Bruce D. Lightner's Home Page

Bruce Who?

Bruce I am a seventh generation Californian born in smoggy Los Angeles, California. My mother (who had asthma) wised up and moved us to Guam (on a freighter, the USS Edgar F. Luckenbach) when I was in the second grade. I returned to LA (North Hollywood) in 1963 to finish high school...because Typhon Karen blew away Guam's only high school. In 1966, as soon as I graduated from North Hollywood High School, I too wised up and moved from LA to San Diego to study something at Revelle College at UC San Diego. (You can't choose a major there before your third year.) In exchange for washing dishes, they eventually taught me chemistry. I met my wife Sherri there...we both worked in the cafeteria. I didn't know she was going get me to marry her at the time...but to her...and my...and her parent's...surprise, she eventually did. The Revelle College Provost finally made me graduate in 1972...but being clever, I enrolled in graduate school at UCSD and managed to stay even longer, learning to be a geo/cosmo-chemist. In the Chemistry Department at UCSD I learned a lot about moon rocks and meteorites...and computers and electronics.

Although I am technically a chemist, no one seems to want to pay me for that. Instead, they pay me for something I never studied in school, namely computers. That's actually best, because I never liked chemistry that much, except for the computers...and the part where we melted moon rocks with a big radio transmitter and analyzed the He, Ne, Ar, Kr and Xe isotopes which leaked out.

Metaflow Technologies logo Up until December 1998, when the semiconductor giant STMicroelectronics purchased all outstanding shares, I worked for a ~50-person company I co-founded in 1987, Metaflow Technologies, Inc. in La Jolla, California. They designed "bleeding edge" microprocessors. I helped.

Metaflow was the pioneer in the application of out-of-order, speculative instruction execution to both RISC and CISC (i.e., Intel 80x86) microprocessors. In fact we created most of the terms now used to describe this then novel, but now commonplace, microarchitecture. A paper I co-authored and published in 1991 ("The Metaflow Architecture", IEEE Micro, vol. 11, No. 3, June 1991) describing our inventions is called out as "prior art" in 295 granted U.S. patents (as of May 2003). Metaflow's (and my) first patent (US5487156), filed in 1990 was used by Intel as part of it's then famous August 1997 patent infringement counter claim against DEC [ed. make that, make that HP!]. (A total of 190 of Intel's U.S. microprocessor patents reference our prior work, as of May 2003...growing at a rate of about one new reference per month.)

Networkcar logo In 2000, after a brief "retirement" (which didn't "take"), I helped co-found another company, Networkcar, Inc., a "telematics" company focused on the consumer automobile market. As luck would have it, Networkcar was located within a block of Metaflow, so I don't have to find new places to eat at lunchtime! About three years, and a half-dozen patents later, we sold the company to the "billion-dollar information services company" Reynolds & Reynolds, at the end of 2002.

Networkfleet logo A few years (and four patents) later, Hughes Telematics bought Networkcar from Reynolds & Reynolds, at the end of 2006. Eventually Hughes renamed the company Networkfleet. Working with Networkfleet I developed multiple generations of fleet tracking telematics devices for both consumer vehicles and medium- and heavy-duty trucks (i.e., OBD-II, J1708 and J1939). That resulted in more telematics patents with my name as inventor.

Verizon Telematics logo In 2012 Hughes Telematics was purchased by Verizon for $612 million and became part of Verizon Telematics. The premium share price has been attributed to Networkfleet's patent portfolio. Working via Lightner Engineering I continued to support Verizon Telematics with updated and all-new telematics designs, both hardware and embedded firmware, into 2015.

I continue to work for Lightner Engineering in La Jolla, CA, creating, refreshing and maintaining OBD-based telematics devices (and patents) for a number of clients. To date, the cumulative installed base of telematics devices which I have created is counted in millions.

Me and the Media

Random Stuff

  • One of my character flaws involves the coveting of old VWs (I own lot's of parts). I also like to go camping in the desert. Put the two together and you can call it a hobby...and hobbies need a Web page! Y.B.D.B.

  • Back by popular demand the Manx Dunebuggy Club 2000 Archive is back online. This is a snaphot-in-time of the Manx Dune Buggy Club's Web site, as of September 2000, at which time most of the content went "dark" because the material was turned over to "professional" Web Weenies, Now it is back! You can find the WW's WWW site here.

  • Read my (hopefully) humorous "Customer-from-Hell" short story about my dealings with Bank of America "automated tellers".

  • My morning commute from home to work was about 3 miles. See what happened one of the rare days I decided to take the freeway instead of the surface streets. (I had my digital camera along for the ride.) I now stay off of the freeway...or should I say "runway"?

  • I hacked someone's animated GIF showing a frustrated programmer. It's now my proposed international symbol for a Microsoft User.

Computer-Related Projects

  • PicoWebTM - A couple of friends and I have made a tiny stand-alone Web server called PicoWebTM. The photo of the PicoWeb printed circuit board shows that it is smaller than a business card. We believe that in terms of stand-alone, full-function Web servers, at one time it was both the World's Smallest Web Server, as well as the World's Cheapest Web Server. We have an electronic print article about the PicoWeb server project in the Circuit Cellar Online area of the EETimes Web site.

  • A Tiny (under 1024 bytes) AVR Bootstap - Larry Barello's version of Jason Kyle's avr-gcc-based boot-loader, reworked to fit in only 512 AVR instruction-words, is now available on this Web site under "ARCbootloader" at

  • Programming RAM-less AVR Microcontrollers with GCC - In the spirit of making the seemingly impossible possible, I've figured out how to use GNU "avr-gcc" to program really cheap (i.e., <$1) Atmel ATtiny AVR microcontrollers which do not have any internal RAM. This "mis-use" of GCC is completely unsupported by the "avr-gcc" community. You too can find out how I do it by clicking here. This technique has been used as the basis of many of my embedded projects, including one resulting in a article in Circuit Cellar Magazine (July 2006).

  • Actiontec Dual PC Modem Development Daughterboard - This home-built printed circuit board (PCB) provides the Actiontec Dual PC Modem with an uClinux console (115,200 baud, RS-232 levels), plus a USB port for bootstrap recovery. This Web page provides complete details, including complete schematics, PCB layout (for PCB Express), photos, a DigiKey parts order form.


  • Digital Camera Software - I bought a 25 MHz Compaq Concerto "pen-based" laptop for $200 from a friend. It appealed to me because it was cheap, needs no keyboard, and the screen can be read in full sunlight (it's a monochrome LCD). It's a perfect thing for off-roading. However, it's processor is too slow to download my Epson PhotoPC digital camera using Epson's Windows 95 TWAIN driver. So I consulted the Web and found Muscovite Eugene Crosser's digital camera software site. He has Unix-based software to control and download Epson PhotoPC digital cameras. So I converted his software to run under Windows 95/NT. The official Windows PhotoPC software release (sources and executables) can be found at The "non-GUI" camera downloading software works perfectly with my new (old) laptop, plus it can download the camera on other PC's in a fraction of the time the official TWAIN driver takes! I've also created an MS-DOS version of the PhotoPC software after discovering that the only reasonable MS-DOS version out there was shareware...with no sources.

    I've created a HTML document describing the PhotoPC program. So far many thousands of people have downloaded the Windows/MS-DOS version of the software, which is compatible with a larger number of digital camera models from several camera makers.

  • Cheap HTTP Daemon - My good friend Steve Freyder put together all the pieces for a Perl-based "Cheap" HTTP daemon for Windows 95/NT which you too can have! It consists of a HTTPD written in Perl (less than 160 lines at the present time) and an INET daemon written in Microsoft Visual C++. Also included in the distribution is a version of Perl for Windows 95/98/Me/XP/NT/2000. With this free software one can host a Web site on a Windows PC, such as the one I used to use with my Roadrunner cable modem "firewall" Windows 95 PC. (I've sinced switched to Apache under Redhat Linux.) If you don't like what the HTTP daemon does, you can fix's a small matter of (Perl) programming!


  • My Neighborhood from "Space" - I ordered a aerial photo dataset of La Jolla, California from the USGS and created some software in order view the data...the USGS gives one nothing! The resolution of the photo is about one meter per pixel. It's called an "digital orthophoto quarter quad" by the USGS, which means it has been warped back into true map coordinates. My early attempt of a "clickable aerial photo" of La Jolla, California is now ready for action.

  • San Diego from "Space" - I put together a "clickable aerial photo map" of San Diego County, California. The photo map is a mosaic of USGS aerial photos "snarfed" by using some Perl scripts to submit the proper HTML forms to the USGS database...this ain't easy! (Now you can get the same thing from Microsoft at They cover most of the continental U.S. with the USGS database...but I was first!)

    Sony CD

  • WebCD - I put my Sony 200-disc music CD changer that I got for my birthday on the 'Net with a few Perl scripts and a one-transistor PC parallel-port Sony S-Link (a.k.a., Control-A1) interface. (See for relevant links.) My home-grown software gathers information from the CD-changer regarding what CD's are loaded, then queries the CDDB database using the Web to build a local database of CD artist, song titles, and (sometimes) even song lyrics. Adding a single IR LED to one of the parallel port bits gave me IR control of the changer, needed to enter text for real-time front-panel display of CD titles. A sample control Web page is there for you to play with, but you cannot control my CD player. However, I can from any of the many PC's in my house, and (via password) from anywhere on the Web. Recently, I replaced the PC parallel port connection to the Sony CD changer with one using a PicoWebTM.


Issued Patents

Patent No.Title
1 7,747,365 Internet-based system for monitoring vehicles
2 7,532,963 Internet-based vehicle-diagnostic system
3 7,532,962 Internet-based vehicle-diagnostic system
4 7,480,551 Internet-based vehicle-diagnostic system
5 7,477,968 Internet-based vehicle-diagnostic system
6 7,174,243 Wireless, internet-based system for transmitting and analyzing GPS data
7 6,988,033 Internet-based method for determining a vehicle's fuel efficiency
8 6,928,348 Internet-based emissions test for vehicles
9 6,879,894 Internet-based emissions test for vehicles
10 6,732,032 Wireless diagnostic system for characterizing a vehicle's exhaust emissions
11 6,732,031 Wireless diagnostic system for vehicles
12 6,636,790 Wireless diagnostic system and method for monitoring vehicles
13 6,611,740 Internet-based vehicle-diagnostic system
14 6,604,033 Wireless diagnostic system for characterizing a vehicle's exhaust emissions
15 6,594,579 Internet-based method for determining a vehicle's fuel efficiency
16 5,987,588 Processor architecture providing for speculative execution of instructions with multiple predictive branching and handling of trap conditions
17 5,832,293 Processor architecture providing speculative, out of order execution of instructions and trap handling
18 5,797,025 Processor architecture supporting speculative, out of order execution of instructions including multiple speculative branching
19 5,708,841 Processor architecture providing speculative, out of order execution of instructions
20 5,627,983 Processor architecture providing out-of-order execution
21 5,625,837 Processor architecture having out-of-order execution, speculative branching, and giving priority to instructions which affect a condition code
22 5,592,636 Processor architecture supporting multiple speculative branches and trap handling
23 5,561,776 Processor architecture supporting multiple speculative branching
24 5,487,156 Processor architecture having independently fetching issuing and updating operations of instructions which are sequentially assigned and stored in order fetched

Send mail to Bruce at If you want to send me "secret stuff", use my PGP public key.

My .plan file: Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible. — Albert Einstein

Favorite computer quote: A computer is like an Old Testament god, with a lot of rules and no mercy. — Joseph Campbell

Another favorite quote: To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason is like administering medicine to the dead. — Thomas Paine

And yet another favorite quote: Politics is when people choose their words and actions based on how they want others to react rather than based on what they really think. — Patrick Lencioni ("The Five Dysfunctions of a Team")

And Doug Magee's "Pricing Sheet Sayings" are here.

Last updated Sun Aug 21 07:57:04 PDT 2022


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