Richard Tien-Ren Cheng was born in June 1934. Since the age of three, he had been suffering from the war between China and Japan and the Chinese civil war between the Nationalists and the Communists. He moved frequently to escape the war and suffered immensely from losing his close relatives. At the age of fifteen, he escaped the mainland China to Taiwan where he grew up and completed his undergraduate education. He was married in Taiwan. When he decided to go to the States for his master’s degree, he left his wife, a son, and another son.
When he arrived at the school, he had thirty dollars to his name. He struggled for ten years in between studying and working. When he finally finished his doctoral degree, he became an educator in the effort to develop computer science programs for various institutions of higher education. He was promoted from assistant professor to associate professor to full professorship in six years and to eminent professorship in another three years.
In 1985, he decided to give up his position as an eminent professor and chairman of computer science at Old Dominion University to establish a small company. Through less than five years of struggle, he achieved the goal of making it a multimillion-dollar company. In 1991, he received the largest contract the IRS awarded to a small company, which was for $240 million over six years.
He has been active in the Organization of Chinese Americans, the Committee of 100, and the Chinese-American Foundation for Americans. He also has done a lot of philanthropic work that benefit to several universities.