Peter Barrett

Founder & CTO

Biography

Peter Barrett

Founder & CTO

Peter Barrett is a 30-year veteran of the tech industry. He created the first widely used video codec, led TV development efforts at Microsoft, and has authored more than 110 patents.

In 1991, he developed Cinepak, video compression software that was initially released as part of Apple’s QuickTime media player and was later integrated into the Microsoft Windows platform.

He co-founded Rocket Science Games, a pioneer of CD-ROM games, and later worked on WebTV, along with Bruce Leak and Andy Rubin. After Microsoft acquired WebTV, he ran the software giant’s IPTV efforts as chief technology officer and general manager for 13 years.

As a kid, Peter baked printed circuit boards in his mother’s oven and built a bug zapper that used voltage multipliers. At age 15, he started a business of soldering memory onto motherboards, upgrading Macs from 128K of RAM to 1MB.

“I look for curiosity and that maker gene in entrepreneurs,” he says, adding “it’s a common profile” at Playground.

Peter recently re-created classic 8-bit arcade games such as Pac-Man, Ballblaster, and Joust with an Arduino, a feat one hacker site said “just shouldn’t be possible.”

The project reflects one of the Peter’s favorite things: making “something improbable out of the simplest, absolute minimum of things. Constraints are incredibly powerful.”

It’s a valuable skill, he says. “It trains you to recognize that, if something isn’t working, or it's too slow, or it's too hard, or it uses too much power, or it crashes all the time, there's always a way of solving the problem,” he says. “There's always something clever you can do.”

Calling Playground a team of “young geniuses and old masters,” Barrett says diversity of opinion, gender, background, and age will keep ideas fresh and plausible.

“This place is constantly refreshed with the volcanic activity of new companies, people and insights.” he says. “It's keeping the soil fertile.”



Co-founder and CTO, CloudCar: Cloud-based driving
Publisher: Rossum blog for building hardware and software devices
His projects are frequently featured on Hackaday.
Author of over 110 patents
Inventor: Quicktime Cinepak
CTO and General Manager: Microsoft TV