David Tarver was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. He received bachelor’s (1975) and master’s (1976) degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, then went to work for AT&T Bell Laboratories in Holmdel, New Jersey.
Tarver left Bell Labs in 1983 to start Telecom Analysis Systems (TAS) in his basement with colleagues Steve Moore and Charles Simmons. In 1995, he engineered the sale of TAS to Bowthorpe (now Spirent) plc for $30 million. From 1996-99, Tarver spearheaded development of a Spirent telecommunications test equipment business that had sales of over $250 million and a market value in excess of $2 billion.
He left Spirent as president of the telecom equipment business unit at the end of 1999 to pursue community service and family interests. In 2001, Tarver founded the Red Bank Education and Development Initiative (Red Bank, New Jersey). The community-based not-for-profit catalyzed dramatic improvements in academic performance and opportunities for Red Bank children.
He has also served on the National Advisory Committee for the University of Michigan (U-M) College of Engineering, the U-M Alumni Association board of directors, the Red Bank (NJ) Board of Education, the National Commission on NAEP 12th Grade Assessment and Reporting, and several other civic and not-for-profit organization boards.