Pioneers In Innovation Bring Together Three Legends Of Internet Access

Spartanburg, S.C. (September 2, 2015)  – Three legendary innovators will discuss their renowned careers, how innovation has evolved and shaped lives over the years, and where Internet technology is headed in the near future on Monday, September 14 as the Johnson Innovation Speaker Series presents its “Pioneers In Innovation,” which is sponsored by the George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics at the University of South Carolina Upstate.

Esther Dyson, founding chairman (1998-2000) of the organization (ICANN) that registers web addresses; Dennis Hayes, the Spartanburg native who invented the first computer modem to connect personal computers to the Internet; and David Pensak, founder of one of the first firewalls to make surfing the Web safe; will share the stage in the David Reid Theatre at the Chapman Cultural Center from 5 to 6 p.m. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. for a book signing and a brief reception and a BBQ and Band Party featuring the neo-soul band Okra” begins at 6:15 p.m. The cost for all three events is $15 and $8 for college students.

Dyson is the founder of HICCup, the organization behind the Way to Wellville Accelerator (; one of its five Wellville communities is Spartanburg.  Her primary activity is investing in and nurturing start-ups, with a recent focus on health, human capital and aerospace. She has had a long career in “innovation,” but now she is more focused on implementation rather than innovation: “We know how people can be healthy,” she says.  “So let’s make it happen!”

Her board seats include 23andMe, Luxoft, Meetup, PA Consulting, Pressreader, Voxiva, XCOR, Aerospace, Yandex, and nonprofits including ExpandED Schools, the Long Now Foundation, the Sunlight Foundation, and the Personal Genome Project. Dyson is a member of the World Economic Forum and Global Agenda Council on Fostering Entrepreneurship. She has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard and a completion certificate from Russia’s Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center. In addition, she wrote the best-selling, widely translated book Release 2.0: A Design for Living in the Digital Age, published by Broadway Books in 1997.

Hayes is the inventor of the first PC Modem, which is largely responsible for the global landscape of business and the social interactions known today as the World Wide Web. His company, Hayes Microcomputer Products Inc., dominated the market for PC modems in the 1980s and early 1990s when he introduced the Hayes command set. A modem, short for modulator-demodulator, would turn data into tones, sending those tones along the telephone line, so an analog system could mimic a digital one. This invention provided an easy to use and affordable way to access the Internet thus forever changing the way the world communicates. Not only did Hayes invent the modem but he also developed the concept, took the product to market, and built the Hayes Microcomputer company from the ground up gaining worldwide distribution and making billions of dollars in sales and revenue. In his role as the chairman of Hayes, he worked closely with the governor and state legislature of Georgia. The Smithsonian has had an exhibit dedicated to Hayes and his invention and he was inducted into the CRN Computer Hall of Fame for his overall contributions to the computer industry.

After successfully guiding Hayes Microcomputer Products Inc. through a merger that resulted in a new, publicly-owned Hayes Corporation, he retired as chairman in 1998 to pursue strategic management consulting endeavors. He has since served as a board member of several public and private companies. His most recent venture, Hayes Security, provides cybersecurity consulting services for enterprise and non-profit organizations and provides functional testing services for software development companies. Hayes Security is a member of the GreenHouse Business Incubator where he assists other members with his entrepreneurial experience to be successful. He served as a founder and co-chair of the Public Policy Committee of CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry Association.

Hayes attended the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he served on the National Advisory Board and worked closely with the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) and the Global Center for Advanced Telecommunications Technology (GCATT). He was a founding board member of the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA). He was the founder of the Georgia High Tech Alliance, which later merged with BETA then with Women in Technology to become the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG), which now has more than 10,000 members. Hayes founded and served as chairman of the U.S. Internet Industry Association (U.S.IIA) for 15 years where he focused on public policy regarding the Internet at the federal and state level. In April 2015, Hayes returned to Spartanburg where serves as an active member of the Spartanburg Banquet Committee for the Harry Hampton Wildlife Fund, which raises money to support the Department of Natural Resources.

Pensak is one of our country’s most prolific and successful innovators. He recently founded Vaporiety after a distinguished 30-year career at DuPont, where he held myriad senior research positions and served as a corporate technology growth champion, providing guidance for and managing advanced computer-technology explorations and development and advanced materials. In October 2011 Vaporiety was named one of 50 Most Innovative Startups in the World by the Kaufmann Foundation. He also founded Ubiquishield, Hemostable, and GaussWear, which were honored by the Kauffman Foundation in 2012, 2013, and 2014 respectively, making Pensak the only one to ever make the top 50 list more than once. He was the founder and inventor of technology for three successful information security companies. Raptor Systems provided the first commercial Internet firewalls for business and industry. The company’s rapid growth, commercial success and eventual acquisition by AXENT Technologies (now Symantec) led to technical and financial recognition. Subsequently, he founded Authentica (acquired by EMC in February 2006), a recognized leader in the enterprise digital rights management market space, and then Vi Laboratories, a leader in piracy prevention software. Pensak has acted as an adviser for the U.S. Department of Energy, the Clinton Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection, the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment, and the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

After retiring from DuPont, he joined the faculty at the Wharton School of Business. Pensak is currently on the faculties of George Washington University School of Law, Drexel University School of Biomedical Engineering, Science & Health Systems, Drexel University College of Medicine as a professor of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine, and the University of Delaware Business School. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Princeton in chemistry and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Harvard, both in chemistry. He is also a Post Doctoral Fellow at Harvard University.  Pensak authored the critically acclaimed book, Innovation for Underdogs. He illustrates in Innovation for Underdogs real-world examples that illuminate how to transform an idea into a reality in the marketplace. His current research is on information gluttony – how the availability of information via the Internet is overwhelming our ability to balance the breadth of sources, the depth of relevant material, and somehow understand what information we have already gathered so we can apply it to unrecognized opportunities.

“Gathering information is easy, converting it to useful knowledge is the next big challenge for mankind,” said Pensak.

For more information, contact Erin Ouzts, at 864-494-3695 or or visit To purchase tickets for the event, visit


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