Biography of Les Earnest

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Les is more

 A web search shows about fifty Les Earnests in world history. Ten are Lesters, including my late father and me, and the rest are Leslies or similar, some male and some female. Happily there have been no More Earnests. Marian’s and my merged family has five children, seven grandchildren and five great grandchildren so far, being various combinations of European, Yup’ik Eskimo, Filipino, African and Puerto Rican.


 Les Earnest on Greenspeed X5

Personal Web Site

The importance of being Earnest

My patrilineal great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather John Wilhelm Ernst migrated from Germany to Pennsylvania in the early 1700s. About a century later his Pennsylvania Dutch descendants changed the family name to Earnest. Like everyone of Eurasian descent I’m part Neanderthal—2.6% according to my DNA profile—which perhaps helps explain my attitude.


1988-present  Senior Research Computer Scientist Emeritus, Stanford University

1985-88 Associate Chair, Computer Science Dept., Stanford University

1966-80,’85 -88 Lecturer in Computer Science, Stanford University

1965-80 Executive officer, Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

1960 MS in EE, MIT

1956-57 Staff Member, MIT Lincoln Laboratory

1953 BS in EE, Caltech


1991-present Chairman, Board of Directors, GeoGroup Inc., Menlo Park, CA

1980-85 Founding President and Director, Imagen Corp., Santa Clara, CA

1958-65 Subdepartment Head, Mitre Corp., Bedford, MA & Arlington, VA


1994-present Member, ASTM International F08.53 Standards Committee (Headgear)

1964-present Member (now Life), IEEE

1955-present Member, ACM

1991-93: Member, Organizing and Advisory Committees of first three Conferences on Computers, Freedom and Privacy

1988-96 Member, American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z90 Standards Committee (Helmets)

1980 Treasurer, First National Conference of American Association for Artificial Intelligence

1974-76 Chairman, ACM Special Interest Group on Artificial Intelligence (SIGART)

1973-77 Local Arrangements Chair and Secretary-Treasurer, International Joint Conferences on Artificial Intelligence

1960-80 Member, Sigma Xi


ROUT, the first search engine, 1961.

First spelling checker, 1961. First successful cursive handwriting recognizer, 1962.

Hand-eye robot: initiated experimental system using computer vision to control a mechanical arm, 1966-68.

Autonomous road vehicle: initiated creation of vehicle with TV camera for visual guidance, 1966-69.

Computer networking: member of ARPAnet startup committee, 1967-68.

Created Finger, the first social networking program, which also allowed individuals to post what are now called blogs, 1975.

First computer-controlled vending machine, called the Prancing Pony, which sold on credit and offered buyers “Double or nothing”, 1973.

Modernized bicycle racing rules of U.S. Cycling Federation, 1978-99, and FIAC, 1999-present.

First desktop publishing system using laser printers: founded IMAGEN Corp., 1981.

Bicycle racing drug control: wrote first regulations for USCF, 1984.

Bicycle racing helmets: introduced USCF strong helmet rule that has since saved many lives, 1985.

Modular software distribution: invented cryptographic scheme, U.S. Patent 4,888,798, 1989.

First roller skating helmet standards: ASTM standards, 1996, 1997, 2002.


Married to former high school classmate Marian Lofgren, PhD.

Military Service

1953-56 U.S. Navy Aviation Electronics Officer & Digital Computer Project Officer, Naval Air Development Center, Johnsville, PA.


1982-present Consultant and expert witness on the history of computer technology and bicycle racing rules.

Bicycle Racing Journal


2004-present Executive Director, Federation of Independent Associations for Cycling (FIAC)

1933-present Avid cyclist, 1973-2000 Licensed racer.

1999-present Founding member, Director of FIAC

1995-96 Founding Director and Secretary of USA Cycling

1984-99 UCI National Commissaire (bike race official)

1984 Director of the Road, Olympic Games, Los Angeles

1980-85 Delegate to U.S. Olympic Committee from USCF

1979-99 Director and sometimes officer of U.S. Cycling Federation

1973-present Bicycle race official for local, national and international events

1950-52 Caltech football offensive tackle & defensive guard (All Conference, 1951)

1947 & 1949 Cross-country runner in Hoover High School, San Diego, CA, & college

1946-49 Basketball manager in high school, Louisville, KY & college

Film Actor

Appear as a bike race official in American Flyers (1985), co-starring with Kevin Costner for 2.3 seconds.

Community Service

Mostly in the Town of Los Altos Hills, CA

2012-present Traffic Safety Committee

2008-2011 History Committee

2003-2006 Pathways Map Committee

1998-2000 Member & Chair, Santa Clara County/VTA Bicycle Advisory Committee

1997-99 Member, Santa Clara County Interjurisdictional Trails Committee

1993-99 Member & Chair, Pathways Committee

1986-97 Director & Chair, Mid-peninsula Chapter of ACLU