Friday, January 31, 2014

The 'Butterfly Effect' and BDPA Co-Founder David Wimberly

When you do an Internet search on the acronym "BDPA" you often find the following statement:
"Black Data Processing Associates was founded by Earl A. Pace, Jr. and David Wimberly in May 1975."
Everyone in BDPA knows about Mr. Pace. He has been a speaker at all 32 national BDPA Technology Conferences ... he has been at over 100 quarterly national BDPA board meetings ... he has been a member of the BDPA Education and Technology Foundation (BETF) board of trustees since its inception in 1992.  You can't miss Mr. Pace ... after all, the brother is 6'5" tall and towers above any crowd that he's in.

I think it's fair to say that everyone in BDPA knows about Mr. Pace.

On the other hand, we know very little about David Wimberly.  Think about it.  Have you ever seen a photo of Mr. Wimberly?   All that we know about him is that he joined Earl Pace to create BDPA back in May 1975.

It turns out that Mr. Wimberly worked on the same floor as Earl Pace in the mid-1970s. The two men talked about the idea of an organization like BDPA.  Those discussions led to a decision to call together some other like-minded Black information technology professionals to talk about whether or not it would help to organize in some manner.   David and Earl shared the expense of renting a hotel room for the first organizational meeting.

Unfortunately, David Wimberly met an untimely death before the official bylaws were created. As it turns out only a handful of BDPA members ever met David Wimberly in person.

That being said, it is important to acknowledge the importance of David Wimberly in BDPA history.  I tend to think of our BDPA co-founder as the embodiment of 'The Butterfly Effect'. The phrase refers to the idea that a butterfly's wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere Earth's atmosphere that may ultimately alter the path of a tornado or delay, accelerate or even prevent the occurrence of a tornado in a certain location. The flapping wing represents a small change in the initial condition of the system, which causes a chain of events leading to large-scale alterations of events. Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the system might have been vastly different. While the butterfly does not "cause" the tornado in the sense of providing the energy for the tornado, it does "cause" it in the sense that the flap of its wings is an essential part of the initial conditions resulting in a tornado, and without that flap that particular tornado would not have existed.

In other words we may never have impacted impacted tens of thousands of people who have benefited from BDPA over the past 35 years without David Wimberly sharing in the expense of that hotel room back in 1975.

Rest in peace David Wimberly. Your legacy is secure with BDPA.

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