Rather than attending university straight after high school, Joe chose to enlist in the British Merchant Navy, where he trained, and served, as a Marine Engineering officer. While a cadet at Glasgow Nautical College, he was introduced to Electronics Engineering, at which he excelled, finding it interesting both as a field of study and as a hobby. During the long voyages across the oceans, Joe pursued practical and academic correspondence courses in electronics, obtained from the British National School of Radio and the International Correspondence Schools.
With the decline in the British shipping industry, in the late 70s, he came ashore to study for a degree in Electrical Engineering and Electronics, at Dundee Institute of Technology. While there, he was approached by Timex Corporation with an offer of sponsorship, which he accepted. This involved doing summer internships at their Dundee premises and agreeing to work in their employ for at least two years after graduation.
During this time, Timex was contracted to build Sir Clive Sinclair’s home computers, the ZX81 and the ZX Spectrum, and this afforded Joe a thorough grounding in computer architecture and microprocessor technology. After leaving Timex, he went on to design microprocessor-controlled underwater cameras for the North Sea Oil Support Industry and, in the early 90s, designed and built a working digital camera, long before such things were commonplace, or even known to the public.
The 1995 oil industry slump led to Joe’s being laid off, and he took this as an opportunity to revisit the USA, where, as a young mariner, he had experienced the excitement of the bicentennial. As a means of getting over the “redundancy blues” Joe arranged a trip to visit his email pen friend in Colorado, being an early adapter of the then blossoming Internet phenomenon. Not only did he visit his pen friend, he married her, thereby making Colorado his new home. For the next eighteen years, Joe worked for a medical device manufacturer, in the Denver area, where he specialized in designing functional testers for circuit boards. Towards this end he made use of his training in software engineering to develop a method for producing extremely reliable, reusable software. His circuit board testers were used to verify functionality, debug faulty boards down to component level and even identify faults within multi-million transistor Integrated Circuits.
Having long given up electronics as a hobby, Joe took up photography and was delighted at the advanced features of digital cameras; a far-cry from his pioneering prototype. While perusing a photography magazine, he was introduced to the concept of remotely triggering a camera based on environmental variables. Further investigation led to disappointment with what the marketplace had to offer, however, and so Joe decided to build such a device for his own use. Using his skills in mechanical, electrical and software engineering, he put together a working unit, which could be programmed to take photographs based on sound, light, time, distance to subject and movement, or any combination of these parameters. Being solely for personal use, this project was housed in a utilitarian, orthogonal box. When Joe discovered an off-the-shelf enclosure that could be customised to incorporate the circuit cards, sensors, display and keyboard in an attractive, functional, hand-held unit, however, he began toying with the idea of going into production, providing a level of functionality that was so far lacking in the market.
Around this time, Joe made the acquaintance of a rather remarkable marketing professional, who convinced him that this was not only a worthwhile ambition, it was realizable by following a proven set of procedures. Thus was born Snaperture, the all-in-one camera trigger.