Stephen R. Krause, software designer

Stephen R. Krause

Stephen R. Krause, a software designer and inventor, died Friday at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital from respiratory failure on his 76th birthday.

Mr. Krause was born in Baltimore and raised in Forest Park. He was a 1955 graduate of the Park School and attended the University of Maryland, College Park.

Since he was a child, Mr. Krause demonstrated a profound interest in electricity and electric devices. He designed an automatic inventory control system that he called Epic for his father's uniform business.

The 4-cubic-foot unit could take physical inventory electronically, and could break down the merchandise by any designation such as size, color and style, explained his wife of 36 years, the former Jo Lynn Freeman.

In the late 1950s, he designed and built the Comp-U-Bar, a computerized bartender that could mix an alcoholic beverage — one of 1,000 programmed into the machine — in four seconds.

It had a magnetic tape, explained Mrs. Krause, on which the various recipes had been recorded. "It could also imprint bar checks in duplicate, keep daily totals and identify employees," she said.

Mr. Krause and his mechanical bartender made an appearance on the hit TV show, "What's My Line?" where panelist Dorothy Kilgallen told him that "she'd rather purchase half a baby grand piano than his automatic bartender," said Mrs. Krause.

In the 1950s and 1960s, he owned and operated K&M Electronics, a company he founded. In the 1970s, he established Custom Application Software, designing software programs for various businesses.

"They were as diverse as a weight reduction franchise, an aerial tramway, a book publishing firm, an auction house and a doughnut shop," his wife said.

He was a lifelong rail buff and enjoyed riding trains and steam-powered excursions. When he was a child and later a teenager, he spent Sundays at Penn Station in the now-demolished Union Tower, watching the tower operator set switches and signals.

Mr. Krause was a folk music fan and read widely about American and English history and also science fiction. He liked gardening.

The longtime Homeland resident served on the neighborhood association's board for eight years and had been treasurer. He also computerized its dues collection and information-disseminating systems.

He had been an active member of the Civitans of Baltimore.

Mr. Krause's family will receive family and friends at a private reception to be held Sunday.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Krause is survived by a daughter, Mindy Athas of Arbutus; a sister, Ellen Baron of Crofton; and three grandchildren.