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Paul Laughton

Bachelor's Degree, Physics, 1967
man wears red shirt and yellow plastic bowtie and looks at camera

Not everyone can say they were hired by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in a one-page contract worth $13,000. But Paul Laughton can.

In April 1978, Laughton, a former IBM employee who was then a contract programmer for Shepardson Microsystems, was hired to design the file manager, a BASIC interface, and tools for Apple II DOS (disc operating system, the first disc drive) version 3.1 from his home office.

The Apple II was a game-changing computer, fully assembled, with color, graphics, sound, expansion slots, game paddles, and a built-in BASIC programming language. Laughton, who previously worked as a programmer for John Hopkins University and IBM, would later author Atari Basic. Afterward, he would become director of software development at Logitech.

After retiring in 2000, Laughton became a docent for the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, near San Jose. In August 2018, Laughton returned to Virginia Tech to give a talk on his career to a packed house inside Goodwin Hall. Laughton sported a bright yellow 3-D printed bow tie that, yes, he made himself.