Monday, December 23, 2013

Faces of FreeBSD - Kevin Martin


Each week we are sharing a story from someone involved in FreeBSD. This is our Faces of FreeBSD series. It may be a story from someone who’s received funding from us to work on development projects, run conferences, travel to conferences, or advocate for FreeBSD. Or, it may be from someone who gives back to FreeBSD financially or in another way. But, it is always from someone who is making a positive difference in the FreeBSD world.

Here’s a chance to get to know your fellow FreeBSD enthusiast. Sit back and enjoy another 2013 Faces of FreeBSD story.

Kevin's Story

My name is Kevin Martin, and I am the CEO and Founder of pair Networks, Inc. I've been a computer person since I was very young. My father made a wise investment in the very first Model 5150 of the IBM PC. He brought home the 64KB model with two floppy disk drives in October 1981, and I immediately moved up from writing games on the HP-41C, and in BASIC on notebook paper.

In junior high and high school, I was "that kid" who helped fix computers, whether in the school's library or main office.  When I attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (for Computer Science, naturally), there were SunOS 4.1 workstations available to students, and I jumped into BSD-flavored UNIX with both feet.  Soon I was an assistant at the Image Processing Lab, which had the latest and greatest equipment on campus.

My other passion is pinball. As a pre-teen I hung out in the arcade when my mother went to her bowling league.  In college I discovered pinball tournaments, and started attending. Eventually I took over the Professional & Amateur Pinball Association and started running the world's largest pinball tournaments, twice yearly, just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  More recently, I founded Replay Foundation, a non-profit that promotes the preservation, restoration, and enjoyment of pinball, with an emphasis on the player experience.

In the summer of 1995, I founded pair Networks, with an eye towards simple Web design projects.  I’d been running an FTP/Web site called "The Pinball Archive" since early 1993, and was paying a series of obscure ISPs to host it. While working on ideas for pair, I noticed that the latest ISP I was using, Best Internet Communications, was migrating their servers from BSDI to FreeBSD.

Curious, I borrowed a server from my uncle and installed FreeBSD 2.0.5. I was impressed and immediately hooked.  My experience with SunOS, combined with the power of FreeBSD, made it possible to launch my own hosting company—which is what pair Networks became.  In January 1996, our T-1 to Digital Express came online, and pair was launched with just a couple of Pentium servers, all running FreeBSD 2.1.  The Pinball Archive had found its permanent home.

Over the past 18 years, FreeBSD has been an asset to our operations, and while we have branched out a bit, we still primarily use FreeBSD and promote it whenever possible.  FreeBSD is a terrific technology with a terrific community.

Kevin Martin

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