Enter Magazine, April 1984

CAPTION:  Weather watch: Tei Gordon’s computer info saves companies millions.

At 7:00 every Monday morning you’ll find 13-year Tei Gordon busy at work on an Osborne computer, collecting information that will influence decisions at major companies like General Mills and J.C. Penney.

Tei, who lives in Corvallis, Oregon, uses his father’s computer and modem to get climate data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Washington D.C.  Tei then has the computer translate this information into a readable form.  Finally, he prints out the data, photocopies it and mails the results to over 50 companies across the country.  This climate information helps the companies save money—in some cases, even millions of dollars—by helping them to regulate fuel consumption in their buildings.

“The beauty of his service, says William Haun, president for engineering at General Mills in Minneapolis, “is its convenience.  It’s tremendously useful in helping us control energy consumption in our buildings.  [His information] is saving us about $13 million each year.”

The idea for setting up a weather service came from a friend of Tei’s Dad.  “I really liked the idea,” recalls Tei, “so I consulted someone who could help me write a program for the Osborne at my Dad’s office.  The program was really complicated.  It had to sort through NOAA’s data, and record the important stuff, and it took quite a few hours to figure out.”

Tei started his service about a year and a half ago.  He charges each company $47 a year for the information.  For the most part, Tei does the work single-handedly: “My Dad helps me plan business strategies.  I’m not such a great typist, so sometimes I get help with that, too.  But the rest, I pretty much do by myself.”

Tei earned more than 2,000 dollars during the first year that he ran his weather service.  He expects to make twice as much this year.  “Making the money is one of the best parts,” he says.  “I mostly save it, but I do take some out for records and stuff.  Also, I’m planning to buy an Apple, because I’m really into games.  My friends and I have over 100 games between us.” 

Many of the business that Tei works for have no idea how old he is.  When a reporter called Mr. Haun at General Mills and told hi, he replied, “A 13-year-old kid?  Well, that’s remarkable.”

Reactions like that please Tei who says he really likes his job.  “It’s exciting,” he says.  “It makes me feel pretty great that these companies use my service.  It’s really a neat feeling.” 

 

 

Enter Magazine

April, 1984