August 06, 1979 12:00 PM

Charity Engel Cheiky is president of a computer company in Aurora, Ohio that expects to gross $20 million this year, and she’s only 26. “It’s a little absurd when you think of it,” she admits candidly. “But when I look at the options I can’t complain.” A graduate of Hiram College near Cleveland, Charity, her husband Mike, 27, a science whiz whom she married after her sophomore year, and Dr. Dale Dreisbach, a former professor of theirs, started Ohio Scientific in 1975. But it really began in 1972, when undergrads Charity and Mike found an old IBM 1620 at a government surplus sale. They hauled the computer to the Hiram physics building, where Mike had it working in 48 hours. Ohio Scientific’s TO calls for Mike to design the equipment, Dreisbach to advise and Charity to manage the business. At first it was located above a pizza parlor. “When the jukebox played, the electronic parts flew off the shelves,” laughs Charity. Their first product, a calculator, flopped, but a year later, when microprocessor chips became mass-produced, the company boomed. Ohio Scientific now has more than 200 employees and produces 350 items, ranging from small computers to educational games (like Etch-A-Sketch), and is planning to expand. “You’re only 26 once,” says Charity. “I figure as long as I have the energy, I should keep going full steam.”

Bernard James Flynn, 28, has the answer for disco dancers who want to be Hot Stuff without being 2-Hot. It’s the Flynn fan. He buys cheap paper fans from the Orient, handpaints them in bright pastels, sometimes sprinkles them with gold and silver glitter, and then lacquers them several times. Each fan takes two hours to produce and sells for $25. Flynn tends to paint his fans in series—say, Kabuki-style followed by a green phase (eight different shades in one fan). Last year he introduced an 18th-century Venetian note by cutting eyes in the fans to make masks (retail price: $35). Flynn’s customers include Cher, Diana Ross, actress Denise Nicholas and ad executive Mary Wells Lawrence—not to mention Rod Stewart. Flynn got hooked on art and design while in high school in Pittsburgh (where his father was an Alcoa executive), went on to get a BFA at Parsons School of Design and graduated into textiles (a floral chiffon pattern won him a Tommy award in 1975). A free-lance job doing sketches for one of Henri Bendel’s famed showcase windows in Manhattan led to his first disco fan commission. By now he’s sold more than 1,000 of them at one Bendel boutique alone. Flynn is trying to parlay his designs into accessories, fabrics and murals. “I want it all,” he says, “and I know I’m capable of it.”

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