10 Tech Pioneers: Where Are They Now?

In October 1999, the trio resigned from DEN after Collins-Rector was sued for allegedly having sex with a minor. The trio fled to Marbella, Spain, where they were arrested two years later for possession of child porn. Meanwhile, Collins-Rector was sued in absentia by former teenage male employees who claimed they had been lured to his mansion, drugged, and sexually abused.

Extradited to the United States in June 2004, Collins-Rector pled guilty to transporting minors across state lines for sex and paid a small fine. According to reports in the November 2007 issue of Radar Magazine, Collins-Rector is in London and may be a silent partner in Internet Gaming Entertainment, a site operated by DEN founder Brock Pierce that sells virtual weaponry to gamers on EverQuest and World of Warcraft. (IGE did not respond to requests for comment.)

The Third Apple

1976: Co-founder of Apple Computer

Now: Semi-retired engineering consultant

Ron Wayne started out by designing slot machines in Vegas, but his unwillingness to gamble may have ended up costing him billions. Wayne is the oft-forgotten third founder of Apple Computer, who hooked up with Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs when he and Jobs worked for Atari in the mid-1970s. Older by more than a decade, Wayne was brought in to act as a tie-breaker when the two Steves disagreed.

But as the three-man partnership slid further into debt, Wayne began to get cold feet. He had already started and lost his own engineering firm--Siand Engineering, a Las Vegas-based maker of gaming machine technology--and didn't have the stomach for another roller coaster ride. In April 1976, Wayne asked the Steves to buy out his 10 percent share in Apple for $800. Afterward, Wayne worked for game companies and defense contractors, traded coins and stamps, and turned down several offers to return to Apple.

Now retired, the 73-year-old Wayne does consulting work, most recently building industrial models for cross-oceanic cabling equipment. In a phone interview, Wayne said he's one of a vanishing breed of engineers who did everything, from initial problem solving to drafting, model building, and final assembly.

"I want to be remembered as an anachronism, someone who did the whole thing from beginning to end instead of just one part of it," he says. But he'll likely be remembered for his short stint at Apple-- one of the few projects Wayne started but never finished.

1999: Mascot for Pets.com

Now: Pitch puppet

Some victims of the dot-com bust went to the dogs, but not Pets.com's famous sock puppet. After his masters imploded in the dot-com debacle, "Socks" was acquired by Hakan & Associates and 1-800 BarNone, a low-cost auto loan vendor, for $125,000. Since then he's starred in commercials for Bar None and been hired to endorse Hasbro toys and Rawhide Chews.

"We feel that Socks' story is something that many Americans can relate to," says BarNone President Grant Whitmore. "Our motto is that 'Everyone deserves a second chance.' Using Socks supports that notion."

Speaking through a spokeshuman, Socks says he is happy with the new gig. "Do I miss seeing myself as a giant balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade? The crazy nights in Las Vegas with that Taco Bell Chihuahua? Yeah, sometimes," says Socks wistfully.

According to the company, Socks currently lives in the top drawer of a very nice dresser in suburban Washington, DC. When not working, he enjoys lip-syncing and knitting.

Page
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...