of Ichiro Tonai
was born to Gengoro and Toyone Tonai on September 10, 1924, in San Pedro
California. He passed away on May 29, 2001 in West Hills, California.
had an older sister, Mary, a younger sister Rumi, and two younger brothers,
Minoru and Yutaka.
father was a fisherman until 1926 when he opened a produce stand with partner
Kenichi Shintani in Wilmington. They became successful and opened
produce concessions in several grocery stores in the Wilmington, San Pedro and
the Long Beach area. Ichiro recalled that his mother and father were
always working and were particularly busy during the peach and strawberry
1934, his family visited relatives in Japan. Ichiro and Mary remained with
his Aunt Sakae and Uncle Shinji Ohtsubo and his maternal grandmother in
excelled in art, math & sports and rose to the top of his class. Upon
graduation, he went to Tokyo Furitsu cho I'chu-go, a prestigious No.1 Middle
School. Under the tutelage of his Uncle, he also became a high-ranking
Ichiro and Mary were in Japan, World War II started, severing communications with
their family back home. It was only through the newspaper that Ichiro had
learned that his father was on the list of suspected Isseis rounded up and
sent to Missoula, Montana. The rest of his family was sent to a
concentration camp in Amache, Colorado where they received two letters from Japan
stating that all were in good health and that Ichiro had matriculated to
Yokohama Technical College, majoring in Engineering. However, in
the last year of the war, fire bombings came as close as a block from their home
and an incendiary bomb fell in a ditch nearby but did not explode.
was the year Ichiro returned to Los Angeles. In order to pursue his career
in engineering, he first enrolled at John Francis Polytechnic High School
to become more proficient in English. He then was able to attend Los
Angeles City College and finally transferred to UCLA. There he was elected
into the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society and graduated in 1953.
spent a year in postgraduate work and enjoyed a stint at Robinson's to develop
one of the first department store programs for centralizing inventory and sales.
He then joined Telecomputing Corporation in Van Nuys as an Engineer.
Subsequently, he was hired by Computer Controls Corporation in West Los
Angeles. As a systems engineer, Ichiro enthusiastically devoted endless
hours at CCC. He believed his efforts would develop a machine that would
revolutionize the world. He was among the pioneers, in the private sector,
to create the first computers. This company later became a part of the Honeywell
Corporation. While presenting this new innovation at a conference at the
Sheraton Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, he was befriended by the hotel manager,
Guy Taylor. Guy would eventually introduce Ichiro to Grace Ito of
Stockton, his sister-in-law. They married on April 19, 1958.
and Grace had four children, Richard, Rosalyn, Audrey and Dana.
1968, Ichiro was selected to go to Japan, with his family, to become a manager
of Engineering Liaison at their joint venture, Yamatake/Honeywell,
instituting product liaison procedures. After 3-1/2 years, the division
moved to Framingham, Massachusetts and in 1972 he was given an opportunity to
return to Los Angeles as a Senior Scientist at Hughes Aircraft Corporation.
At Hughes he helped develop the guidance system for the missiles on
Trident nuclear submarines and the AAMRAM until his retirement in 1986.
a successful career as a systems engineer, he shifted his attention to the use
of the personal home computer. His interests ranged from researching his
family history, translating technical documents and oral histories for others,
and working on several dental patents. He also taught himself computer
programming and enjoyed writing sophisticated algorithms for use in his sonís
scientific field and also game programs for his grandson.
Ichiro felt fortunate to be able to see his children graduate from college and go on to successful and productive lives of their own. It was especially joyful for him to have been able to welcome three grandchildren: Kiyoshi, Jessica, and Rhiannon.
(biographical information on Grace Tonai is in progress)