BIOGRAPHY of David Retz (full)

Dr. David Retz has over forty years experience in the area of operating systems, software development, real-time systems, teaching, writing, Internet and web development.

His career started as a programmer of Chemistry applications in 1966 at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) under the direction of Dr. Lowell Hall. Dave's first "machine language" program ran on the IBM 1401 - a Fortran pre-scanner that saved lots of time correcting errors that would have been discovered after the 1-hour round-trip to the National Hurricane Center 7040 machine in Coral Gables, Florida.

After leaving FAU he became a Chemistry graduate student at UCSB. Coincindently, he started work as a programmer on one of the first time-sharing systems for the IBM 360 under Dr. Glen Culler in the Engineering Department at UCSB. The "UCSB Mathematical Online System", or, the "Culler-Fried System" was one of the first interactive computer systems and one of the first "object-oriented" programming approaches. This was chosen as one of the first four sites for the Defense Department's plan to interconnect computer facilities: the ARPANET.

In 1969, he became the UCSB representative to the "Network Working Group" to coordinate creation of protocols and software for development of ARPANET. At that time, no generalized hardware network interfaces existed for IBM mainframe computers, so this also involved participation in hardware development of the first IBM mainframe interface to ARPANET. In 1970, the first text message was successfully transmitted from UCSB to UCLA.

Between 1969 and 1972 he worked on his Ph.D. thesis - addressing the problem of transmitting speech through the ARPANET, compressing it to as low as 2,400 bits per second. In the process, he developed a minicomputer-based system for packetized speech compression. He received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) in December, 1972.

During the period of 1972-1974 he developed an operating system software package to handle "real-time" input for the then "mainframe" world. Donned "ELF" for the DEC PDP-11, the system handled a wide variety of applications for ARPANET, such as speech processing, data acquisition (for seismic and nuclear test monitoring data),and generic file transfer. The new "minicomputer" approach soon planted itself at a few hundred locations on ARPANET.

Coincidentally, the ELF system was the first "Very Distant Host" attached to ARPANET - using a synchronous 50 Kilobit "high speed" line connection to the nearest ARPANET IMP. This allowed minicomputers to be remotely connected over point-to-point leased lines - without an on-site IMP.

In 1974, Dr. Retz joined the Augmentation Research Center at SRI International, working for Doug Engelbart (inventor of the "mouse"). The group used ELF as an intelligent "front-end" to the ARPANET to make Englebart's NLS system responsive in a network environment.

In 1975, Dr. Retz joined the Telecommunications Research Center at SRI, and was responsible for hardware/software integration and testing of the ARPA Packet Radio Net. He managed the design, implementation, and testing of protocols for the network, which involved the first implementation of TCP/IP for the evolving "Internet". This was the first test of multiple packet networks communicating using a "generic" TCP/IP protocol that had been proposed by Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn -- The first inter-connection of networks, and the first "Internet". The successful test was conducted for DARPA officials in a "hostile environment": the parking lot of Rosatti's Biker Bar behind Stanford University.

In 1977, Dr. Retz formed Systar Corporation, a software development company and IBM Business Partner for the IBM Series/1 minicomputer. Systar utilized its proprietary operating system (OS1) to provide applications such as e-mail, data base access, data acquisition, airline reservation terminal emulation and protocol conversion at several thousand locations world-wide until the Series/1 was discontinued by IBM in 1997.

From 1977 until 1990, (12 years) Dr. Retz was retained by IBM as a consulting instructor to IBM personnel at development laboratories in the U.S., Canada, Germany, Japan, and the U.K. This involved creation and presentation of courses for data communications and networking for IBM development personnel in areas such as networking technologies, communications software development methodologies, and network protocols (e.g., TCP/IP).

In 1986, he founded Comware International, Inc., the existing company that originally focused on communications applications for IBM small-business computer systems - including the IBM AS/400. Comware International partnered with Mr. John McCann of Innovak Computing in Australia, to develop a general-purpose AS/400 gateway, called ComGate. This PC-based package addressed many unsolved needs of PC-to-IBM midrange connectivity including Public Network (X.25) access, LAN connectivity, and dial-up access. During the early '90s, Comware International began to address the needs of IBM midrange customers in connection with the Internet.

In 1996 he established a local ISP for the Santa Ynez Valley on the central coast of California, called "SYV.COM". This service provided access to the Internet after it had become commercially available - providing primarily dial-up service, email, web hosting, ISDN, T1 - and later DSL connection to residents and local companies. SYV.COM was merged into another ISP in 2004, retaining the portion providing web hosting and email for websites.

During the periods of 1972-1973, 1972-1974, 1999-2002, and 2004-2005, Dr. Retz created and taught courses for the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) and California State Polytechnic College (Cal Poly), and UCSB Pt. Mugu and Vandenberg AFB extensions in the areas of digital systems, digital logic design, 'C' programming, assembler programming and computer architecture.

In 2004, Dr. Retz led the transition of the Comware International to web development and e-commerce, creating an online news and information site for the local community called Santa Ynez Valley Online ( The web development department of the company has been responsible for the implementation of a variety of corporate websites for local companies, as well as the Santa Ynez Valley Visitors Association and the Santa Ynez Valley Association of Realtors.

Dr. Retz lives in the Santa Ynez Valley, California - part of Santa Barbara County - and has two daughters (Jennifer and Sarah) and eight grandchildren (Sarah, Zachary, Jacob, Austin, Emily, Evan, Lily, and Liam). Dave is a licensed pilot, an emergency ham Radio operator (KK6NA), enjoys attempting to play the piano and guitar, still a Bob Dylan fan, and is still learning German.


  • "Operating System Design Considerations for the Packet-Switching Environment", presented at the National Computer Conference, AFIPS, 1973.
  • "Structure of the ELF Operating System", presented at the National Computer Conference, AFIPS, 1974.
  • "TCP/IP: The DARPA Suite Marches into the Business World", Data Communications (McGraw-Hill), November, 1987.
  • "APPC Gateways: LAN and Host become Peers", LAN Technology, September, 1989.
  • "Emulation Terminals", European Government Journal, Vol 3, No. 3, Summer of 1995.


  • Graduate of LaSalle High School, 1963, Pasadena, CA
  • B.S. Chemistry, 1967, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL
  • M.A. Chemistry, 1969, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA
  • M.S. Electrical Engineering, 1970, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA
  • Ph.D. Electrical Engineering/Computer Science, 1972, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA

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In Memoriam

Dr. John Landry - a fellow student, friend, and mentor (d 1992)

Robert ("Bob") R. Ploger III and his newlywed wife Zandra - co-worker, engineer, competitor, friend
passenger on American 77 (the Pentagon). (d September 11, 2001)


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