Roy L. Clay, Sr.

Born: c. 1929, Kinloch, Missouri;

Occupation: Computer Scientist, Businessman;

Position: Founder;

Company: ROD-L Electronics, Inc.;

Industry: Technology;

Residence: United States;

Nationality: American;


Roy L. Clay, Sr., is the founder and former CEO of ROD-L Electronics, based in Menlo Park, California and a manufacturer of electrical safety testing equipment, which he founded in 1977. ROD-L set the industry standard in electrical product safety testing by producing the world's first Safety Certified (i.e. Underwriters Laboratories Listed) Dielectric Withstand (Hipot) and Ground Continuity Testers. The company has received the Consumer Product Safety Award for developing the safest product of its kind and its products are used by the leading manufacturers of electrical and electronics equipment worldwide.

Personal Attributes and Interests

  • Clay was married to Virginia Clay, with whom he had three sons.

Work Experience

In 1971, Mr. Clay joined Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the premiere venture capital firm at the time, as a consultant for finding prospective investments in computer technology start-ups. Three of those investments were Tandem Computers, Compaq, and Intel

Prior to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, he was at Hewlett-Packard and was a key figure in the development of HP's computer division. He led the team that engineered HP's entrance into the computer market with the development of the 2116A computer in 1966. He was the Director for the first HP Research and Development Computer Group, he also was responsible for the development of the software for the 2116A computer. He served as the interim General Manager of HP's computer division following the departure of Tom Perkins, who went on to co-found the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Prior to joining HP, Mr. Clay worked as a software engineer for Control Data Corporation, the third largest mainframe computer manufacturer at the time, where he developed software languages for Control Data computers.

In 1958 he started working as a computer programmer for what is now known as the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a leading physics research lab operated by U.C. Berkeley for the U.S. Department of Energy.

His first tech job was as a programmer of IBM and Burroughs computers in the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, which later became McDonnell Douglass.

Mr. Clay’s first job after graduation was as a school teacher. Back then, teaching school was about the best job that Black Americans could reasonably hope to find in the U.S.


  • Mr. Clay is a key figure in the development of Silicon Valley and was inducted into the Silicon Valley Engineering Council's Hall of Fame in 2003. As a Hall of Fame inductee, Mr. Clay joins such notables as Bill Hewlett and David Packard, founders of Hewlett-Packard Company; Robert Noyce, inventor of the 8080 microchip and founder of Intel Corporation; and John L. Hennessy, President of Stanford University.
  • In 1988, Roy Clay became the first African-American member of the Olympic Club, America's oldest athletic club. He eventually became president of the club for a time.
  • Mr. Clay became the first Black American to serve as Councilman in 1973 to 1979 and as Vice Mayor of the City of Palo Alto in 1976/77.
  • He taught himself to code.


  • In 1999, he founded the Virginia Clay / Unity Care Annual Golf Classic to honor his wife's memory and to promote success for young minorities.
  • Mr. Clay is a community leader in youth development and has worked tirelessly for over 35 years in Silicon Valley, in leadership positions and in numerous community organizations to promote the improvement in quality of life.


Mr. Clay received a Bachelor's in mathematics from the Saint Louis University (SLU), in 1951.

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