buy it for a young relative to experience the joys of my own childhood. Wouldn't you?

Re:eureka! (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139401)

My kids love of the SuperNintendo emulator I stuck on the computer. They play SuperMario World more than the play their actual console games.

Re:eureka! (2, Informative)

Gr33nNight (679837) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139455)

Actually, there has been some Slashdot articles mentioning this exact same device. Its an illegal copy of Nintendos roms, usually at horrible quality.

Buyer beware

Re:eureka! plus legality? (2, Interesting)

narcolept (741693) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139489)

Actually, you are right if you are discussing the same device I linked to. If you're talking about the Commodore 64 emulator that this thread is about, I don't know about the legalities involved with C64 roms, due to them being atleast 20 years old or so. It would be interesting if someone could shed some light on legal issues that Miss Ellsworth could possibly face regarding this, if any?

Re:eureka! (1)

jericho4.0 (565125) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139539)

How does one make a low quality copy of a ROM? Or do you mean the physical device is low quality?

Regardless, I want one.

Re:eureka! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139488)

I'm not sure if the company making the C64 licensed the software ( I hope so) but I do know that the ones you saw in the mall were not legal and no fees have been paid to Nintendo.

This is such a great idea, but I hope the people who are stealing the games from their legal copyright holders for their own profit are amongst the first against the wall when the revolution comes.

Share, but don't profit. If you profit you are stealing from those who made. Or so things seem to me.

that noise you are about to hear ... (3, Funny)

Triumph The Insult C (586706) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139370)

keep your pants on boys ... she's kind of cute [c64upgra.de]

Re:that noise you are about to hear ... (4, Funny)

JaffaKREE (766802) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139426)

Definitely cute, but standing next to a male skull with RAM sticks lodged in the cranium serve as an effective deterrent to sexual advances.

Re:that noise you are about to hear ... (4, Funny)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139496)

You're new here, aren't you?

Re:that noise you are about to hear ... (1, Insightful)

anethema (99553) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139546)

My god you people have low standards.

She is a 4-5/10 at best, maybe a bonus point for knowing how to program a FPGA.

correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139564)

very cute [hal-pc.org]

NO way (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139388)

She is NOT a self-taught CHIP DESIGNER. She is a self-taught FPGA programmer. There is a world of difference, the former is impossible, the latter is trivial.
The good thing from this story is that I hope employers will open their ears and eyes to the fact that university is USELESS to form engineers when the drive is not there, and that university is just a replacement for forced military service.

Re:NO way (0, Flamebait)

dennisr (17484) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139520)

Your an asshole. It's so trivial and you have how many products on the shelf? God sometimes I hate Slashdot between this AC post and the reaction to suprnova.org going down I am getting ill reading comments.

Re:NO way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139523)

But no floppy drive built-in?! Darn...

Re:NO way (1)

Gannoc (210256) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139528)

She is a self-taught FPGA programmer. There is a world of difference, the former is impossible, the latter is trivial.

I wouldn't call it trivial, but yeah... when I read "Self-Taught Chip Designer", I was surprised.

Re:NO way (1)

taniwha (70410) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139541)

bull crap - I'm a self taught chip designer done about a dozen from 30k gate gate arrays by myself up to SOC custom/semi custom designs done with groups - and FPGA design (which I haven't done but have watched others struggle over) is not always trivial

impossible? (5, Insightful)

i41Overlord (829913) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139565)

"She is NOT a self-taught CHIP DESIGNER. She is a self-taught FPGA programmer. There is a world of difference, the former is impossible, the latter is trivial."

Impossible? What about the guys who invented the first chips? Did they go to some class that taught how to build chips which will be invented in the future?

You can buy the same books that they have at schools. You can learn the same things on your own that you'd learn in schools. Some people (such as myself) are tinkerers, and we learn better by experimenting on our own than we do sitting in a classroom.

I find it funny that I've also heard people saying you need to go to school to be a programmer or work in the computer industry. Most of us geeks know that's also false.

Jeri...ooh (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139389)

We've covered this before, and everyone debated the included game list. But, it does pose the question...what sounds does an army of salivating nerds make? ;-)

A girl-geek and slashdot (5, Funny)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139391)

Start rolling out the "She is hot" and "I'd like her to play with my joystick" comments.

One more thing, can Slashdot's editors please stop whining about NYT's registration? To read their news for free just for filling in some info seems like a generous trade.

Re:A girl-geek and slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139501)

"Can Slashdot's editors please stop whining about NYT's registration? To read their news for free just for filling in some info seems like a generous trade."

Please... please... stop whining about Slashdot editors... To submit your views for free, without filling out some info seems like the real generous trade.

Re:A girl-geek and slashdot (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139550)

"To submit your views for free, without filling out some info"

Actually I did fill out some info when I started this /. account as opposed to going as an AC.

Re:A girl-geek and slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139507)

Started [slashdot.org]

I hope she can build a better mail server... (1)

dickeya (733264) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139398)

...to replace the one she is using now when it is overrun with marriage proposals from /. users.

Finally I can get a Comadore 64... (2, Funny)

Socrates Demise (833373) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139399)

and see what all of the fuss was about.

Re:Finally I can get a Comadore 64... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139413)

If you spell it COMMODORE like anyone who is above grade 3 literacy, you will have better luck.

Re:Finally I can get a Comadore 64... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139452)

read the sig ;)

But what about Porn? (2, Funny)

DeathFlame (839265) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139403)

When will someone create a 'joystick' with 30 different kinds of porn, instead of having to use that old 'internet' thing.

Re:But what about Porn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139476)

What is this "porn" you mention? Perhaps you misspelled "Pr0n"?

re: "NYTimes. You know what that means" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139404)

if you use firefox, check out the extension bugmenot - it let's you bypass all this registration crap.

SHE? (3, Informative)

nycsubway (79012) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139408)

She?? did this? That is great! I believe this is the first woman I've heard of who has dropped out of school and started a garage-computer company. I'm not being sexist, but it really is the first time I've heard of it.

Re:SHE? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139486)

She's not a woman, but a lesbian, ie a man's brain in a woman's body. HTH.

There will always been room for the underdog (4, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139416)

I was just telling my wife about this last night.
Even when you think that any industry is too hard to break into because there are big companies dominating it, one can still create something that is better or worthwhile to people. Even for the sake that some people want to shop somewhere else, or buy a different brand.

I mean, think about it, for 50 years cars were being made and the corporations that made them became big 800lb gorillas. But then look, here comes Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Geo, Saturn, Lexus, Kia and now Scion.

So there is room, just take a look at the history of open source software.

Re:There will always been room for the underdog (1)

AlphaOne (209575) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139466)

But then look, here comes Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Geo, Saturn, Lexus, Kia and now Scion.

Just for future reference, Lexus and Scion are both Toyota brands.

Re:There will always been room for the underdog (1)

boodaman (791877) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139536)

...and Saturn is a GM brand. And most "foreign" (non-US) automotive companies have substantial investments and/or joint ventures from the American "Big Three".

Re:There will always been room for the underdog (1)

Socrates Demise (833373) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139543)

I would only consider Kia an underdog of all those you mentioned. Maybe Honda. Lexus and Scion are both part of Toyta and Geo and Saturn are part of GM

Re:There will always been room for the underdog (5, Insightful)

acomj (20611) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139503)

Cars are a bad metaphore. Mostly made by large comglomerates.

Lexus and Scion are made by Toyota.
Saturn made be General Motors,
Geo, was GM rebrand of cars made by Toyota I beleive
Subaru - Fuju Heavy Industries
Kia is from Huyndi (large comglomerate.)

But your right, software/computers are still places were an individual can make it with hard work and good design.

Also she is working for a NJ toy manufacturer not out on her own.

Geos are rebranded suzukis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139576)

Geos are rebranded suzukis

Re:There will always been room for the underdog (1)

syrinx (106469) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139506)

Scion is just a division of Toyota. Saturn is a division of GM. I think Geo is a division of something too.

And Kia sucks, but then, they're successful at it, so, hey, good for them. I only wish I could make $millions by selling plastic death traps.

But, yes, I still agree with your point. :)

Re:There will always been room for the underdog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139535)

I mean, think about it, for 50 years cars were being made and the corporations that made them became big 800lb gorillas. But then look, here comes Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Geo, Saturn, Lexus, Kia and now Scion.

Well, it's the same 800lb gorillas making the cars buddy, they just rebrand them to fool innocent consumers like you.

Re:There will always been room for the underdog (1)

hfox (98827) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139556)

Or the rebadged gorilla:

Geo = GMC
Saturn = GMC
Lexus = Toyota
Scion = Toyota
Kia = Hyundai (though they were producing vehicles independently and for other companies such as Ford for ~50 years)

Re:There will always been room for the underdog (1)

stupidfoo (836212) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139560)

Saturn is owned by GM
Scion is owned by Toyota and was started last year.
Geo was a Chevy brand, made by Suzuki
Toyota owns Lexus and was started in ~1990 (at least here in the US)

just think (1, Insightful)

Bishop (4500) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139428)

Just think what Ms. Ellsworth could have achieved with a proper education. If anything this story shows how the education system fails for smart people.

Re:just think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139526)

You're contradicting yourself, why would a system that fails for smart people benefit a smart person?

Yeah But (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139542)

But ultimately she is limited by her chromosomes, being a woman. Chalk this one up to luck. Women have never done anything useful in the engineering/design world. FPGA design is like glorified BASIC programmer anyway.

All the flame... (3, Interesting)

Thunderstruck (210399) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139437)

Is starting to have an effect! From the article:

Her efforts in reverse-engineering old computers and giving them new life inside modern custom chips has already earned her a cult following among small groups of "retro" personal computer enthusiasts, as well as broad respect among the insular world of the original computer hackers who created the first personal computers three decades ago. (The term "hacker" first referred to people who liked to design and create machines, and only later began to be applied to people who broke into them.)

This column actually notes the distinction between hackers and crackers, well, sort-of... Anyway it sure is refreshing!

Now if only we could come up with different words for good lawyers and bad lawyers. How about Clawyers?

All the flame...What's in a position? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139525)

"Now if only we could come up with different words for good lawyers and bad lawyers."

Plaintiff. Defendant.

Let us hope (4, Insightful)

boodaman (791877) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139450)

Let us hope there are many more people just like her here in America. If there are, the future will be very interesting. If there aren't, we'll find ourselves a nation of passive consumers without any initiative.

Re:Let us hope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139514)

Let us hope there are many more people just like her here in America.
Yes we need more people reinventing the wheel

Re:Let us hope (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139551)

"...we'll find ourselves a nation of passive consumers without any initiative."

Why do you say this as if it's in the future?

should of stayed in school (0)

harumscarum (675595) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139462)

Then maybe she could have contributed something more then just a joystick that some 30+ year old geeks will cream over.

It is cool though that she created something out of determination and passion. It is rare nowadays since all your ideas are belong to us as long as you work for us.

Re:should of stayed in school (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139549)

So, she should have (it's pretty funny to see basic mistakes coming from someone telling someone else to stay in school) gotten into debt to get a boring, mind-numbing cubicle-drone job, AND get into debt for it?
Fuck, you're a GENIUS!

Told you So (3, Interesting)

dshaw858 (828072) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139463)

Yes, I know it's a tiny bit off topic, but I wanted to reinforce something that seemed to be overlooked. In a previous Slashdot article, everyone was wondering how to get kids into tech, and how important it is to push extra (and internal) curricular activities at school. I said that that wasn't necessary [slashdot.org] , and this story goes to prove it. I gotta say, this is a really interesting read... what I wonder is how much more she could have done if she had gone to college and been an electrical engineering major...

- dshaw

Re:Told you So (1)

boodaman (791877) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139569)

what I wonder is how much more she could have done if she had gone to college and been an electrical engineering major...

She probably would have been worse off, unless she was lucky and found a program that encouraged entrepenurial and innovative thinking.

hot, red-head, self taught, retro video game chick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139465)

Cmdr Taco would hit it!
I'D hit it!

time to kill some kitties

Re:hot, red-head, self taught, retro video game ch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139573)

From the quote at the bottom of the page:

How can you think and hit at the same time -- Yogi Berra

Apple ][ in a joystick...? (2, Interesting)

creimer (824291) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139468)

The C64 was based on the 6502 processor. So was the Apple ][. Maybe someone will come out with an Apple ][ in a joystick. If Apple was really smart, they would put an Apple ][ inside an IPod.

The problem with the IPod, you can't claim that your joystick is bigger than anyone else's joystick. :P

Well placed side note (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139472)

Finally, a non-geek news entity getting their termonology somewhat accuarte:

Her efforts in reverse-engineering old computers and giving them new life inside modern custom chips has already earned her a cult following among small groups of "retro" personal computer enthusiasts, as well as broad respect among the insular world of the original computer hackers who created the first personal computers three decades ago. (The term "hacker" first referred to people who liked to design and create machines, and only later began to be applied to people who broke into them.)

Sounds like she got screwed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139495)

She gets a consultants fee for something that very few people could do and she could do it quickly? I'm no business person, but she should have seriously tried to get a percentage of these joysticks.

I'd hit it! (3, Funny)

beldraen (94534) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139504)

Oh, wrong site.. Sorry.

Re:I'd hit it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139527)

thank you for getting the reference. if I had mod points I'd give you "+1 reads more than slashdot"

Re:I'd hit it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139563)

it's a trap!

College is a waste of time (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139511)

If you spent as much time and effort doing independent projects in computing and research as they have you doing off the wall homework and cookie cutter projects, you'd be well on your way to writing sentences this long.

Re:College is a waste of time (1)

CK2004PA (827615) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139558)

Huh?

she did and found it counter productive (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11139513)

smart people don't need school. only dumb people. I'm dumb too, so don't feel bad. some of the very best in IT have no college degree at all. They just pick it up on their own. These aren't your normal programmer and they don't fit in the normal definition. There are also plenty of idiots in the IT field with no degrees, so having no degree doesn't meant anything.

Don't Need School to be Educated. (4, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139544)

School is only a method of pointing you in the right direction to become educated and if you learned enough they give you a piece of paper that says you have learned stuff. If it weren't for regulations in such areas almost every job could possibly be done by a person who never graduated from high school or college. A person who is motivated enough will learn without the need of school. They can go the the library them self and learn information. They can read stories about how other people did things, they can educate themselves without the need for school.

I would like to think school is more a Map to show you were you can go for success. But just like driving on the road you don't always need a Map common since and some exploring will help you get to your location as well, sometimes (usually) a little longer then normal but sometimes a lot quicker. As well with schooling like driving with a Map if you don't know where you are or where you are going the Map is useless.

That said dropping out of school is still often a bad idea, because while you may get there by chance if you had a better education it will give you at least basic directions to start out on, training people with good research skills and the ability to learn for themselves.

Has anyone used one of these things? (1)

Over_and_Done (536751) | more than 9 years ago | (#11139571)

Just curious really, the article said that you could play the games without changing cartridges, so I assume that its a HD in there, but I was wondering if any of the QVC watching slashdotters has played with it.
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