By Kylie D. Roman
Flying in space had been a lifelong dream of entrepreneur, Charles Simonyi. This dream became reality in April 2007 when he became the fifth space tourist and second Hungarian in space.
As part of the Frontiers in Science Lecture Series, Simonyi will share his experience in space with Ohio University at his lecture, "Space Tourist," at 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 21, in Templeton-Blackburn Memorial Auditorium. This lecture is free and open to the public.
Born in Budapest, Hungary, Simonyi became fascinated by space at a young age. At age 13, he was selected as Hungary's Junior Astronaut, for which he won a trip to Moscow and met one of the first cosmonauts, Pavel Popovich.
The trip to the International Space Station required Simonyi, a trained pilot in multiengine aircraft, to undergo six months of training for his 13 days, 18 hours and 59 minutes in space. While on board, he was involved in daily activities and spoke live via the space station's amateur radio with schools in Ohio, Virginia and Washington. His participation in the mission furthered three personal objectives: to advance civilian space flight, assist in space station research and involve the world's youth in the science of space travel.
The realization of this space-flight dream comes after many years of what others might call a dream career. Simonyi moved to Denmark at 17 to pursue work as a computer programmer. In 1968, he moved to the United States and earned his bachelor's degree in engineering and mathematics from the University of California at Berkeley and his doctorate in computer science from Stanford University. He received an honorary doctorate in 2001 from the University of Pecs in Hungary.
From 1972 to 1980, Simonyi worked for Xerox PARC, a research and development company, where he was part of the team that created Bravo, the first WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) document preparation program or word processor.
In 1981, Simonyi joined Microsoft where he led the teams that developed Microsoft's most profitable products, Word and Excel, as well as many other successful software applications.
In 2002, Simonyi founded Bellevue, Wash.-based Intentional Software Corp., where he is currently president and CEO. The firm focuses on improving the way organizations write software.
Also a philanthropist, Simonyi supports arts organizations, science programs and educational institutions through the Charles Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences. In 2005, the fund made a $150,000 commitment to leverage the existing successful relationship between Ohio University's College of Business and the University of Pecs to transfer global business and management models from Ohio University to Pecs.
Former university trustee and alumna Jeanette Grasselli Brown (B.S. '50) and her husband, Glenn R. Brown, created the Frontiers in Science lecture series in 1991 to promote understanding of science and communication between scientists and non-scientists.
For more information on Simonyi's space experience, see www.charlesinspace.com.
Updated at 2:40 p.m. May 8 to correct the time and title of the speech.