Warwickian's quest: to invent the perfect computer

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:15

    Warwick-Alan Graham is certainly an interesting man who has had some very interesting travels in his lifetime. He has developed software for big name corporations, taught at some of the top colleges and universities in the country, rides a unicycle, likes to cook, turned down a job offer from Bill Gates, and plays some mean guitar to some pretty good music. Graham recently settled again in Warwick, the same place he spent his high school years before graduating in 1972 and venturing out into the world. Since 1999, Graham lived in Riga, Latvia, part of the former Soviet Union, founding Omega, Inc., a technology company whose purpose is to invent a simple, yet powerful computer system. "I develop computer products for humans," Graham said. "You don't need a manual. It should be easy to use like a light switch. You can figure it out easily. I have failed if you need the manual." Wouldn't that be great! Graham said he hates computers, but in talking with him you realize that he dislikes the way computers work — or don't work. "Some days they work, sometimes they don't," he said. "The printer isn't printing today. What do we do about it?" He has an answer. He is creating a 13 inch cube that will basically do it all. It will have detachable speakers, maybe a phone. And he guarantees it will not break. "I call it ‘Max in the Box'," Graham said, referring to a very reliable colleague who is working with him on the Beta test. "It's cheaper that way." Graham comes from a family of intellectuals. His grandfather was an inventor and electrical engineer who had over 100 patents. His father, a chemical engineer and businessman, had three chemical patents to his credit. Graham himself has certainly done his share of innovating. As a college student at Syracuse University, where he earned both a bachelors of science degree in mechanical engineering and a master's degree in computer engineering, he wrote a program that was used for over a decade to keep track of students' homework. He worked for IBM, developing software and teaching applications both here in New York and in California. He taught at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie and at Stanford University in California. He went on to work for several financial institutions, including Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, and the Union Bank of Switzerland. Graham's life changed in 1996 when he lost his only son, Christopher, to cancer. After divorcing, he wanted to dive back into work. "Life just wasn't the same anymore," Graham said. So, after a scuba diving trip with a Russian friend, he went to Riga, Latvia, an 800-year-old city that Graham just fell in love with. He stayed for 10 days, returned home to finish a contract job, then returned to Latvia for what was supposed to be 30 days. "Halfway through, I realized life felt normal here," Graham said. "I wasn't reminded of places I went with Chris. I felt like a ghost here so I wanted to stay there." In order to stay, he had to either go to work for someone or start a business. He did the latter, creating Omega. But it takes money to bring these kind of dreams to life. "I'm looking for investors," Graham said. "I need money to get this project off the ground." In the meantime, he came back home to Warwick because of paperwork. "I was deported because of paperwork," he said with a smile. But he seems happy to be here. He is becoming a regular at the Friday open mic at Caffe ala Mode, playing his favorite Beatles tunes. He also plays n and teaches n keyboard and bass. As he talks enthusiastically about his computer cube, he is sure it will be a success. "We are Beta testing our cube with seven computers," he said. "It notices problems and fixes them. You don't have to hire a geek! That's the way it should be. I will guarantee this will work."