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.