Nick Porcaro: Software Engineer/Musician – 212 982 6399


Nicholas J. Porcaro (Nick), a founder of Staccato Systems, was born in New York City during a blizzard, and yes his father had to walk 10 miles in the snow to get to the hospital. He received his Bachelor's Degree in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M university in 1984.

After that, he spent 7 years working for Tegas/Calma and Aida/Teradyne, startup companies in the electronic design automation industry, where he participated in the development of software for schematic editors, logic simulators, and design language translators.

Then he spent 2 years at a Stanford-incubated geophysical software startup, working on signal processing software related to seismic data analysis. Also during this time, he played keyboards in various rock and jazz groups.

In 1990, he became a visiting scholar at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford University where he studied digital signal processing as applied to physical modeling of musical instruments. During this time, he started experimenting with object oriented programming on the NeXT computer, which soon lead to an early prototype of what would later become SynthBuilder.

From 1993 to 1996, he worked as a consultant on the Sondius project, developing SynthBuilder into a rapid prototyping tool which was used by CCRMA/Sondius researchers to develop physical models and by composers in performances at CCRMA concerts.

From 1996 to 2000 Nick was a founder of Staccato Systems, which became a subsidiary of ADI) where he continued to develop SynthBuilder and use it as an internal tool for developing sound effects algorithms for games. In June 1997 SynthBuilder won the grand prize "Golden Max" award at the second annual International Bourges Music Software Competition.

From 2000 to 2009 Nick has worked as an independent software consultant and jazz musician. He studied piano with Dick Hindman, and had a regular gig playing at Caffe Proust in San Francisco. He served on the board of directors of the Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Council and worked on a prototype for an extensible online dictionary called the Open Dictionary.

In 2002 Nick started spending time in New York City to concentrate more on piano. He studied jazz piano with Eric Lewis, Connie Crothers and also Latin jazz at Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts with Pablo Mayor.

Also in 2005 he started playing a regular jazz gig at the High Road Cafe in New York City with percussionist and composer Lukas Ligeti. Nick was also a visiting composer at the Computer Music Center at Columbia University by invitation of Brad Garton at this time.

Also starting in 2005 Nick began a painting/free improvisation collaboration with New York artist Ellen Levy, where abstract movies were created using After Effects and Max/MSP. This led to the development of a live 3D graphics/sound system using Pure Data and Blender called "Blendnik". As a result of this work he started the New York City Blender User's group which organized conference at NYU Polytechnic University, and remains active.

Software Engineering Work Experience

2000-2010 Independent Software Engineer/Musician, San Francisco, CA/New York, NY

1996-2000 Distinguished Engineer/Founder Staccato Systems, Mountain View, CA

Staccato Systems, which was acquired by Analog Devices was a spin-off from the Sondius Project. The primary product is an audio synthesis engine called SynthCore. SynthBuilder is the primary internal tool used to create content for SynthCore, which is primarily oriented towards game sound effects. Nick was one of 7 founders of Staccato Systems.

1993-1996 Software Engineering Consultant, Sondius Project, Stanford University

The Sondius Project started at Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), and was sponsored by the Stanford University Office Of Technology Licensing. The Sondius project was primarily focused on the development of physical modeling based synthesis algorithms and a prototyping tool called SynthBuilder, which was primarily developed by Nick. Many live demonstrations were given at places such as UC Berkeley, the CCRMA Affiliates meetings, Xerox Parc, and the International Computer Music Conferences in 1994-1996 were given. In addition, many patents were associated with the Sondius Project.

1991-1993 Consultant/Software Engineer/Release Manager, PetroVision, Los Altos, CA

PetroVision produced geophysical interpretation software and was funded by the Gas Research institute. Pierre Samec, a Stanford Geophysicist was the founder of this company.

1986-1991 Software Engineer/System Administrator, Teradyne EDA/AIDA, Santa Clara, CA

Teradyne produced electronic design automation/test software. Teradyne acquired AIDA and Case Technology in 1988, resulting in Teradyne EDA.

1984-1986 Software Engineer, Calma Company, Austin, Texas

Calma produced electronic design automation software based on the Tegas simulator

1983 Intern, ETA Systems, Minneapolis, Minnesota

ETA Systems was a spin-off of the Control Data Advanced Design Lab

Computer Languages/Systems

Proficient C, Objective-C, C++, Python, PHP, Perl graphics/user interface programmer, expert in NeXTSTEP/YellowBox API (the precursor of Apple Xcode). A fair amount of work in Microsoft Visual C++, some DSP56000 and C signal processing work, as well as some Matlab. Proficient in the UNIX shell environment. Have used NeXT, Sun, Windows, Macintosh, and VAX/VMS systems.


1990 to 1996: Visiting scholar at the Stanford Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA)

1979 to 1984: Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering Texas A&M University