Conrad Charles Jutson died at 81 in Fair Oaks, Calif. on Thursday, April 16, 2009 after a long, adventurous life, with his beloved wife Glenda at his side.
Born in Devon, U.K. on Dec. 29, 1927 to parents Charles and Chrissie, Conrad grew up during England’s battle against Germany amid the bombing of its cities. He joined the British Royal Navy at the age of 15 and graduated as an electrical artificer in the Fleet Air Arm Branch.
After a year at sea, he volunteered to transfer to the radio and radar branch and, following an 18-month course, qualified as a radio electrical artificer, responsible for repair and maintenance of naval radio and radar equipment on various bases, ships and airplanes. His last assignment in the Navy was at an experimental navy base where he first started work on transistor circuit design for test equipment.
With this extensive naval electronics training in hand, in December 1958 at the age of 30, Conrad immigrated with his wife and son to the U.S. and, after an interview on a bitterly cold January day in 1958, began his career in the consumer electronics business as a technician in General Electric’s Radio Receiver Department in Utica, N.Y. He was with GE for 11 years, rising to the position of manager of international planning for marketing RRD products.
In 1963, Conrad was awarded the coveted Cordiner Award by GE for his outstanding innovative contributions in RRD, including his work on two transistor radio models in particular that paved the way for later, more sophisticated models.
Conrad left GE in late 1969 to begin a challenging position with Toshiba in New York City as director of corporate planning, working in Japan and the U.S. on product, operational and distribution planning, before becoming vice president of sales and marketing. Toshiba was in its formative years in the U.S., and Conrad worked with Toshiba’s Japanese headquarters to develop and introduce several leadership product lines.
Conrad left Toshiba in 1976, moving to Dallas, Texas to join Texas Instruments, Inc., first as manager, new business planning, for consumer products and later as marketing manager for personal computers. During his time at TI, his assignments included TI’s newly entered home and personal computer venture as well as the first electronic photography camera and closed captioning for TV.
In the fall of 1979, he was recruited by Atari in Silicon Valley, Calif. to join their personal computer division as vice president of sales and marketing. He moved on to corporate vice president for planning, covering the three divisions of coin-op, consumer (video games) and computers, and then as vice president of sales in 1983.
Conrad was one of the first to see the potential of computers beyond the video game business, and predicted that computers would be as common as home stereo systems.
Warner sold Atari in 1984, and Conrad formed a consulting firm with another former Atari employee, doing business planning consulting, as well as operational sales, with marketing start-ups in Silicon Valley. This led to what became another full-time business venture in the Los Angeles area with a company called Sounds Fun, started by a former Disney engineer, who had invented a talking animated watch.
With licenses for Disney, Warner and Turner cartoon characters, Sounds Fun sold over a million watches and clocks over a three-year period.
Conrad decided at the age of 66 to “retire,” moving with his wife Glenda to Whidbey Island. Although he enjoyed immensely his Puget Sound sails, cooking gourmet meals for friends and family, and traveling both in the U.S. and abroad, full retirement was never his forte.
He continued to consult with both California and Washington business ventures until he and his wife moved back to California in 2006 to be closer to his three sons.
Conrad was a man of impeccable integrity, a teacher of the young, a consummate professional and highly respected by all who worked with him throughout his long career in the consumer electronics field.
Conrad is survived by his wife Glenda; former wife Ivy Hudson; sister Terry Talbot-Evans; three sons, Gregory and partner Yoli Gillon, Craig and wife Ginnie; and Mark and wife Judy; two step-children, John Zelazny and Lisa Manzi; two grandchildren,
11 step-grandchildren, and two step-great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held in his honor at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 2, at the Four Seasons Lodge, El Dorado Hills, Calif.