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Andrew Kay


1919 - 2014 Obituary Condolences
Andrew Kay Obituary
Kay, Andrew 01/22/1919 ~ 08/28/2014 VISTA, CA -- Andrew Francis Kay, father, grandfather and great grandfather, passed from this life into paradise on August 28, 2014 at the age of 95. Born Andrew Francis Kopischiansky on January 22, 1919 to Fyodor (Frank) Kopischiansky and Julia Halkovich in Akron, Ohio, Andy grew up speaking a Russian dialect called Lemko in Clifton, New Jersey. Andy loved learning from the beginning and throughout his life. He began learning English only after entering the first grade. Rather than playing with other kids during recess or lunch break, he would sit and read with a large rock handy to deter any mischief from other boys. One day in the middle of sixth grade, the principal caught him reading a high school math book, took him to his office, and with one look at his grades promoted him to the seventh grade. Then half way through the eighth grade he was promoted again to the ninth grade. This accelerated his graduation from high school just prior to his seventeenth birthday. With substantial sacrifice and financial support of his parents and younger brother, Andy graduated from MIT in 1940. The same year he married his wife, Mary Catherine Marble, and started working for Bendix in the defense industry. After working for Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, Andy moved his family to Del Mar, CA in 1949 to help his long time mentor and employer Bill Jack start Bill Jack Scientific Instruments Co. where later he became VP of engineering in Solana Beach. Already known professionally as Mr. K., Andy and the whole family changed their last name to Kay that same year. This worked well for his entrepreneurial spirit, where Andy Kay launched out on his own to design electronic equipment for the military or test an idea for an improved fishhook lure. His greatest development came in 1952 where in a rented room in the 17th street beachside Del Mar Motel, Andy invented the Digital Volt Meter. The Digital Volt Meter (DVM) introduced three new innovations for the first time, an automatic voltage polarity switch, automatic voltage decade switch, and of course replacing the needle dial with a digital display all with accuracy to 0.1%. The same year Andy started Non-Linear Systems (NLS) to market and sell DVMs for $2,300 (~$20,600 today) "leading the electronics industry into the digital revolution"* according to Electronics Design magazine. In 1962, famed psychologist, Abraham Maslow, spent his sabbatical studying NLS and its leading edge work environment and Andy's "enlightened management"* from which he later published Eupsychian Management. In 1979, Andy saw that personal computer circuit boards were not as complex as the top of the line instruments NLS was manufacturing decided to get into the personal computer business with Kaypro II, which combined monitor, disk drives and motherboard into one portable unit that was still affordable to the masses. By 1983, NLS was renamed Kaypro, went public, and became the fifth largest PC manufacturer in the world with revenues peaking at $125 million. In 1998, Andy Kay was inducted into the Computer Museum of America Hall of Fame for his many contributions to the electronics industry. Andy continued pursuing his entrepreneurial passion of making and selling PCs under the name Kay Computers until 2010. When Andy was not pursuing business ventures in the electronics industry, he was heavily involved in education. He served as a San Dieguito School Board Trustee from 1955 to 1970 and as a member of the Board of Directors of Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation, Inc., where he pursued the advancement of education with particular attention to the development of a "thinking vocabulary" as a basic component of a successful life. Andy was also a founding member of Del Mar, CA Rotary Club in 1954. Andy developed a firm faith in God. He enjoyed studying the Bible and attending the Rancho Santa Fe Village Church. In a televised interview with MIT Enterprise Forum, Andy was asked, what was his greatest accomplishment, to which he emphatically responded, "My family!"* Andy lost his beautiful wife, Mary in 1996 and at 95, he outlived almost all of his colleagues and friends. Andy will be deeply missed by Marge Stokes, a friend of 70 years and by the family he leaves behind, Brother Steve, four children, Allan, David, Janice, and Nancy, 14 grandchildren, and 26 great- grandchildren. Open Memorial Services: Saturday, September 6th, at 10 a.m. at Rancho Santa Fe Village Church.
Published in The San Diego Union Tribune on Sept. 3, 2014
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