Peter Bajka, the control system pioneer who founded the company that became Compool, died July 17. He was 78 years old.
Born on April 30, 1934 in Hungary, Bajka left that nation in 1956 in the wake of an uprising against the Communist regime. He first landed in Canada, moving to the San Francisco Bay area in 1967.
Bajka was working for an electronics company in Redwood City, Calif. in the 1970s when he began, on his own time, to develop an electronic pool and spa control system for use on his pool. He started marketing the system in 1975 under the banner of Bajka Engineering Enterprises Co. In 1978, the company became Compool, which was acquired by Pac-Fab (now Pentair) in 1995.
“He was right in the middle of the Silicon Valley revolution,” said Tom Schoendienst, who worked with Bajka at Compool. “Peter was one of the first to bring the microprocessor into the home.”
Bajka held seven patents, six of which were for innovations in swimming pool technology. Some of his inventions are still being used in the industry today. The innovation of the three-way valve, along with Bajka’s valve actuator, allowed hydraulic interconnection between a pool and spa.
Kevin Murphy was a friend and employee of Bajka at Compool, and today works in Pentair’s controller division. “We still manufacture an actuator Peter designed,” Murphy said. “Peter sparked the vision of automation. Those lines have grown into what Pentair sells today.”
Brian Lee, who eventually was national sales manager for Compool but also worked in production and design for the company, said he often sat in on brainstorming sessions with Bajka and others.
“One idea he had was with a pool-spa combination, being able to program the system to heat the pool for part of the day with solar, then switch over to the spa and heat it to a higher temperature. You come home and the spa’s comfortable or close to it so you don’t have to use very much fossil fuel to bring it the rest of the way.”
Bajka is survived by his wife, Agnes, and children Andy, Erika and Mik.