I’m Michael Slater
I live in Sebastopol, CA, where my wife Irene Stratton and I moved in 1990 to escape the craziness of Silicon Valley and to fulfill a shared dream of living in the country.
For 22 years, we lived on a beautiful 5-acre lot a few miles west of town. For the past three years, we’ve lived in town, where we enjoy the much lower maintenance of a smaller property and being close to everything.
We have two wonderful children, Amanda (20) and Gregory (25). Both are now out on their own, living in Santa Rosa. I am so proud of both of them for how they have found their way in the world.
A Checkered Past
If you’d like the details, you can view my resume.
I went to UC Berkeley to study electrical engineering from 1973 through 1977. I started out fascinated by radio and television, but computers quickly swept me up. The first microprocessors were just shipping, making this an exciting time for building small computers.
I joined Hewlett-Packard after getting my BSEE. I never quite felt comfortable in the big-company setting, though, and I left after three years to pursue independent consulting.
From 1980 through 1987, I worked as an independent consultant designing microprocessor-based hardware and software. This was called consulting but was really more like contract engineering.
In early 1987, I got the idea to create a newsletter for the microprocessor industry, inspired by Stewart Alsop’s PC Letter and Esther Dyson’s Release 1.0. The result was Microprocessor Report, first published in September 1987 and still being published almost 30 years later.
Microprocessor Report spawned Microprocessor Forum, a conference I created that peaked at more than 1,000 attendees. It was a special time in the industry, with lots of turmoil and competition with regard to computer architecture, and I was fortunate to fall into a position where I could facilitate the gathering of this community for more than a decade.
PhotoTablet and Fotiva
By 1999, I was sick of my tense relationship with Intel, which didn’t like our candid criticism, and drawn to the burgeoning startup world. Partnering with colleagues Ken Rothmuller and Bernard Peuto, we were able to raise about $2 million and start PhotoTablet, which evolved into Fotiva, which was then acquired by Adobe.
I worked for Adobe for 5 years but was not successful in finding happiness there. In the summer of 2006, I decided to leave.
I was once again drawn by the startup bug, and joined with former Adobe colleague Christopher Haupt to found Webvanta in the fall of 2007. I ran Webvanta from then until the end of 2015, when project manager Eric Leuschner stepped up to COO as I shifted my focus to cancer treatment and family.
Now, this website is my primary occupation, as I attempt to share as much as I can of my accumulated thoughts, photos, opinions, and stories.