After serving as a communications officer in the Merchant Marines in WWII, Dick Swan majored in communications while studying Electrical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin. After leaving school, he went to work for WGN-TV in Chicago for ten years, where he filmed the White Sox and Cubs games in the early days of television. He worked for several radio stations and travelled to southern California to start his own radio station. He then joined Sarkes Tarzian where he worked as a sales engineer. In 1958, he co-founded General Communications, Inc. While there, he co-invented the vertical integral switching system, which became and remains, the predominant method of switching TV signals in the television broadcasting industry.
When the company was sold in 1961 he returned to work for Sarkes Tarzian and then moved on to become an industry consultant, setting up TV broadcast equipment manufacturers with switching equipment.
Dick Swan and his family moved to Huntsville, Alabama in 1970 to go into partnership with a colleague at American Data Corporation. Though the association was short-lived, it began a long and fulfilling life in Huntsville. In 1973, with his life savings, he started Communications Technology, Inc., with partner and friend, Frank Zimmerman. They manufactured switching equipment for the television industry.
After successfully building the company, they sold it to 3M in 1977.
In those days 3M had a video manufacturing division that developed and sold broadcast-quality videotape recorders, character generators and routing switchers, among several video-related products. The company also made recording tape, including all the sizes used for professional video recording. At one point in the 1980s, the company’s video hardware manufacturing business winnowed down to a successful line of routing switchers, which combined good bandwidth, modest size and reasonable cost. In 1990, a Spanish company called PESA Electronica, which had a very broad line of products, acquired the 3M video manufacturing division, renaming the 3M group to PESA and establishing two companies in the U.S. The name PESA is actually an acronym that combines someone’s name (P.E.) with (S.A.) the European equivalent of “corporation”.
In 2005 the company was sold to a private equity group out of Canada and went through re-branding and a name change to QuStream before returning to the original PESA name and brand which remains today.