Russell Noftsker was born February 1942 and went through his education to high school in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Steven Levy described Noftsker as "A compactly built blond with pursed features and blue eyes". Noftsker earned a degree in engineering from New Mexico State University and was hired in 1965 by Marvin Minsky as the administrator of the Project MAC AI Group, later to become the AI Lab, replacing Dan Edwards, who had recently left that post. He would later hire Richard Stallman as a programmer intern for the lab.
Lisp machines and SymbolicsEdit
He left the Lab in 1973 "under duress" (according to Levy), but would later return to the Lab. Richard Greenblatt's development of the early Lisp machine led to Noftsker and Greenblatt working together with the team of Lisp Machine developers to commercialize the technology. Differences over business strategy and direction split the group from Greenblatt in February 1979. A year later Noftsker and the rest of that group formed Symbolics Inc. with Robert Adams taking on the role of president and chairman. Greenblatt would eventually start Lisp Machines Inc.
Noftsker and the then CEO Brian Sear were forced out of Symbolics completely by the board in early 1988 after an internal battle over lowering prices. Noftsker had already been forced to resign as president for 2 months in April 1984 by the board and again in late 1986, retained as chairman & CEO the first time then as Chairman the second.
In 1995 at the invitation of Symbolics customer, Steve Gander of Princeton Capital, he joined a group which bought the assets of Symbolics out of bankruptcy.