PESA Co-Founder Frank Zimmerman Retires

PESA announced the retirement of Frank Zimmerman, one of the company’s co-founders. With the late Dick Swan, Zimmerman established Communication Technology, Inc. (ComTec), the company that would eventually become PESA, in 1973. Zimmerman has remained with the company throughout its 43-year history.

unnamed-4ComTec focused primarily on small routing switchers, finding early success with a 40×20 router that required about 18 RU. ComTec was purchased by 3M in 1978 after designing a small OEM production switcher, but 3M later decided to focus on routing and control systems. Zimmerman and his team developed the first microprocessor control system in the industry, and won a 3M Golden Step Award for technical and market sales achievement.

Prior to the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea, Zimmerman designed a semi-custom 4×1 video crosspoint, placing eight of the crosspoints on a ceramic hybrid substrate to create a 16×2 video crosspoint. He designed seven hybrid circuits that became the basis for the 128×32 Series H hybrid switcher. While routing switchers were a very small part of 3M, Zimmerman was awarded the 3M Circle of Technical Excellence at the corporate scientist level for the Series H hybrid technology. A few years later, after 3M had sold its video manufacturing business and PESA had been established as a separate company, Zimmerman expanded the design to a 256×32 for network coverage of the Summer and Winter Olympics.

When the industry transitioned to analog HD, Zimmerman developed the System 5 100MHz analog video switcher, which started a bandwidth war in the industry that continues to this day. Customers did not need 100MHz bandwidth, but it allowed them to “future proof” their distribution chain at a time of great uncertainty in the market about HD technologies. Later, he designed PESA’s very successful Cheetah line of digital video routers, implementing innovative ideas to reduce rack size and lower system costs.

“Frank is leaving behind quite a legacy at PESA, but I’d say his most important contribution has been his continued willingness to share his knowledge and help others understand our technologies,” says Christopher Thomas, PESA President. “We all want to thank him for so many great years and great memories. Frank has remained an active part of the PESA family and we will miss him.”