Second acts: Seven tech titans today

What ever happened to Philippe Kahn, Dan Bricklin, Marc Andreessen and other technology wunderkinds?

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Mitch Kapor

Mitch Kapor is most famous for founding Lotus Development Corp. in 1982 alongside partner Jonathan Sachs. Through much of the 1980s, the company's Lotus 1-2-3 business software was ubiquitous in corporate America, thanks to a useful combination of spreadsheets, graphics presentations and database tools.

For a few years, Lotus was one of the largest software companies in the world, making $53 million dollars in its first year, $156 million in its second year, and $258 million in its third. This placed the company on equal footing with Microsoft and Apple, during which time Kapor was a titan of the industry.

Citing his loathing of being in power along with his desire to be more hands-on, Kapor stepped down in 1986 and accepted a teaching position at MIT's Center for Cognitive Science. In 1990, he and Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow created the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to defending citizens' civil liberties in the digital arena.

Mitch Kapor

Mitch Kapor In 2001, Kapor founded the Open Source Applications Foundation, which has developed the Chandler Project, a cross-platform open-source personal information manager that supports Outlook-like functions such as calendars and e-mail.

These days, Kapor lives in San Francisco with his wife and serves on the board of directors of the Mozilla Foundation, a nonprofit group dedicated to maintaining low barriers of entry to the Internet. He is also on the board of Linden Lab, maker of the popular virtual environment Second Life. Kapor's Mitchell Kapor Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to environmental, educational and civic equity, with an emphasis on low-income communities of color.

In 2006, Kapor launched a new Internet start-up named Foxmarks Inc. The company's Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer allows users to automatically sync bookmarks between two or more systems running Mozilla Firefox. The company's next act is ambitious: Foxmarks is hoping to utilize its members' bookmarks to provide highly intelligent contextual next-generation Internet search.

Peter Norton

Looking back at the '80s and '90s, it's hard to believe that there was a long stretch of time when third-party software utility companies made a financial killing by reselling add-on applications to enhance, maintain or fix Windows and DOS.

Peter Norton's software shop, named Peter Norton Computing, was one of the most prominent and successful during this heyday. In the early 1980s, Norton released Norton Utilities, a suite of tools that allowed users to recover deleted data from disks, amongst other useful functions. This software tool suite was the foundation of an empire.

The Peter Norton Programmer's Guide to the IBM PC

The Peter Norton Programmer's Guide to the IBM PC In short succession, the company released a number of applications for programmers and end users, including Norton Commander, Norton Editor and Norton guides. Norton's book, The Peter Norton Programmer's Guide to the IBM PC, was considered a bible for many programmers; he went on to pen dozens of computing books over the years. Peter Norton products had the distinction of featuring a photograph of Mr. Norton, arms crossed, on the cover.

In 1990, Norton sold his company to another software utility company, Symantec, which continued to release products under the Norton brand name: Norton AntiVirus, Norton Internet Security, Norton SystemWorks (which includes the Norton Utilities tools) and more.

A former Buddhist monk, Norton moved on to the nonprofit sector with a focus on the arts. Shortly after selling to Symantec, he established the Peter Norton Family Foundation, which provides financial support to modern arts organizations. He is currently president of the foundation and participates on the boards of numerous colleges, museums and art institutes.

Norton, who lives in Washington state, is frequently recognized for owning one of the largest collections of modern art in the world. His pieces are on display and loan in museums across the globe.

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