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About Martin Heller

Martin has baccalaureate degrees in physics and music from Haverford College as well as Sc.M. and Ph.D. degrees in experimental high-energy physics from Brown University.

Dr. Heller has worked as an accelerator physicist, an energy systems analyst, a computer systems architect, a company division manager, and a consultant. Throughout his career he has used computers as a means to an end, much as a cabinet maker uses hand and power tools.

Martin wrote his first program for a drum-based computer in machine language in the early 1960s. No, not assembly language, machine language. The following year he taught himself Fortran II, and wrote mathematical programs in that language through-out high school.

In college Martin did undergraduate research in high-Q superconducting cavities and in liquid Helium fluid dynamics. His liquid Helium experiment was published in Physical Review Letters.

In graduate school Martin wrote hundreds of programs in MACRO-9 assembler for a DEC PDP-9 computer, and hundreds more Fortran IV, APL, and PL/1 programs for an IBM 360/67. For his Ph.D. thesis he analyzed 500,000 frames of bubble chamber film taken at Argonne National Laboratory and helped take other data at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

At New England Nuclear Corporation (NENC, currently a DuPont subsidiary) Dr. Heller developed an automatic computer data acquisition and control system for an isotope production cyclotron using Fortran IV+ and MACRO-11 on a PDP-11, with additional embedded 6802-based controllers. That was in addition to his primary job, which was to optimize the target cooling and central region design of the cyclotrons.

When NENC acquired a VAX, Martin wrote one of the earliest smart terminal programs, in assembly language for the PDP-11 running RSX-11M. Martin contributed that program to DECUS. His duties at NENC included administrating the PDP-11 and generating new builds of RSX-11M, which often meant reading and correcting MACRO-11 systems code written by a hot systems designer named Dave Cutler, now better known as the father of Windows NT.

At Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) Martin developed a steady-state model of an experimental fuel cell power plant (under contract to the U.S. Department of Energy) in BASIC on a TRS80 Model 3, and designed more advanced plants in BASIC on an early IBM PC. He developed a DOT-compliant crash sled data analysis program and a brake-testing data-acquisition, control, and analysis system in compiled BASIC for General Motors; he also developed the suite of programs that allowed General Motors to successfully defend itself against a government action over X-car braking systems.

Martin designed and developed MetalSelector, a materials selection and materials properties database program, under contract to the American Society for Metals (currently called ASM International), still in compiled BASIC. During the Windows 1.0 Alpha test, he designed EnPlot for the Society’s graphing needs, intending the program for Windows 1.0, and put together a team of programmers to write it in C. When Windows 1.0 started slipping its schedule, Dr. Heller and his team implemented EnPlot for DOS instead of Windows. That turned out to be a good decision, despite the pain of writing DOS device drivers, as Windows 1.0 ultimately slipped its ship date by two years.

Martin responded to the ongoing needs of the materials properties community by designing and implementing MetSel2 (at PSI) and later MatDB, in C for DOS, and EnPlot 2.0 for Windows (in both cases as an independent consultant). EnPlot was developed further to revision 3.5, which ran under Windows 3.1 and above.

While still at PSI, Martin designed two statistical subroutine libraries in Fortran for John Wiley & Sons. Statlib.tsf was a timeseries and forecasting library, and Statlib.gl was a device-independent graphing library built on the GKS graphics standard. Both packages are now out of print.

In partnership with two hotel business consultants, Martin designed and implemented a Windows application, Room Planner, for managing hospitality events and graphically laying out tables, chairs, and so on for actual meetings. Room Planner was eventually sold to a hotel software company in Germany, which was in turn acquired by a POS company.

Martin consulted for a large international pharmaceutical and medical instrumentation company on the real-time and analysis software for a line of blood analyzers. Details of this are probably still proprietary.

Dr. Heller taught various Windows programming courses at Boston University and onsite at local companies as an Adjunct Professor in the 1990s, using his own Windows programming books as the texts for the courses. Martin also spoke regularly at WinDev conferences during this period.

Martin spent roughly two years, starting in the fall of 1999, working on PC Pitstop. There, with a partner, he designed and implemented the SQL Server database, IIS web server objects and ASP scripting, client-side ActiveX controls (in C++ with ATL), and client-side JavaScript. He and his partner worked with two web designers to implement the look and feel of the site. By October 2001, the site was receiving over 50,000 visits per day; the site is still active, having survived the dot-com bust.

Martin is familiar with all Windows operating systems, many Linux operating systems, a few embedded and mobile operating systems, and most programming languages. He is currently Vice President of Technology and Education at Alpha Software. He is also a Contributing Editor, reviewer and blogger for InfoWorld.

Martin's publications are summarized here.


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Last Updated: 06/22/11
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