By the end of the 10-minute battle, Rohrich's one of the last men standing. He takes his helmet off to give his bald head a chance to breathe in the January night air. Park lights illuminate the steam coming from his sweat-doused dome. Rohrich's helmet is heavy and heavily padded — it's like a sauna in there.

"The battles are sort of like a cross between tug-of-war and a meat grinder," he says, before gulping down a cup of water.

Though it may seem a big leap to some to go from taking a whack in the pack in the simulated Dark Ages to conceptualizing futuristic gadgets in the Digital Age, for Rohrich, inventing new technology and being a baron in the Society for Creative Anachronism are linked.

"Role-playing games allow you to visualize an object or an environment and imagine its use, without it ever existing. Well, what do inventors do? People who invent things visualize an object and think about, 'Well, how would I use it and what does it need to have?'" he says. "But, of course, we discourage Dungeons & Dragons and role-playing, but we encourage overbuilt morons throwing inflatable leather around and give them millions of dollars and make them popular in school. It's ridiculous."

Another link for Rohrich between the SCA and technology is Bill Woodbury II, one of Rohrich's partners and co-inventors at Elliptical Mobile Solutions. Woodbury's a big blond guy with arms like tree trunks; Rohrich calls him "the pretty boy" of the pair. The two met in the SCA and have been close friends for more than 15 years now, but they initially didn't like each other.

"It was like, 'Oh, look, another alpha male. We'll have to split up the womenfolk,'" Rohrich says.

"He was a decent fighter and I liked that, but he was competition," Woodbury says of Rohrich. "We're similar size, so women who usually liked him liked me. But then we realized that together we could dominate an entire room, even if there were other men there that were normally competition."

In 2004, Woodbury approached Rohrich with an idea. He'd been working with two other inventors, Mike Chaput and Joe Robbins, and they needed someone to bounce some ideas off and do some additional work. Together, the group of inventors founded Elliptical Mobile Solutions (Robbins is president of the company). Rohrich found himself working about 60 hours a week for little to no pay, but because he had nothing more than a high school diploma and had left Northern Arizona University after only a year of studying computer science, he figured the company was his best option for building a career in technology.

Since its founding in 2005, Elliptical Mobile Solutions has created five products, all related to data management and computer productivity. Before inventing the S.P.E.A.R., the company made a power conditioner called the H.E.L.M. (Hardened Electrical Line Module), which provides AC power for computer equipment and will operate in temperatures up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit with no additional cooling required.

They also created the S.H.I.E.L.D. (Structurally Hardened I/0 Locking Device), a weatherproof connection panel for computers that provides locking doors for each connection and gives users a secure connection in even the worst thunderstorm. Elliptical Mobile Solutions' other products — the C-S.P.E.A.R. and the R.A.S.E.R. — are variations of enclosed, rackable data centers. The C-S.P.E.A.R. is a smaller version of the S.P.E.A.R., and the R.A.S.E.R. is a stationary electronic equipment rack.

The company's currently working on modular data centers that leave a "zero carbon footprint," developing racks and shelves that can be installed in metal shells to hold computer equipment and operate at about half the cost of a traditional data center (you can learn more details about these gadgets and machines at www.ellipticalmedia.com).

According to Dun and Bradstreet, a New Jersey-based company that provides credit information on businesses, Elliptical Mobile Solutions' estimated annual sales are $1.3 million. Rohrich says the company's total value is $20 million but admits his salary doesn't reflect that success yet. He says, "The game now is to stay afloat" until somebody purchases the product patents (he claims that one of the largest information technology companies in the world is currently negotiating with EMS to buy the S.P.E.A.R., but Rohrich's mum on naming them until the contracts are finalized and signed).

For now, Rohrich gets by on his meager independent inventor's salary and a bit of help from his friends and family. (He sheepishly admits he has girlfriends who help support him.) But being brilliant and broke isn't a new dilemma for him — he's been facing it since he was a kid.


When Simon Rohrich was 3, he caught a cold. His mother took him to a doctor in their home state of North Dakota. The doctor used a tuning fork to conduct a reflex test on him, and he asked the toddler if he knew what the tuning fork was.

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6 comments
buffalobills515
buffalobills515

Love the story. It is great to hear a fellow SCA guy doing great things in the world. I will need to put a post about this inventive warrior on my medieval blog

Dennis Ward
Dennis Ward

Simon used to work with/for me a few years ago at ValueOptions. He's a gentle giant and I'd definitely want him in my corner.Glad things are going good for you, Simon.

Simon Rohrich
Simon Rohrich

I hope you have been practicing. ;-)Thank you for the doubleedged compliment. You and you household are formidable. I do ride on my rep. I don't hurt anyone on purpose. Any injury I cause that results in financial loss I feel terrible about.

see you in two weeks,thank you in advance-Nerd of War-

BammBamm
BammBamm

Only the bravest men dare poke the bear. Let alone 2 of them. See you @ practice

Leo
Leo

Its about freaking time you guys did a story on the SCA here in Arizona and the fact that you did one about Simon shows some actual intelligence. Simon is a straight thug and the inventor of the phrase "militant geeks" Alot of the time though he rides to much on his reputation as a bone breaker. He hurts one guy a year and the rest of the year everybody in the game is like "OOOH here comes Simon and Bam BAm." But us Romans have no fear and Constantly have to show the rest of the community that he isnt that mean. Believe me though when I step on the field the first thing I do is look for Simon cause when he hits you and your not aware of it its like being struck by a runaway train. But if your ready for him he falls just like all the rest. Good luck selling your Spear Brother and remember Saterday Night at Highlands is the bucket party swing by your more then welcome LORD LEO Roman Thunder

 
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