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David Forney

David Forney

Key personnel successions in early stage organizations are more often reason for failure than success; not so with the story of Dave Forney of Codex. Already available are the related histories of Art Carr, CEO, and John Pugh, Director of Marketing. Now comes the interview with the VP of Research, Dave Forney. To complete the critical early history requires the interview of Jerry Holsinger, the inventor of the 9600 bps modem, the product that once perfected under Forney’s leadership becomes the source of Codex’s unassailable decades long success.

Forney graduated from Princeton with his B.S.E. degree in Electrical Engineering in 1961. He next received his M.S. and Sc.D. degrees from M.I.T. in the years 1963 and 1965. While at MIT, Forney worked at Lincoln Labs as a Staff Associate. On graduating from MIT, he went to work for Codex as a Member of the Technical Staff. The events of 1970 were transformative not only for Codex, but also for Forney, who became the VP of Research and member of the Board of Directors. In 1975, he was promoted to VP of Research and Development, a position he held until 1979. After Motorola’s acquisition of Codex in 1977, Forney was promoted to an ISG (Information System Group) position before returning to Codex as a Motorola VP in 1986.

Interviewing Dave proved to be much easier and more demanding than I had expected. Easier because he was a true gentleman and never asserted his superior intelligence, as any reader of this interview will discover. What might not come across is just how “on my toes” I labored to be. For as I entered his office with bookshelves crammed with books and stacks of professional Journals filled with articles I would never be able to read, much less understand, I knew I was about to interview a man of truly superior intelligence. Luckily for me, Dave never reveled in his advantages that strangely made it all the more intense for me. Fortunately, however, Dave did not assert his right to cut the interview short, and patiently and thoroughly answered all my questions. As I left his office, he graciously escorted me out, and I felt I had learned what I needed to know to write the history of Codex, a history collaborated by Carr, Pugh and Holsinger.

Keywords: MIT, Codex, 9600-bps modem, AE-96, Modem-X, L Series Modem, Motorola

David Forney Interviewed by James Pelkey 7/28/88