Slalom Build’s Ian Cook hikes with his family in the woods behind their home in Issaquah, east of Seattle. Cook and his wife Amanda with their daughters, from left to right: Hailey, Shiloh and Maya. (Photo courtesy of Ian Cook)
Slalom Build‘s Ian Cook grew up in a house that his family built in Kenai, Alaska, population 7,800. There was no indoor plumbing until he reached fourth grade and no electric heat for many years. There was electricity and a bus came not too far from the homestead to take him to school.
Ian Cook and two of his daughters at Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah. (Photo courtesy of Ian Cook)
“I spent my formative years hauling wood in wagons and pumping water,” Cook said. “That certainly had a motivating factor for me in progressing my career.”
Another motivator was his dad’s unlikely passion for computers and coding, living in the wilds of Alaska in the early 1980s.
While the family was less than middle class income-wise, “one of the investments we always made was having computers in the house,” Cook said.
His dad had a business fabricating and building boats for the commercial fishing industry, while his mom was an accomplished seamstress. They built things and saw the utility of technology.
The family’s first computer was Commodore 64, then an Apple IIe. Cook loved playing video games on the machines, tooling away on Lode Runner’s puzzles on his Commodore and role playing in Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar on his Apple. He turned to coding by necessity: In his family’s cluttered house, the game discs were prone to damage by coffee spills and other mishaps, forcing Cook to engineer his way back into functioning software.
In high school, he used computers to draft designs for electrical panels that his aunts and uncles built …read more