“The Black Godfather” of Silicon Valley, this programmer helped design HP’s first computers.
Born in Kinloch, Missouri. Coming from humble beginnings, Clay learned how to program computer code while earning a degree at Saint Louis University for mathematics in 1956. Back then, there were no university programs tailored for this skill.
Clay was recruited by David Packard (of Hewlett Packard fame) to set up HP’s computer development business in 1965 after hearing about how Clay wrote software hat showed how particles of radiation would spread through the atmosphere after an atomic explosion.
Clay led the team that introduced HP’s first dip into the computer market with the 2116A computer in 1966. He also wrote the software for the 2116A as well.
He left HP in 1977 to start his own company, ROD-L Electronics, which produced the world’s first Safety Certified Hipot and Ground Continuity Testers. They set the standard in electrical product safety testing while partnering with HP, IBM, AT&T, and Xerox.
His contributions also extended into the political arena; Clay was the first African-American Councilman & Vice Mayor of Palo Alto, California in 1973.