About Reid



Reid paddling a canoe at Algonquin Park

Work History

I am a long-time software developer.

My first real application was a Mac application that drew spline curves for a computer science class (CSC 318) at the University of Toronto back around 1983.
I left university in 1986 to help startup a company called Unicus with a bunch of friends.
It was pretty cool, getting to work with our own servers and compiling C code on a Mac (hey, in 1986, that was quite the accomplishment!)

That lasted around a year, after which I worked with Mark Thompson for Bill Smook, almost starting a company called MasterSoft.
We had specced out a photo-editing application with layers (years before Photoshop did likewise), but Bill was more keen on OHIP billing software.

So, then I did some contract work in California at a place called Qubix working on an application called (code-named) Leonardo.
It was an illustration program that was (at that time) more powerful than Adobe Illustrator.
It used these interesting sonic pens and ran on Sun workstations.
Mark and I helped port it to the Mac.
I met some very fun people, including Charles, Dave and Diana.
I liked Qubix so much, I applied for a job and was accepted.

I quit my job with Bill and flew to California to start work, only to find out the company had gone out of business!
So, I meekly returned to Toronto and did some “4th Dimension” database contract work (via Bill) and made the rounds with headhunters.
This is how I cam across a little-known place called “Alias Research”.
It was later known as “Alias|Wavefront”, then “Alias Systems” and currently “Autodesk”.

It was (and its owner now is, I guess) one of the world’s leading 3D software companies.
I wrote the following while I was working at Alias|Wavefront, around 1996.
I have updated (and sometimes removed) some of the links, etc, but the text is verbatim,
and is a fun little snippet of life back then.

I sit on the third floor near a window, which sometimes causes a lot of glare in the snapshots
that are taken every 15 minutes for my home page.

Family

  • Married to Luisa Perrella
  • Kids:
  • Location: we live in Guildwood, a section of Scarborough, a suburb of Toronto, in Canada.

Interests & Hobbies

  • comics
  • laserdiscs
  • Japanese animation
  • Macintosh computers
  • the Internet [I have an external account on InterLog]

Genealogy

My parents were both born in the Toronto area. So was I. So were my kids. Two of my grandparents were born in the U.K.,
and the other two were from families that immigrated to Canada from the U.K..
At least, that’s what my Mom tells me.

Okay, a little more detail — my first
name, “Reid”, was my mother’s maiden name. The Reid family was one of the founding families up north of Thornhill.
The family house, Answell, was torn down by Bill Davis’ Ontario government in the early 1970’s :-(. When my maternal
grandfather was a small boy at the house, there was a maid, Ann, who apparently performed “miracles”. These days she
is referred to as “Holy Ann” and is somehow recognized by the Church. The name of the house, Answell, comes
from one of the miracles she performed where she drew water from a dry well. On my Dad’s side, my paternal
grandfather, Edgar Ellis, came from Wales. When I went there in 1977 with my Mom and Dad, we visited the town
he came from and met lots of distant relatives. I don’t remember much as it was mostly older people, so no one really
talked to 15-year-old me.

Employment History

Wow, compared to other people at Alias [like Tabatha and Chris Gailey] I’ve hardly done anything.
I was born in Toronto and have lived here for my whole life.
I started employed life starting up a company with some friends of mine from the University of Toronto, Unicus.
Over time, Unicus hired some future Alias employees, such as Mark Thompson, Eric Dirks, and former Alian Harald Koch.
Also at Unicus there were William Rucklidge and Chris Siebenmann.
Unicus was founded with a simple idea: write a terminal emualation program that could compile new terminal descriptions.
This way, if it didn’t emulate the terminal type you wanted, you could write your own description.
The first platform was the Macintosh, and we got as far as having an alpha version of the app up and running.
But then we got confused and started chasing government contracts and, well, things fizzled.
At this point, I was approached by Bill Smook, owner and proprieter of “Network Connection”, an Apple dealership.
He knew of me through my friend Jeff Ridpath, who worked for him.
He wanted to start a software company, called Mastersoft.
We brainstormed a few products, and even hired Mark Thompson.
The first app was, alas, a vertical-market billing program for Ontario doctors to use with OHIP.
… to be continued

My History at Alias|Wavefront

Repo Man

I started work at Alias Research on March 15 1989 as the repo man, who is in charge of making sure that all the source code is
recompiled overnight. At this point, there were a few SGI Clover consoles around, with most people using Wyse terminals and NCD
X-terminals [black&white — not even greyscale]. Most of the machines were named after colours and beers [“white”, “blue” (a
bit of both), “corona”, “cerveza”]. I was the second person hired after the first big layoff [winter 1988? Actually, it may have
been the second, I’ll have to ask Mark Andrews], right after Ron Janzen.

Birth of Alias Sketch!(tm)

Around the end of 1989 Rob Krieger and Paul Philp had come up with an idea for a new, mass-market product, tentatively called
“SmartWare”. Fortunately, that name had been copyrighted by someone, so in early 1990 the group was renamed “Style!” and the
product was renamed “Sketch!” [only a code name, to be given a proper name
before the product actually shipped]. After talking with Rob and Phil for a bit, and assuring my boss that I would find a
replacement for me as repoman [I had my friend, Eric Dirks, in mind right away], I moved over to Sketch!, joining Lynn Miller and James Rowell [who is now with AutoDesk], who by that point had
decided that the application should initially run on a Macintosh and should be written in C++. Later we would port it to the OS/2
Presentation Manager, which was the API for IBM and Microsoft (this was before Windows was big). Paul Harding joined us shortly
afterwards. Other people were soon hired, and the team grew to include [in no particular order]

Lisa Fung Maria Raso Mark Thompson Chris Gailey
I.V. Nagendra Andrew Woo John Schrag Guno Sutiono
Venu Steve Chall Laurent Ruhlman Sunny Ho
Brian Rowe Mark Bloore Paul Harding

We all lived in the big fish tank on the fifth floor at one point — it was a huge room with a big skylight in the ceiling, but
the glare from the sun bothered everyone, so they put a blue tarp over it, which gave the room a definite aquatic feel.

The Big Layoff of 1991

The size of the “Sketch!” team probably reached its apex in November 1991,
the time of the second layoffs. At that point, the entire Sketch/Windows team was let go, including Russel Owen and Brian Kramer,
who came back to haunt us again later 🙂. If you have a copy of “Sketch!” 1.5, try holding down the command key while selecting “About Sketch…” to see a picture of
the team at it’s biggest.

Maya

After version 2.0 shipped, in late 1994, a new project was started whose goal was to be the next-generation Alias workstation
product. The code-name for this project [for which a real name would be chosen later] was “Maya”. The code base to start with was
a direct port of Sketch over to the SGI platform. Slowly, the entire Sketch team moved over to Maya, which got animation first
working around December 1994 [wow, Sketch with animation!]. When Alias and Wavefront merged to form Alias/Wavefront, we merged a
lot of code, quite successfully, from Wavefront’s next-gen project into Maya, which gave Maya an incredible boost in features and
quality. I was amazed at how quickly the code was merged and made functional.

That’s about it. I’ll try to flesh out parts later, but I’m pretty lazy, so I probably won’t get around to it.

[Reid's signature]

Indeed, I never did get around to it.

Reid, 11:56 2006-09-07
small edit, 15:39 2007-10-01

3 comments on “About Reid

  1. Rob Lines

    Hi Reid,
    I knew Chris Gailey from Alias many moons ago. He is no longer at Alias and a strange voice at his old home phone!(did he change his name to Bev??). Anyway the point is do you where I might be able to reach him? Or can you forward my email to him. Thanks, Rob (and how is your posture these days?)

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