Sierra Systems

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Sierra Systems
Founded: 1979[1][2][3]
Oakland, California, United States

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Sierra Systems (not to be confused with the Canadian IT services and consulting firm Sierra Systems Group Inc.[4][5]), is a company founded in 1979 in Oakland, California by Electrical Engineer, Inventor and Video Games Industry pioneer Larry Rosenthal[6][7] (Lawrence David Rosenthal), who was one of the original members[8][9][10] of the Technical Committee X3J11 on the C Programming Language, who developed the ANSI C standard (C89), under project 381-D by American National Standards Committee on Computers and Information Processing (X3), completed in 1989 and ratified as ANSI X3.159-1989 "Programming Language C.".

Larry was a 17 years old New Jerseyan student[11] at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), when he saw in May 1968[12], for the first time Spacewar! running on a PDP-1 Computer, an experience that proved memorable to him. After graduating in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, Larry Rosenthal traveled across the country to complete his post-graduate studies at UC Berkeley[13]. That christmas he paid a visit to MIT where he saw a Computer Space cabinet in the student union. He was shocked because he could not understand why the birthplace of Spacewar! would host such a primitive derivative of it. After completing his Master of Science in Electrical Engineering in June 1973[12][14] he decided to create his home version of Spacewar!. At the time the only microprocessors on the market were Intel's 4004 and 8008 models which were not powerful enough to drive a display so Larry built[13] his own processor and computer[15] out of TTL logic, with surplus parts obtained from a run-down store located on the northeast corner of the Oakland Airport called Mike Quinn Electronics[16][17]. He called his invention the Vectorbeam System[18][19][20], which turned to be the first coin-op video game to make use of a vector display.

In December 1976[21], still in Berkeley, Larry arranged[22] for it to be installed at the Silver Ball Gardens[3][23][24] arcade which was close to the university campus for a test, and despite gathering little attention in the beginning it soon became the main attraction of the arcade, pulling players away from other games.

Shortly after, in the same year, Larry travelled to Chicago, trying to make a deal with Midway, who according to him, "liked the vector, but not the game"[13], and "They didn't believe people could adjust to buttons, instead of a joystick. Also they offered me a ridiculous royalty"[13][25].

He licensed[11][25] his new invention to Cinematronics, a pioneering arcade game developer, based in El Cajon, California that had its heyday in the era of vector display games, who released it in 1977[11] as Space Wars[26].

Discontent with the royalties received Larry left Cinematronics taking with him the Vectorbeam System[27] in the Spring of 1978 to form his own company called Vectorbeam[26][28][29] (named after his creation) were he rereleased the game as Space War. After coming up with some other games that unfortunately did not enjoy the same success of his first video game, Larry found himself heavily in debt[30] and being pressured to sell the patents of his invention by Cinematronics, Larry finally gave up and sold[31] the company with the patents back to them in 1979.

After exiting the video game field, Larry founded Sierra Systems in that same year, producing[32] embedded systems development tools, one of them, the Sierra 68000 C Compiler[33], was largely used in the early 90's in 68000-based applications ranging from navigational systems to printer applications and video games.

Currently, Larry Rosenthal trades as KeyRinger, LLC.[34][35][36], focusing in the sale of one of his last inventions, a lost key finder[33] and remote control locator called KeyRinger XL™[37][38][39][40][41][42][43][44][45][46] (an improved version of the original KeyRinger™[47][48]).

Magazine articles

Main article: Sierra Systems/Magazine articles.

External links


  1. (
  2. File:Trademark OOPS Reg Nº 1183595 1981-12-29 (United States Patent and Trademark Office).pdf
  3. 3.0 3.1 File:NewWest US 1979-08-13; page 10.png
  4. (
  5. (
  7. (
  8. (
  9. File:ANSI C X3J1188 Draft Proposed 1988-01-11 (X3 Project 381-D).pdf, page 11
  10. File:FederalInformationProcessingStandardPublicationForInformationSystemsProgrammingLanguageC US 160 1989-12-14 (by National Institute of Standards and Technology).pdf, page 9
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 File:CashBox US 1977-11-12.pdf, page 52
  12. 12.0 12.1
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 File:VideoInvaders Book US.pdf, page 39
  14. (
  17. (Wayback Machine: 2020-12-16 04:21)
  19. (
  20. (
  21. Old School Gamer Magazine, "September 2018" (US; 2018-09-xx), page 15
  22. Starlog, "May 1979" (US; 1979-05-xx), page 16
  25. 25.0 25.1 File:VideoInvaders Book US.pdf, page 40
  26. 26.0 26.1 File:Syzygy US 01.pdf, page 4
  28. File:CashBox US 1979-01-06.pdf, page 28
  29. File:CashBox US 1979-01-13.pdf, page 29
  30. (
  31. File:CashBox US 1979-06-30.pdf, page 48
  33. 33.0 33.1 Old School Gamer Magazine, "September 2018" (US; 2018-09-xx), page 16
  34. File:KeyRinger LLC Registration 2014-03-04 (California Secretary of State).pdf
  35. File:KeyRinger LLC Statement of Information 2014-06-02 (California Secretary of State).pdf
  36. File:KeyRinger LLC Statement of Information 2018-03-26 (California Secretary of State).pdf
  37. (Wayback Machine: 2003-06-18 02:59)
  38. File:Patent US8451127.pdf, page 10
  39. The National Locksmith, "December 2001: Volume 72, Nº 12" (US; 2001-12-xx), page 32
  40. The National Locksmith, "December 2002: Volume 73, Nº 12" (US; 2002-12-xx), page 30
  41. The National Locksmith, "December 2003: Volume 74, Nº 12" (US; 2003-12-xx), page 45
  42. File:KeyRingerXL.jpg
  43. File:KeyRingerXL1.jpg
  44. File:KeyRingerXL2.jpg
  45. (
  46. (
  47. File:KeyRinger (2001).jpg
  48. (Wayback Machine: 2003-08-12 08:19)
  49. File:Patent Assignment Cover Sheet 2013-12-12 (United States Patent and Trademark Office).pdf, page 10