Computer pioneer Richard A. (Dick) Pick, who created software that today is used by about 3 million people worldwide, has died of stroke complications. He was 56.
Pick, a Newport Beach resident, was founder and chief executive officer of Pick Systems Inc. in Irvine, the company that perfected and sold the novel software used primarily on business computers. He suffered a stroke Oct. 6 and died Monday at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of the industry’s true legends,” said Brian Stone, who was chosen as acting chief executive officer of Pick Systems. “Dick’s foresight and intelligence leaves a lasting legacy for us all.”
Pick, a UC Berkeley physics graduate, began his computer industry career at TRW in El Segundo, where he was hired to help write a computer program that would keep track of an Army helicopter project.
The Army, as it turned out, decided to scrap the helicopter project before the program was finished. The unfinished program became public domain, and Pick added a few of his own ideas to create a computer database management system that he believed he could copyright and market.
He licensed the enhanced system to Irvine computer maker Microdata in 1973 and formed Pick Systems in 1982 to expand efforts to market the system.
A database management system is the software that organizes data so that different computer systems can have access to it at the same time, creating a central library of information.
What made Pick’s system special was its ability to be installed on many different brands of computers and to store additional information in a computer’s memory and retrieve it quicker than competing systems.
Today, Pick Systems has 120 employees and offices in Moscow, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Its software is used on 250,000 multi-user computer systems.
An outgoing man, Pick was working to create an artificial reef off Newport Beach as a way of preserving marine life and the coastline.
Pick is survived by his wife, Zion, of Newport Beach; daughters Susan Jackson of Colorado Springs, Colo., and Linda Rallo of Chesterfield, Mo.; son Mark Pick of Corona del Mar; and sister Barbara Pick-Mooney of San Gabriel. Funeral arrangements were pending.