John Pate, Father of the Digital Control Panel, Dies at Age 61


The digital communicators and receivers that alarm industry
professionals take for granted were once a dream until the
engineering mind of John Pate made them a reality. After a
long illness, Pate, one of the co-founders of pioneering
manufacturer Radionics, has passed away. The creator of the
first microprocessor-based control panel was 61.

Pate died at his Whitefish, Mont., home on Feb. 18, but his
legacy will be found for a long time to come in much of the
equipment that dealers and integrators sell and install.
Besides the digital communicator and receiver, Pate also
created the earliest testers that eased the installation of
alarm systems and engineered other innovations that made
electronic security more affordable and feasible for most
end users.

But Pate’s friends are quick to say that he rarely took the
limelight, preferring to innovate the industry in the

“I don’t think this industry even knows what John
contributed to it. He made some of the most sophisticated
panels in the industry in the 1980s,” former Radionics
President Larry Tracy, now CEO of Aleph Corp., told
SSI. “He is certainly one of the pioneers of our

The Pate invention that had the most effect on the industry
came about after he created the first alarm control panel
that used a microprocessor in the mid-1970s.

A former member of the U.S. Air Force, Pate later taught
electronics at Monterey Peninsula College (MPC) in
California. It was there that Pate met Ron Gottsegen and
the two started the company that would become Radionics in
the early 1970s with the idea to create a controller that
would make plastic moldings using the then-new technology
of microprocessors.

Watching installers put in an alarm system in his company’s
small Monterey office, Pate came up with a testing device
to make installing alarm systems easier. From this first
product, Radionics grew into one of the industry’s leading
manufacturers with Pate-led advancements in user keypads,
central monitoring receivers, fire alarm communications and
programming tools. Radionics later formed the heart of what
is today Bosch Security Systems.

Pate is survived by his wife Helga and stepchildren
Nickolas and Stephanie. Charitable contributions can be
made in Pate’s name to the Monterey Peninsula College
Foundation General Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 203,
Monterey, CA 93942, or contact the fund’s executive
director, Marilynn Dunn Gustafson, at
TARGET=’_blank’>[email protected].

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