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Kurtzig Steps Down as ASK’s Chief Executive

Thirteen years ago, Sandra Kurtzig founded ASK Computer Systems Inc. in a spare bedroom of her Silicon Valley apartment, fully intending it to be a part-time job while she pursued her real goal: motherhood. But, business took precedence over parenting and Kurtzig’s dinky company grew. It now is one of the country’s largest makers of computer systems for manufacturing firms, with sales approaching $100 million this year, and is the nation’s largest high-tech company founded by a woman.

But Kurtzig, now 38 and a mother of 12- and 9-year-old boys, is getting back to her original goal. Thursday she turned the reins of Los Altos-based ASK over to Ronald W. Braniff, who now is chief executive as well as the company’s president.

Kurtzig remains as board chairman, a position that will be part time and allow her to take art appreciation courses and spend time with her children, she said in a telephone interview Thursday.

Braniff, 49, has been a member of ASK’s board of directors since 1980 and president of ASK since January, 1984. Before joining ASK, he was group vice president of Tymshare Inc. Braniff started his career in the computer business in 1962 with IBM. Kurtzig said she brought Braniff to ASK 18 months ago with the intention of turning the company’s day-to-day operations over to him as soon as a smooth transition could be completed.

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