Jonathan Fay is an Argentina-born, American software developer who writes software for Astronomy, imaging and visualization. He is the Principal Software Developer for WorldWide Telescope in the Microsoft Research Next Media Group. He was Lead Developer for Microsoft Image Composer and other imaging products at Microsoft. He has patents and patent applications in imaging, visualization and information security.
Fay's first entry in the commercial software market came in 1982 at the age of 16 with the introduction of Chart-EX, one of the first applications designed to make charts from business spread sheets on a personal computer. It was marketed by LNW Computers for the LNW-80 and which touted what was at the time high-resolution graphics: 480x192 in 8 colors. Fay also produced LNW's Demo software that included a lunar landing simulator which had views of a spinning Earth from space foreshadowing things to come. Fay joined Microsoft in 1993 working for Microsoft Consulting Services. While trying to help clients create solve memory problems deploying Windows 3.1 in corporate network environments he discovered that the common "Out of Memory" messages that many Windows users received even when there seemed to be plenty of free memory and few applications were running, where not actually a fundamental windows limitation, but a hiccup from Windows past: all applications needed 512 bytes of RAM in DOS memory for a Task Database Entry. This limitation seemed like it could potentially choke adoption of Microsoft Windows and Office in corporate network environment. Fay's solution was a program called stryper, later renamed memvalet, that would purposely fragment a portion of DOS low memory to allow the room for many applications to run.
In 2001 while the development manager for MSN HomeAdvisor, Fay, inspired by Researcher Tom Barclay's inquiry about how USGS DEM data could be used on Microsoft TerraServer-USA, create a zoom able 3D Earth viewer with adaptive subdivision using data from NASA Blue Marble, USGS and TerraServer. He soon wondered how useful such a platform would be to view the sky if flipped inside out. This helped lead to the eventual development of the VEE and WorldWide Telescope client application.
In February 2006 Fay joined the Microsoft Next Media Research group led by Curtis Wong. Wong had been helped Jim Gray create the Sky Server website and was interested in creating an educational tool for astronomy. The two collaborated with Gray, astronomer Alex Szalay and astronomer Alyssa A. Goodman to create the first version of the WorldWide Telescope application that was shown by Rick Rashid in his keynote at MSR TechFest in March 2007, shortly after Gray's disappearance.
Fay is an avid amateur astronomer who helped has made significant contributions to the development of DSLR astrophotography. He authored software to allow traditional astrophotography packaged to control DSLR cameras under the demands of low-light high dynamic range in astrophotography. His software has been used by noted astrophotographer such as Jack B. Newton showing that DSLR acquired image could rival or equal traditional cooled cameras.
Fay is a significant contributor to the ASCOM standard for control of astronomical equipment. During his work on the WorldWide Telescope ASCOM client he created the reference .NET prototype classes that led to the ASCOM Version 5 redesign.
Fay designed, built and operates Bear Creek Observatory in Woodinville, Washington. The observatory was designed as a proving ground for observatory automation as well as an astronomy education outreach resource.