The Origin Story
In the beginning . . .
The idea of the Solar Cat entered Jim Augustyn's mind in the early 1970's. Jim was a young mechanical engineer working in a struggling solar R&D start-up who often admired his sweet cat Parsley basking on a sunny windowsill. One day, it dawned on him what Parsley was really doing. That clever little kitty was really catching and using solar energy!
Jim's cats Parsley and Mouse (the elder) continued to impress him with their utter mastery of all aspects of solar energy capture and use. Jim studiously recorded his observations of cats using solar energy for several years before attempting to assemble them in sort of a coherent fashion.
The first Solar Cat Book was published in 1979 by Ten Speed Press, in Berkeley, California. It was a huge hit within the fledgling solar community selling more than 15,000 copies in advance of first printing. Nearly 25 years later, when human interest in solar energy was again on the rise, Jim fixed it up a bit and published The Return of the Solar Cat Book, a revised edition - this time in color.
Since that second release human interest and use of solar has grown dramatically, though not quite as far and fast as cats know it must, but at least they are moving in the right direction.
Jim Augustyn first learned about solar energy as a boy working on his suntan in the hot summer sun on the shores of Lake Michigan in the Indiana Sand Dunes. He later received a B.S. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology. He now lives in Berkeley California with his wife, Elizabeth, and a continuing series of successors to Parsley and Mouse.
Jim pursued his lifelong career as a consultant and researcher in solar energy research and development. The focus of his work is solar radiation measurement, but he has also designed and built solar thermal and electric systems, assisted in the energy design of buildings, and development of large scale solar power plants over a career stretching back to the days of the first U.S. energy crisis. His clients have included U.S. and foreign national laboratories, governments, electric utilities, solar power plant developers, industrial and commercial businesses at all scales, as well as the occasional regular person. Of course his most prestigious work is as humanity's lead Emissary to the International Solar Cat Society.