His interest in Astrology and the Astronomy, Physics and math which underlies it, began while he was at University studying Physics, Astronomy and Computers. Naturally, this led to his combining those skills and interests into what has become the iPhone and Mac App known as iPhemeris.
The History of iPhemeris
The idea for iPhemeris arose when Apple and Steve Jobs (a personal hero of mine) announced the App Store and the Developer Tool Kit in 2008. At the time I was Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for an Electronic Bond Exchange and immersed in the world of software and computer technologies (My entire working career has been as a co-founder or senior member of one software and technology company or another: Rogue Wave Software; ILX Systems; Beacon Capital Strategies; AskingPoint.com) and I had been following Apple as both an investor and Mac technology lover since 2004. My reaction to the iPhone when I first saw it was one of those “YES” moments when you see a piece of technology that instantly solves all your complaints and issues with something.
iPhone was such an obvious improvement to everything that was the mess that was cell phones in those days, that I was absolutely one of those idiots waiting on line for hours at the Apple store to get one. So, when Steve Jobs subsequently announced the Developer Kit, I knew had to get my hands on it and do something… but what?!
One morning shortly after the announcement I literally woke up with the name iPhemeris on the tip of my tongue along with the idea for the software. I thought wow, this technology is so powerful I could easily put on it all the Astrology information I currently carry a bunch of books around for.
I spent several months reminding myself of the physics, geometry, algebra and other math skills needed to build an App like iPhemeris (I studied physics, computer science and astronomy at Colgate University). I began by familiarizing myself with the works of Jean Meeus, Paul Heafner and the Jet Propulsion Labs (JPL) Ephemerides. Books like:
- Practical Astronomy With Your Calculator – Peter Duffett-Smith
- Astronomical Formulae for Calculators – Jean Meeus
- Astronomical Algorithms – Jean Meeus
- Fundamental Ephemeris Computations for use with JPL Data – Paul J. Heafner
- Elements of Solar Eclipses – Jean Meeus
- Mathematical Astronomy Morsels – Jean Meeus
It took a while to wade through, particularly because scientists are absolutely the worst programmers (being a professional software developer, I find they use all kinds of now discredited coding practices and hacks and generally create a software developers nightmare) and produce software that makes programmers like me run away in horror… It makes one wonder how we ever made it to the moon alive, yikes!
Regardless, I ended up writing all my own routines using algorithms from the above books and studying the principles and building a small, fast, C library to do all the hard-core ephemeris math required to work with the JPL Ephemeris files. The first iPhone was powerful, but one still had to be sensitive to memory consumption and speed of floating point calculations. So I spent time optimizing, figuring that good design would only help me later.
One thing led to another and after about 6 months of lots of evenings, weekends and late night work (iPhemeris is not my day job) I had what turned out to be the very first tool for Astrologers on iPhone… and in my humble opinion, still the best 🙂 And it has continued to grow and be improved and developed into what is now probably the most complete, powerful Astrology App available for iPhone and Mac.
You can read more about my iPhone Astrology exploits on the iPhemeris blog elsewhere on this site…. Happy Astrology / Horoscope charting!