Jack Gershfeld Has Devoted His Career to Cutting-Edge AV Solutions
NAME: Jack Gershfeld
TITLE: President and CEO
OVERTIME: Inspired by the original release of the movie Tron, Gershfeld set out to make science fiction a reality with video interfaces that connected computers to projectors.
SCN: At what point did you realize that you were destined for a career in technology?
Jack Gershfeld: I remember very vividly when my dad bought me a book written by French engineer Eugène Aisberg, “La radio?.. Mais c’est tres simple!” (“Radio?.. It is very simple!”) I became fascinated with electronics from that time and I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I was 10 years old.
SCN: After you received your degree in engineering from Cal Poly, you founded Extron Electronics.
JG: I started Extron right about the time movie Tron (Ex-Tron) was playing in theaters, the unemployment rate was 10 percent, and the interest rate was 18 percent. At the time, the AV industry as we know it today was limited to a few projector manufacturers and there was no way of connecting video signals from computers or terminals to these projectors. The movie Tron inspired me to work on products that made science fiction a reality. My vision for Extron was to design and manufacture video interface products.
Gershfeld designing his first interface in1983.
SCN: Later, you founded Inline and then Altinex. What was your vision in launching each of these companies?
JG: When I started Inline in 1989, the AV industry had changed and there were several competitors on the market, including Extron. By that time, there were many different video standards that made designing AV systems problematic. My vision was to design products that bridged different video formats together and made system installations easier. Several products come to mind that made this possible: the universal analog/digital interface and universal matrix switcher. Remember that the word “digital” had a significantly different meaning at that time.
Altinex was started in 1993 with a single focus in mind: design products that would provide cutting-edge AV solutions. At that time, there were even more competitors, including Inline and Extron (Alt-In-Ex). My vision was not to design “me too” products, but instead to focus on innovative solutions that would change the industry’s paradigm. The goal was to develop products that break an established way of doing business.
Today, my vision is very different. I focus on people that make my every day experience exceptional: these are people I work with at Altinex, my friends, and my family.
Kirsten Nelson is the editor of SCN.