My name is David Bryant. I’m an electrical engineer both genetically and by training, and have spent over thirty years designing, building, marketing, selling, building, and using computers and software. I’ve worked as an individual researcher and developer, and led full product engineering organizations of over a hundred people. My career path has given me a chance to build small embedded devices, mobile and consumer electronics, operating systems and middleware, telecommunications and information systems, and components of large data centers.
When I’m not working I love spending time with my wife, son, and daughter. We live in the Silicon Valley, but all enjoy travel and have close family and friends all over the world. I’m an avid amateur astronomer, photographer, and cook. I love technology, science, math and music. Mostly, though, I am drawn to problem solving in all its forms and studying how things work. If I’m not in the midst of learning something then I’m probably finding ways to share what I’ve learned (hence the title of this blog). You’ve been warned.
I grew up in Nashville, Tennessee and attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville where I earned Bachelors of Science and Masters of Engineering degrees in Electrical Engineering with a specialty in computer engineering. My masters research and thesis was in pattern recognition and imaging processing, which landed me a job at Bell Laboratories in Columbus, Ohio in February of 1979. Luckily I arrived at Bell Labs right after the birth of the Unix operating system so was part of the exciting days of finding new things to do with Unix on a steady stream of new and innovative minicomputers. In addition to helping evolve Unix itself I was part of teams that built on top of it, contributing to hyper real-time pattern recognition systems to help automate the long distance network, software platforms for information systems, and early generation graphical user environments on a new kind of computer – personal workstations.
Familiarity with workstations and windowing systems brought me in contact with folks at Sun Microsystems, who convinced me to leave Ohio and move to Silicon Valley in 1993. I spent seventeen years in various engineering management, product management, marketing, and field enablement roles at Sun across the entire portfolio of software products. My last two years were as part of the Java product group where I learned that I particularly enjoyed building consumer devices. When Oracle acquired Sun to bring Java and Sun computing hardware into the heart of their enterprise strategy I decided I needed to make a choice -- return to the enterprise space I'd seen extensively at Sun, or move on.
Luckly, I discovered my desire to put technology into peoples’ hands was exactly what Nokia was looking for in growing its presence in Silicon Valley so I moved to Nokia in late 2010 to become part of an advanced engineering group inside the Chief Technology Organization (CTO). While I can't say much about the projects my team worked on (sorry), I can say that we existed to accelerate maturation of resesarch and forward-looking technologies to create differentiating features that can help Nokia products delight consumers and win in the marketpalce. It was a great combination of my years in R&D at Bell Laboratories and my time spent building commercial products at Sun, and our emphasis is on proving hardware and softwawre technology by prototyping (not PowerPoint) so I get to build new things every day.
In 2015 I left Nokia and joined Mozilla to run the Platform Engineering group responsible for Gecko, the core web rendering engine inside the much-loved Firefox browser. Since then I've held a variety of roles including briefly as acting CTO, and most recently as a Mozilla Fellow in the Emerging Technologies group involved in both expanding our developer outreach efforts and helping bring new compelling web experiences to market.
This site exists largely as a place for me to build, document and share my varios projects. (If you're curious about the name there is a backstory behind it.) I've learned from prior attempts that I'm not a long-form blogger having failed so far to master the discipline of regularly sitting down and writing out a fuller narrative. I do hope, though, to ease in that direction by having space here for short blog-style updates on projects and items elsewhere that catch my attention.
I find it fascinating that the room-filling software and hardware I started using in graduate school and on my first job is now something I can buy for $35 and put in my pocket. Controlling hardware and doing basic data processing in C is a booming hobbyist space filled with Arduino and the like. Powerful and infinitely flexible Unix-based systems live on through Raspberry Pi and similar embedded platforms. It's almost like the career I began 30+ years ago was secretly intended to produce precisely the technologies I needed for the creative tinkering that has always filled my spare time. Giving yourself toys is always a good thing...