I first met in-person the man you all knew as "Felger Carbon" in about 1983. By then he had become my friend through correspondence and phone calls (Remember, Al hadn't yet invented the Internet) that began at least 2 years earlier when I became a customer of Digital Acoustics, his company in Santa Ana, CA.
He used his real name then, Hal W. Hardenbergh. He adopted the nom de plume
Felger Carbon about 15 years ago when he finally dropped the name "Former FNE", referring to his original editorial persona Felgercarb N. Eloi, usually abbreviated as FNE. Under that name he wrote and published the DTACK Grounded
newsletter (see, http://linux.monroeccc.edu/~paulrsm/dg/dg01.htm
) through most of the 1980s while he also ran Digital Acoustics.
D.A. had been formed (using proceeds of a previous very successful business) to make microprocessor-based acoustic-measurement instruments for a market of noise-pollution control that failed to materialize. So...Hal went into the business of making other sorts of computer-based gadgets, including the one that made me his customer: an add-on board for the Commodore PET or Apple II that supercharged them with a Motorola MC68000 processor with its data-throttling pin (DTACK) firmly grounded--a pedal-to-the-metal hot rod in its day. These products proved to have a limited market, despite working fabulously well and being comparatively very inexpensive.
When "Kindly Uncle Jack" (In his very entertaining D.G. stories FNE always called Commodore founder Jack Tramiel that or "KUJ") brought out the Atari ST, the first freestanding MC68000 hot rod, Hal decided that he'd become the next Bill Gates by offering a compiled BASIC for the machine, to be called "DBASIC". His business model would be to give away the compiler, but sell the manual. He almost single-handedly wrote the compiler (I think that James Shaker helped a bit) and I helped him write some of the manual. Hal folded up the D.A. tent and moved to Santa Fe, NM to open DTACK Grounded, Inc and sell DBASIC manuals.
It took less than about 6 months to very firmly establish that this business model was not going to work for the Atari ST market. Hal carted all the unsold copies of the manual to the dump, declared himself an "unemployed bum", and moved to Santa Clara, CA where there were far more engineering jobs than in Santa Fe at the time (ca. 1988).
In Santa Clara, Hal worked for a couple of video-processor specialty companies for a few years, while continuing to send irregular issues of an abbreviated newsletter that he called "Dear Folks", which dealt with various industry trends, such as the evolution of memory sizes and costs and the hard disk drive cost-size "sweet spot". Then he decided that it was time to retire and just play with computer toys for his own (and his friends') amusement.
He then played with computer toys and wrote entertainingly about it for about 10 years, stopping only long enough to relocate to Klamath Falls when his Santa Clara lease expired and he realized that he had no further need to live in crowded Silicon Valley. About that time he also discovered SPCR and got back to his old passion, acoustics and noise. But it seems that sometime recently his deteriorating health finally overcame his strongly optimistic outlook and he decided to do something else, something at least as dramatic and decisive as his previous career changes had been. He bought a gun.
We've carried on a nearly daily email correspondence ever since Hal got an ISP account. These replaced our phone calls and letters of long ago and I've gotten used to not hearing Hal's voice very often. But it's going to be difficult to stop looking for those notes in my inbox.