Black Tech Pioneer Edward Chow, Who Overcame Racism To Build One of the Largest Data Computing Firms in L.A. Dies at 83

Black Tech Pioneer Edward Chow, Who Overcame Racism To Build One of the Largest Data Computing Firms in L.A. Dies at 83

Edward Chow, an Army veteran and co-owner of a Black-owned tech company started in Los Angeles during the 1960s, died at 83.

The Kansas City Star reports Chow passed away last month of lung cancer and is survived by his wife, Charlene Chow, two children, five grandsons, one great-grandson, five brothers, and a host of other relatives and friends.

Chow and his eight brothers were raised by their Black mother and Chinese father and faced overt racism growing up in Greenville, Mississippi, during the 1930s.

“I think the main thing we all had to deal with growing up was the discrimination. We grew up in the Black community, but we didn’t look Black,” Chow’s older brother Joseph told the Star.

Chow’s family moved from the South to Kansas City, Kansas, and Chow eventually joined the US Army,  serving as a paratrooper. In the military, Chow developed a love for computers, serving as a machine accountant supervisor, and was awarded an Army Commendation Medal for his service.

After returning to Kansas City, Chow and his younger brother, Charles, moved to California to start their computer business but found it hard to get a foothold in the tech industry.

“It was very few Black men in the field at the time. That’s one of the reasons we left Kansas City and moved to California. A Black man just couldn’t move into the private industry. The best job a Black man could get was working for the government,” said Charles.

The brothers spent several years working at a data company before they took it over, turning it into one of the largest data computing firms in Los Angeles and one of the few Black-owned tech companies at the time.

According to Charles, the brother’s last name often confused many, especially in meetings, as many clients assumed they were Chinese, only to see two Black men when they met. However, that didn’t stop the brothers, who ran the Data Graphics Computer Service Co., until they retired in 2002. Family members kept the tech business running until they sold it in 2015.

After retiring, Chow continued his love for bowling, which he fell in love with as a youth working in a bowling alley and bowling for free after hours.