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Philippe Kahn
Philippe Kahn.JPG
Born (1952-03-16) March 16, 1952 (age 67)[1][2][3]
Paris, France
OccupationInventor, Entrepreneur

Philippe Kahn (born March 16, 1952)[4] is a mathematician, technology innovator, entrepreneur and founder of four technology companies: Fullpower Technologies, LightSurf Technologies, Starfish Software and Borland. Kahn is credited with creating the first camera phone,[5][6] being a pioneer for wearable technology intellectual property, and is the author of dozens of technology patents covering wearable, eyewear, smartphone, mobile, imaging, wireless, synchronization and medical technologies.[7][8]

Early life and education

Kahn grew up in Paris, France. He was born to Jewish immigrants of modest means. His mother, Claire Monis, was an Auschwitz survivor, violinist and lieutenant in the French resistance. His father was a self-educated mechanical engineer with a socialist bent.[9][10]

Kahn was educated in mathematics at the ETH Zurich, Switzerland (Swiss Federal Polytechnic Institute), on a full scholarship and University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, France. He received a masters in mathematics. He also received a masters in musicology composition and classical flute performance at the Zurich Music Conservatory in Switzerland. As a student, Kahn developed software for the MICRAL, which is credited by the Computer History Museum as the first ever microprocessor-based personal computer.[11]


Philippe Kahn working on the first camera phones
Philippe Kahn working on the first camera phones
June 11th, 1997, Santa Cruz, CA: Image taken by Philippe Kahn after his daughter's birth.
June 11th, 1997, Santa Cruz, CA: Image taken by Philippe Kahn after his daughter's birth.
July 1st, 2010, Double Jeopardy question
July 1st, 2010, Double Jeopardy question

Kahn has founded four software companies: Fullpower Technologies, founded in 2003, LightSurf Technologies, founded in 1998 (acquired by Verisign in 2005), Starfish Software, founded in 1994 (acquired by Motorola in 1998, and subsequently Google in 2011), and Borland, founded in 1982 (acquired by Micro Focus in 2009).

Borland (1982–1994): compilers and tools

Kahn was CEO of Borland from 1982 to 1994,[12] when Borland was a competitor of Microsoft, and produced programming language compilers and software development tools.[13] Its first product, Turbo Pascal, sold for $49.95[14] at a time when programming tools cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Kahn was President, CEO, and Chairman of Borland and, without venture capital, took Borland from no revenues to a US$500 million run-rate. Kahn and the Borland board came to a disagreement on how to focus the company and in January 1995, Kahn was forced by the board to resign from his position as CEO.[15]

Starfish Software (1994–1998): wireless synchronization

Starfish Software was founded in 1994 by Philippe Kahn as a spin-off from the Simplify business unit from Borland and Kahn's severance from Borland. TrueSync was the first Over-The-Air (OTA) synchronization system. Starfish was successfully acquired by Motorola [14] for US$325 million in 1998.

LightSurf Technologies (1997–2005): camera-phone

Kahn founded LightSurf in 1998 shortly after he had created the first camera phone solution sharing pictures instantly on public networks in 1997.[16][17] The impetus for this invention was the birth of Kahn's daughter; he jury-rigged a connection between a mobile phone and a digital camera and sent off photos in real time.[18][19][20][21] Kahn later said "I had always wanted to have this all working in time to share my daughter’s birth photo, but I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. It’s always the case that if it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would ever get done." [22]

In 2016 Time Magazine included Kahn's first camera phone photo in their list of the 100 most influential photos of all time.[23] In 2017, Subconscious Films created a short film recreating the day that Philippe instantly shared the first camera-phone photo of the birth of his daughter Sophie.[24]

In 2005, LightSurf was acquired by Verisign[14] for US$300 million. Syniverse Technologies acquired Lightsurf from Verisign in 2009.

Fullpower Technologies (2003–present): wearable technology

Fullpower, founded in 2003, provides a patented ecosystem for wearable and Internet of Things sensor-fusion solutions supporting networks of sensors. The inspiration behind some of the key Fullpower technology stems from Kahn's passion for sailing. During a demanding race requiring sailors to sleep less than an hour every 24-hour period, Kahn began experimenting with biosensors and three-axis linear accelerometers that could detect micromovements and provide meaningful recommendations. Kahn created prototype sleep trackers using biosensors that optimized 26-minute power naps to maximize sleep benefits and sail time.[25]

Gay rights advocacy

Under Kahn's direction, Borland became the first software company to offer domestic partners full benefits and a pioneer for gay rights in Silicon Valley. Kahn was a key speaker at the pivotal gay rights conference on the Apple campus on October 19, 1993.[26]

Personal life

Kahn has four children. The first three – Laura, Estelle and Samuel – are from his first marriage. He later married to Sonia Lee, with whom he has a daughter, Sophie[6]. Sonia co-founded three of Kahn's companies with him: Fullpower Technologies, LightSurf and Starfish Software.

Sailing and sports

Philippe Kahn's focus on the environment and the outdoors led him to the sport of sailing. Kahn's sailing team, Pegasus Racing, competes in many world championships each year around the world. An offshore sailor with over 10 trans-Pacific crossings, Kahn holds the Transpac double handed record from San Francisco to Oahu, Hawaii.[27]

Recent sailing achievements also include winning the double handed division of the 2009 Transpacific Yacht Race from Los Angeles to Hawaii, and setting the Transpac record at 7 days, 19 hours, beating the previous time of 10 days, 4 hours.[25]

Kahn's son Samuel ("Shark") also took up sailing as a boy.[28] In his teenage years he had several outstanding race wins, including the 2003 Melges 24 Worlds race right after he turned 15. [29] He has competed against his father.[30] .


  1. ^ Harry Henderson (2003). A to Z of computer scientists. Infobase Publishing. p. 127. ISBN 978-0-8160-4531-0. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
  2. ^ Lewis, Peter H. (August 18, 1991). "The Executive Computer; Philippe Kahn of Borland, in His Own Words". The New York Times. Retrieved January 16, 2012.
  3. ^ Parks, Bob (October 2000). "The Big Picture". Wired Magazine. Retrieved February 7, 2012.
  4. ^ Darrow, Barbara (November 10, 1999). "Phillipe Kahn". CRN. Computer Reseller News. Retrieved February 19, 2012.
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b Epstein, Sonia (August 2018). "The Birth of the Camera Phone". Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  7. ^ "iPhoneographers learn from the pros at 1197 conference". Macworld. 24 October 2011.
  8. ^ "MEMS Journal -- The Largest MEMS Publication in the World".
  9. ^ Weber, Jonathan (February 23, 1992). "Kahn the Barbarian". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 7, 2012.
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Philippe Kahn (June 15, 2005). "Vision". Retrieved March 6, 2014.
  13. ^ "30 Years Ago: Turbo Pascal, BASIC Turn PCs Into Programming Engines".
  14. ^ a b c "Triangulation 318 Philippe Kahn | TWiT.TV". Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  15. ^ Kellner, Krey, Jeffers, Parks
  16. ^ Parks, Maney, Agger, Krey
  17. ^ Kanellos
  18. ^ Kahn, NPR interview
  19. ^ Michael Agger (17 January 2007). "When camera phones attack". Slate Magazine.
  20. ^ Robert Sullivan (2011). 100 Photographs That Changed The World. LIFE Books. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-60320-176-6.
  21. ^ Larry Magid (9 June 2017). "A baby girl and the camera phone were born 20 years ago". Mercury News.
  22. ^ Tekla S. Perry (11 June 2017). "Happy Birthday, Camera Phone! Your Papa Is Very Proud of You". IEEE Spectrum.
  23. ^
  24. ^ 1997: The Birth of the Camera Phone,
  25. ^ a b "How an Obsessive Sailor and His Fitness Tracker Supercharged Yacht Racing". Wired. Retrieved February 19, 2015.
  26. ^ Groves, Martha (October 19, 1993). "Advocates of Gay Rights Look to Technology to Further the Cause". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
  27. ^ Transpacific Yacht Race – The perfect ride? – By Kimball Livingston, 7:40 AM on Thu May 19, 2011
  28. ^ "Kahn and Son Share a Passion". Sailing World. Retrieved 2019-02-21.
  29. ^ "Shark Kahn serves notice for Etchells Worlds". Retrieved 2019-02-21.
  30. ^ Fisher, Daniel (Feb 28, 2005). "Eat My Wake". Forbes. Retrieved 2019-02-21.

Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 4 October 2019, at 17:14
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