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Acclaimed technology innovator Bernard Daines dies at 69

Acclaimed technology pioneer and businessman Bernard Daines, posing for a photo in his commercial building in 2012, died Thursday. (File)
Acclaimed technology pioneer and businessman Bernard Daines, posing for a photo in his commercial building in 2012, died Thursday. (File)

Bernard Daines, acclaimed as a pioneer in Ethernet technology and a visionary business leader, died Thursday in Coeur d’Alene.

He would have been 70 on April 12, his brother Dan Daines said.

In recent years Daines’ health had deteriorated. Diabetes had required regular dialysis treatments. He died in Kootenai Health hospital in Coeur d’Alene.

A private graveside service will be held today at Evergreen Cemetery in Post Falls.

Daines played a major role in developing high-speed networking switches using the Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet protocols. Those technologies continue today as one of the key components of broadband network communications.

Among his career accomplishments were founding Packet Engines, a Gigabit Ethernet routing-switch manufacturer that was sold to Paris-based Alcatel for $325 million, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. He co-founded Grand Junction Networks, a Fast Ethernet switch manufacturer that was sold to Cisco Systems for $350 million.

In Spokane he founded World Wide Packets, which was acquired by networking company Ciena, and later Linux NetworX.

He was also a founder of TierPoint, a Liberty Lake data center operation later acquired by Cequel Data Centers.

Born in Canada, his family moved to Moses Lake in the 1950s. Because of Daines’ chronic asthma, his parents moved to the Spokane Valley. He graduated from Central Valley High School and attended Brigham Young University.

By the time he entered high school Daines had come to see computers as his life’s passion. He built a language-translation computer for a high school science fair.

In 1969 Daines graduated from BYU as that school’s first computer science program graduate.

Settling in California, Daines became a consultant and network engineer for a succession of tech firms.

After Daines moved to Spokane, a reporter contacted Silicon Valley legend Robert Metcalfe for a comment about Packet Engines. Metcalfe is famed for devising the first versions of Ethernet, the original and widely used networking method for computers.

His comment was: “I know little about his company, but I do know that Bernard Daines cannot be beat, engineering-wise …”

Because of his successful company sales, Daines was once dubbed one of this area’s wealthiest businessmen, a title he said was far off the mark. “They consider some of the stock I own to be extremely valuable,” he said at the time. “That’s not even close.”

In the early 2000s he was included in Newsweek magazine’s key 100 people to watch during the first decade of the 21st century.

In recent years Daines focused primarily on managing Liberty Lake Portal, a business center he owned.

He and his wife, Marsha, lived in Liberty Lake and raised six children.

Daines, the oldest of eight children, was always a private, quiet person, Dan Daines said.

“He had deep emotions, but he didn’t show them often,” his brother said.

Octavio Morales, who went to work for Daines at Packet Engines, later became a partner in forming the TierPoint center. He regarded Daines as a superb leader and visionary.

“He impacted not just our community, he impacted our industry profoundly. His technology will be around a long time,” Morales said.

Among his idiosyncrasies, Daines never wrote in cursive.

“They may have forced him in school to write in cursive,” his brother said. “But as an adult, I never once saw him write in anything except careful and precise print. He liked it.

“For him it was like computer printing. It was clean and direct,” Dan Daines added.