Thursday, November 23, 2017

God Bless Dick Morley - PLC God and Manufacturing Thought Leader

As I think about the many things I am grateful for today on Thanksgiving, I think about people who I had the privilege to know that have passed away this year.   On October 17th, Dick Morley passed away at the age of 84.  Dick would certainly be on the Mount Rushmore of manufacturing thought leaders.

Here are my memories of Dick.  Some of these are from my blog post when I went I up to see Dick in 2014 which I called:  Spending The Afternoon With Dick Morley - Priceless

In 2000, Dick Morley and I gave talks at AMT's Annual Meeting in Puerto Rico. I was speaking on the Internet and Dick was giving one of his incredible talks on manufacturing. Dick and I had lunch in Puerto Rico and we discussed open source and manufacturing. When I got back to the DC area, I sent Dick a copy of Eric Raymond's book, The Cathedral and the Bazaar.

Fast Forward 14 years.  Dick was a Director at Memex Automation (now just called MEMEX). When I asked how we were asking Dick to help Memex Automation, outside of the duties of being a Director, we were not working with Dick as closely as I would have thought.  I told Dave McPhail, our CEO, that I would like to reach out to Dick.  Thomas Smeenk, our VP of BD at Memex Automation at the time, reached out to Dick.  Dick was very generous and said he would enjoy it if I made the trip up to New Hampshire to visit him.  So I made the trip up there, and what a thrill that was!

When I was up there, we discussed mostly physics - which was fascinating for me.  We then went into a variety of topics and then discussed Memex Automation and where we should take the technology.  We spent some time talking about his many foster children and his wife - who had passed away.

The first topic Dick brought up was that he dropped out of MIT and did I know other famous people who dropped out of college.  When I rattled off Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg to name just a few, he quickly understood that I knew Dick was in an important category of those who left college early to pursue their passion.

Above is Dick and I having lunch at a GREAT restaurant near his house called, Parkers Maple Barn.  Dick drew out on the back of the placemat how he invented the PLCBelow is a photo of that placemat. That was a lunch I will never forget.


Below is from Dick's homepage at

"Dick Morley is best known as the father of the programmable controller and is the leading visionary in the field of advanced technological development. He is also an entrepreneur whose consistent successes in the founding of high technology companies has been demonstrated through more than three decades of revolutionary achievements. Mr. Morley is the recipient of the Franklin Institute's prestigious Howard N. Potts Award and is an inductee of the Automation Hall of Fame. He holds more than twenty US and foreign patents, including those for the parallel inference machine, the hand-held terminal, the programmable logic controller and magnetic thin film. Currently, he is the Chairman of the Board of National Center of Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS), Director at Large for the Society Manufacturing Engineers (SME) and a member of the Manufacturing Advisory Board for Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).
Using his studies in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a springboard, Dick Morley has become an internationally recognized pioneer in the fields of computer design, artificial intelligence, automation and technology trend forecasting. As an inventor, author, consultant and engineer Dick Morley has provided the Research and Development community with world changing innovations.
For many years, Dick Morley was a contributing columnist to Manufacturing Systems Magazine. He has also written articles for magazines and journals worldwide including Manufacturing Automation Magazine. In recognition for his ground breaking contributions, Mr. Morley has received numerous awards and honors from such diverse groups as Inc. Magazine (Entrepreneur of the Year), Society of Manufacturing Engineers (Albert M. Sargent Progress Award)"

 Above is Dick in The Barn after we got back from lunch.  I gave him a copy of my book (on the table) MTConnect: To Measure Is To Know, since MTConnect is very important to Memex Automation and manufacturing.  It was a GREAT day and was extremely glad that Dick wants to work closely with me and Memex Automation!
  • 2016 Inducted into the Measurement, Control & Automation Hall of Fame by the Measurement, Control & Automation Association (MCAA)
  • 2016 Control System Integrators Association (CSIA) Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2007–2008 SME Manufacturing Enterprise Council Member
  • 2006–2008 NH Judge - Hi Tech Council Product of the Year
  • 2006 Process Automation Hall of Fame (Control magazine)
  • 2005 SME Board of Directors
  • 1996 Automation Hall of Fame Prometheus Award
  • 1995 SME Fellow
  • 1993 Parallel Processor Design — Flavors
  • 1991 Howard N. Potts Medal
  • 1990 Entrepreneur of the Year
  • 1981 Gould Science & Engineering Fellow
  • Boeing Technical Excellence Award

God bless you Dick Morley - you were one of a kind!