Who are the people behind the technology that we love so much? We know the products, the websites, the online personalities but we want to learn more!
Every week here at MyMac.com, we will spotlight a company, developer or person that supports Apple users by creating solutions or entertainment for the Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV and other platforms we all use and love by asking them to answer seven questions.
This week, we turn our attention to Jon Gotow of St. Clair Software
1 – How did you get your start in technology?
I studied mechanical engineering in college and graduate school, and learned to write software out of necessity when we needed some custom motion control software for a robotics project. Shortly after that, I got my first Mac as a wedding gift and was blown away when I discovered ResEdit and the Macintosh Toolbox. (For those that are too young to remember, the Macintosh Toolbox was the name given to all of the API’s used to create menus and windows, handle events, etc back in ancient times). I spent a lot of late nights WAY overdoing my class programming assignments with full user interfaces instead of the command-line prompts they were supposed to have. Suddenly programming was actually fun!
2 – What is your favorite computer of all time?
Honestly, I think it was my first Mac – a Mac Plus with a Rodime 20MB hard drive. Not because it was a particularly capable machine, but because of the novelty and excitement of discovering how it worked, seeing the ingenious engineering that made some pretty incredible things possible within its (very constrained) hardware, and how much was open to play with in ResEdit.
3 – Tell us about your latest product / Website
Default Folder X is both my oldest and newest product. Oldest because I wrote the first version of it on my Mac Plus in 1988, and newest because I released a completely redesigned and rewritten version of it last January.
Default Folder X enhances Open and Save dialogs so you can navigate to files and folders much faster, and manage them much more easily. It brings most of the Finder’s functionality into your applications right when you need it. When you’re opening or saving a file, you can rename, delete, compress, tag and comment files and see large previews of them. With a single mouse or keyboard click, you can also navigate to your favorite folders, any folder you’ve used recently, or folders you’ve got open in the Finder.
It’s very popular with people who open and save a lot of files, such as graphics professionals, photographers, musicians and lawyers. Or anyone who wants to spend less time futzing around with Open and Save dialogs 🙂
4 – What was your first job?
I was a hardware designer for AT&T Bell Labs in New Jersey. I graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering, so that’s what I did, but within a year I was writing database software to save money in AT&T’s manufacturing plants. I just couldn’t stay away from software!
5 – What advice would you give to younger people just getting into technology?
Pursue it from an angle that excites you. Pick a project that you’re passionate about, then go learn everything you need to know to accomplish it. That may pull you in interesting directions – you’ll learn all kinds of random stuff – but having the drive and intensity to learn how (and more importantly, why) things work the way they do will pay off, and you’ll remember what you learn.
6 – Who was your inspiration?
Dr. Mark Friedman, one of my advisors in graduate school. He knew a crazy amount about such a broad range of technical subjects and was really “can-do.” He’d look at a problem and start rattling off ideas and possible solutions – usually some combination of mechanics, electronics and software – and would sit with you in the lab and help you design and build it, sharing his extensive knowledge and experience. He was also very passionate about helping people with disabilities – that drove him to design some pretty cool devices with integrated software and hardware.
7 – Where can people follow you online, and what is your website?