Hardy Martin, co-founder of Innovative Electronic Designs, and one of the pioneers of modern digital audio processing, died Sunday, May 1 at his home in Louisville, KY. He was 79 years old. Together with his long-time associates Ray Allen and Robert Ponto, Hardy Martin established Innovative Electronic Designs (IED) in Louisville, KY in 1978, initially to develop an automatic microphone mixer for JBL. From there, IED developed many firsts in the audio processing industry: the first airport digital record and playback system in 1981, the first digital announcement control system for an airport in 1982, and the first airport ambient analysis system in 1987. Eventually, other audio engineering experts joined IED’s leadership team: the late Tom Roseberry, John Johnson, and Ed Young. In addition, IED’s audio expertise expanded into other large-scale facilities such as stadiums and arenas, hotels, convention centers, amusement parks, office buildings, schools, and government installations.
“He was always taking the company forward,” said Bob Ponto, one of the company’s co-founders and former vice president of engineering. “He always advanced and wanted to do things that were unheard of before.”
Born in Louisville, KY in 1936, Hardison George Martin, Sr., graduated from Southern High School in 1954. He attended and played sports for the University of Kentucky before being drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 1955. After a brief career in professional baseball, he spent some time racing cars and later became lead guitarist for the Black Mountain Boys and The Carnations, two Louisville-based bands. He and bandmate Ray Allen then established Allen-Martin Productions, a large recording and video production studio, a booking agency later known as Triangle Talent, and several record labels including Tilt and Jam.
Martin also owned or co-owned several patents, including a low-impedance digital attenuator and a multiple-input audio program system.
With IED, Martin took a hands-on approach to quality, always committed to precision. That commitment to quality spread to those who worked for him.
“IED is driven to be the best because of Hardy’s passions,” said IED systems engineer Bob McCrobie. “Hardy had set the example for us. There was no other way. Nobody thought about themselves. For us, it was an IED effort.”
While he had a passionate commitment to quality products, Hardy Martin was also committed to quality relationships with people. His wide, trademark smile and friendliness were legendary with customers, colleagues, and his employees. Martin’s friend and business partner Loyd Ivey, founder and president and CEO of Mitek Communications, called him a great human being, saying, “His loss is insurmountable. He gave so much of his life to everybody around him. His ideas were as young as if they came from the mind of a 21-year-old because he was that in tune with what's going on.”
Ivey added, “The biggest contribution Hardy made to the audio industry was just to be himself.”
Expressions of sympathy can be made as a contribution in Hardy Martin’s name to the Susan G. Komen Foundation in memory of his daughter Betty Jo.