A Kaypro 10 portable computer. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Andrew Kay, whose Solana Beach-based company developed the popular Kaypro II in the early days of personal computers, died last week in Vista at the age of 95.

His company, Non-Linear Systems Inc., was once the world’s largest maker of portable computers, introducing in 1982 a rugged, boxy machine with a monochrome green screen and 5.25″ floppy disk drive that quickly became a hit with authors and journalists.

Personal computer pioneer Andrew Kay. Courtesy MIT

Arthur C. Clarke wrote his 1982 novel 2010: Odyssey Two on a Kaypro.

Kaypro computers used the CP/M operating system and missed the transition to Microsoft’s MS-DOS, which evolved into Windows. The company, renamed Kaypro Corp., filed for bankruptcy in 1990.

Kay was born in Akron, OH, and graduated from MIT. He started his career with Bendix followed by two years at Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In 1952 he invited the digital volt meter, and founded his company to produce the innovative device.

Locally Kay was a long-time trustee on the San Dieguito School Board and a founding member of the Del Mar Rotary Club.

Survivors include sons Allan and David, daughters Janice Kay Batter and Nancy Egli, and 14 grandchildren.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.

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