Designing the future

Can Paul Trevithick help bring graphic design into the computer age?

That is the aim of a Boston-based company that Mr. Trevithick formed last year with a partner. They hope to market a new kind of computer graphics system.

But, as any businessman knows, ideas are cheap. What makes an entrepreneur is the ability to follow through.

''I'm just going into this with no experience,'' he says. Trevithick is taking time off from a two-year graduate program at MIT to devote all his energies to the company. ''It's a matter of faith. You go out and you try a few things and they work. You find you start to trust them.''

''I don't think about failure,'' he says. Even if the firm failed, ''you have an incomparable education. You don't hit the ground very hard. It's only money.''

And, like many student entrepreneurs creating a new product, money is not the main goal.

''The motive is to produce an extremely applicable and quality product,'' he says. ''What else gives you the responsibility - in the good sense of the word - the freedom . . . that requires such singleness of purpose, dedication, and is rewarding, and used by a whole bunch of people who really enjoy the product?''

Trevithick has had his failures in the past. Someone beat him to the record player that used light instead of a needle. And the pocket calendar was too expensive to produce.

But, he adds, emphasizing each word, ''for once I want to give it my everything.''

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