1972 - 2019 (47 years)
||David Zakutin |
||25 Jan 1972
||Breslau, Waterloo Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada
||Radar Ball |
|Eby ID Number
||8 Nov 2019
||19 May 2022 |
- Lifetimes: Radar Ball inventor was a creative spirit who never gave up
David Zakutin of Taiwan; born Jan. 25, 1972 in Breslau; died Nov. 8, 2019 of a heart attack
BRESLAU \emdash David Zakutin awoke every morning and thought "how can I make life better?"
It was 2009 when the young engineer shared that thought with the Record. From the time he was old enough to hold a screw driver, making things better had been his guiding principal. Every new idea had to have a greater purpose.
"I've had my nose to the grindstone since I was 16," he said. "In the last five years, I didn't get a lot of sleep."
The world paid attention when David created a speed-sensing baseball, an idea that caught on quickly but soon fizzled out. Not because the public lost interest, but rather because Rawlings Sporting Goods, the distributor of the Radar Ball, stopped marketing the ball.
David was bitterly disappointed, but as his sister Kathryn Schubert said: "He could became discouraged then he moved forward. He was very driven."
David, who was born Jan. 25, 1972, the youngest of two children, had the most profound things to say when he was a child, said his mother, Pat Zakutin. "He was very humorous and in photos he always had a big smile on his face," she said.
His parents describe David as thoughtful, a humanitarian and very close to his family. He video chatted with his parents, Pat and Nick, every Sunday from his home in Taiwan, usually for two-hour stretches.
Larry Smith, an adjunct associate professor at the University of Waterloo, said David was a standout among the 23,000 students he has taught over the years.
"He was the quintessential entrepreneur," said Larry, who teaches economics and runs the school's Problem Lab. "David had a variety of characteristics: he was very creative, he saw things differently and he had a maturity of vision of what he saw for his own life."
Larry spoke about how David's resourcefulness meant he would always find a way to solve a problem. "He would look at something and think, 'how can I make this better?'"
Pat said "he loved to make things, he loved to always be thinking." She recalled how Lego kept him busy for hours. As a boy he would reject going outside to play with his friends if he was immersed in a project. David exhibited this ability to focus and problem solve from an early age. He would get an idea, figure out how to turn it inot reality and work out every tiny detail, not stopping until he was satisfied.
From a childhood of building with Lego, David moved to mechanical inventions in high school, creating a notebook computer, the speed sensing baseball and a gasoline powered model car dubbed Spider. His inventions won awards so it seemed logical that David would choose to study mechanical engineering at UW.
In university, he found new levels of inspiration and capitalized on equipment that would help him further develop the baseball. He saw the ball as the product that would launch what would become his company, Zakutin Technologies.
Academic programs were important, but David's thirst to create was more powerful so he did skip a number of classes. "The business took 40 to 50 hours a week and school took another 60," he told the Record in 1996. "I had a plan and I knew I couldn't get sidetracked. I had to constantly remind myself of that."
His first venture while still in university was the development of computer software that was supposed to explore the human psyche He lost$2,000 but learned a valuable lesson. "I thought if I made it, people would beat a path to my door," he told the Record. "That was my first experience of learning that's not the case."
David's second project was more successful: a better control system for model airplanes.
Buoyed by that success he returned to the speed sensing baseball. He went to Taiwan to set up manufacturing after sealing a deal for the Radar Ball with Rawlings.
The ball hit the market in 1996 and won first place for entrepreneurial design at the Ontario Engineering Design Competition. It then shared first place in the same category at a subsequent national competition.
In 1998, the ball won was named one of the top sports products of the year at the Super Show in Atlanta, Ga. A year later, David was named Ontario's young entrepreneur of the year by the Business Development Bank of Canada. David was profiled in major newspapers, business and technology magazines and he appeared in the 2002 children's book "Canada Invents."
As marketing of the Radar Ball stopped, demand plummeted. David eventually moved to Taiwan where he had access to manufacturing for future inventions such as a makeup carrier with lights and the Jitter Bug, a contact lens cleaning device.
David, who never married, devoted his life to his ideas, often working throughout the night, sleeping during the day.
His father concluded "he was living his life his way."
On Nov. 9, 2019, just as he left the gym, David died of a heart attack.
Hill, V. (2019). Lifetimes: Radar Ball inventor was a creative spirit who never gave up. TheRecord.com. Retrieved 7 December 2019, from https://www.therecord.com/news-story/9750113-lifetimes-radar-ball-inventor-was-a-creative-spirit-who-never-gave-up/