Sierra Systems

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Sierra Systems
Founded: 1979[1]
Headquarters: 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.[2][3]), is a company founded in 1979 in Oakland, California by Electrical Engineer, Inventor and Video Games Industry pioneer Larry Rosenthal[4][5] (Lawrence David Rosenthal), who was one of the original members[6][7][8] 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 student[9] at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), when he saw in 1968, for the first time Spacewar! running on a PDP-1 Computer. Impressed with what he saw Larry created in 1973[10] his own processor and computer[11] built with surplus parts obtained from a run-down store near the Oakland airport called Mike Quinn Electronics[12] thus creating his home version of Spacewar!. He called his invention the Vectorbeam System[13][14][15], which turned to be the first coin-op video game to make use of a vector display.

In 1976, while in Berkeley where he continued his post-graduate studies in electrical engineering at UC Berkeley[10][16], Larry arranged[17] for it to be instaled in an arcade near 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"[10], and "They didn't believe people could adjust to buttons, instead of a joystick. Also they offered me a ridiculous royalty"[10][18].

He licensed[9][18] 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[9] as Space Wars[19].

Discontent with the royalties received Larry left Cinematronics taking with him the "Vectorbeam System"[20] in the Spring of 1978 to form his own company called Vectorbeam[19][21][22] (named after his creation) but after facing[23] huge financial problems and being pressed to sell the Patents of his invention by Cinematronics Larry finally gave up and sold[24] 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[25] embedded systems development tools, one of them, the Sierra 68000 C Compiler, 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.[26][27][28], focusing in the sale of one of his last inventions, a lost key finder and remote control locator called KeyRinger XL™[29][30] (an improved version of the original KeyRinger™[31][32]).

Magazine articles

Main article: Sierra Systems/Magazine articles.

External links


  1. File:Trademark OOPS Reg Nº 1183595 1981-12-29 (United States Patent and Trademark Office).pdf
  2. (
  3. (
  5. (
  6. (
  7. File:ANSI C X3J1188 Draft Proposed 1988-01-11 (X3 Project 381-D).pdf, page 11
  8. File:FederalInformationProcessingStandardPublicationForInformationSystemsProgrammingLanguageC US 160 1989-12-14 (by National Institute of Standards and Technology).pdf, page 9
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 File:CashBox US 1977-11-12.pdf, page 52
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 File:VideoInvaders Book US.pdf, page 39
  14. (
  15. (
  16. (
  17. Starlog, "May 1979" (US; 1979-05-xx), page 16
  18. 18.0 18.1 File:VideoInvaders Book US.pdf, page 40
  19. 19.0 19.1 File:Syzygy US 01.pdf, page 4
  21. File:CashBox US 1979-01-06.pdf, page 28
  22. File:CashBox US 1979-01-13.pdf, page 29
  23. (
  24. File:CashBox US 1979-06-30.pdf, page 48
  26. File:KeyRinger LLC Registration 2014-03-04 (California Secretary of State).pdf
  27. File:KeyRinger LLC Statement of Information 2014-06-02 (California Secretary of State).pdf
  28. File:KeyRinger LLC Statement of Information 2018-03-26 (California Secretary of State).pdf
  29. (
  30. (
  31. File:KeyRinger (2001).jpg
  32. (Wayback Machine: 2003-08-12 08:19)
  33. File:Patent Assignment Cover Sheet 2013-12-12 (United States Patent and Trademark Office).pdf, page 10
  34. (Wayback Machine: 2003-06-18 02:59)
  35. File:Patent US8451127.pdf, page 10
  36. File:TheNationalLocksmith US 2003-12.pdf, page 45
  37. File:KeyRingerXL.jpg
  38. File:KeyRingerXL1.jpg
  39. File:KeyRingerXL2.jpg