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Lytron

By Jim Colombo (USA)

Chapter 12


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          Twelve

 

 

January 1973 Bill Borg bought out Milan's interest in T & B circuits.  Milan and

Bill continued to be good friends and soccer buddies.  Bill changed the name from

T & B Circuits to Multilayers Plus.  Milan used the money to modernize Lytron 1 and 3

allowing Joe to increase production.  Two gentlemen approached Milan with a device

that they were working on that would manage data and send it by phone.  They were

working with a gentleman in Washington, who was creating a language that gave

commands to perform tasks called software, that the device used.  Milan arranged a

meeting with the two gentlemen, Bill Borg, Ron Deluca, and himself.  Some of the

printed circuit boards in the application were four layers and Milan would need Bill to

help design and make the prototype boards. The devise consisted of double side

boards, four layer multilayer printed circuit boards, and wire harnesses.  The multilayer

boards were called central processing unit, input output board, memory board, power

supply board, and a wire harness that connected all of the printed circuit boards called a

buss line. 

A previous company call Movar in 1971 created a device that used an IBM

Selectric typewriter with a cartridge recorder that saved typed documents on an eight

track  magnetic tape player or transmitted saved data by phone communicating to other

companies with a similar devise like a teletype used by newspapers.  Companies like

American Airlines, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo were interested in communicating

information quickly.  Two Jewish men owned Movar and wanted to quickly become the

next silicon valley millionaires. They brought their product to market prior to correcting

all of the bugs.  Movar began with one field service engineer Jerry and quickly grew to

fifty.  The problem was over heating.  The device was packaged in a three piece

fiber glass unit with a small fan to blow out heat.  When diodes and transistor reached

110 degrees they would shut down.  The IBM Selectric generated a lot of heat and the

magnets used to actuate each character on the IBM typewriter stained the power supply

and would also overheat.  They quickly failed, but their theory and application lived on

and fed the curious in grad school, electronic publications, and two gentlemen.        

The two gentlemen called their devise a computer and named it Apple.  They had

little money, but the application was fascinating.  They spent time with Bill Borg

improving the design and the function of each board.  Milan and Bill accepted payment

in stock futures.  At first Ron did not agree, but latter invested in stock futures as well. 

Mr. Gates was finalizing his preproduction version software and needed a working

model of Apple's latest computer for testing.   At the end of 1975 they were ready for the

1976 electronic trade show in January at Las Vegas.

The two gentlemen and Mr. Gates brought three Apple computers to the show in

January 1976 and shared a booth demonstrating their applications.  Milan was

surprised at the interest the computer generated and could envision expanding Lytron to

accommodate Apple's needs.  Bill Borg made a good impression with the two

gentlemen and if they succeeded, so would he.  1976 would be a challenging year.

In the summer of 1976 Joe was introduced to Bill Taylor by Jack Dunning.  At

first Joe was not impressed with Bill's blood shot eyes.  Jack explained that Bill had

spent long hours perfecting his devise.  Bill had made an auto bar tender that made

perfect Martini's, Manhattans, and Old Fashions.  Printed circuit boards sent commands

to harnesses that controlled plastic hoses attached to bottles of alcohol that poured

precise amounts of beverage.  There was a lot of trial and error creating the perfect

drink and Bill monitored the quality control.  In fact Bill monitored his creation often and

would have to pause between design and partaking of beverage.   Bill Taylor with the

help of Bill Borg and Joe created the auto bar tender and Mr. Taylor sold thousands to

all of the major hotels.  Here's looking at you, Mr. Taylor. 

In July 1976 Jack Dunning met a gentleman at his health club who worked in his

Los Gatos garage working with a television and the images projected on the television

screen.  He had an idea to create a game where two player, each having a hand held

controlling devise, could maneuvered an electronic image called a blip on the television

and play a game like tennis.  The difficulty was coordinating the movement of the blip on

the television screen with the hand held controller.  The hand held controller had a

printed circuit board made with fanalic material made by Rogers in Canada that did not

displace heat well like fiber glass laminate.  In time Nolan designed trace width that

could displace maximum heat tolerated, increased  the laminate thickness needed to

displace the heat from soldering components to traces, and Pong was created.   
           
Latter that summer in 1976 Bomar and Texas Instrument were in Texas and

made calculators that fit in a shirt pocket.  Both performed the basic four functions, add,

subtract, multiply, and divide, so price and quality would distinguish the better

calculator.  TI was working on a scientific model that performed trig, algebra, and a

financial calculator that helped realtors and loan officers calculate loan monthly

payments for X number of years.  Bomar concentrated on a good basic calculator with a

cheep price and on reducing their cost to manufacturing.  Their claim to fame was the

Bomar Brain and it quickly fell to Japanese competition.  TI grew in popularity with

students, scientist, and business people.

Once again Dunning was in the right place at the right time.  He attended an

electronics show in Dallas the second week of September 1976 and one night after

dinner at Wally's and a few drinks later, his waitress drove Jack to her place and

introduced him to Dallas hospitality.  Jack could not recall if she was a blonde or brunet,

or short or tall, but she could stay in the saddle all night.  Morning came and she was a

short blonde who cooked a decent ham and eggs breakfast.  Jack discovered over a

second cup of coffee that TI engineers when to Wally's for lunch an Jack told his little

darlin' that If he placed an order with TI, he would take her for a good steak dinner. 

Lytron 1 started production runs that quickly ncreased three months later to 10,000 per

month.  Each time Jack visited Texas Instrument he met with engineers and buyers to

satisfy their requirements and concerns.  They would go to Wally's for lunch and Jack

would pick up the tab.  Then at night Jack would take Thelma Jean for a steak dinner

at her favorite restaurant and they enjoyed dancing.  Jack prospered for several years

fulfilling Texas Instrument's printed circuit board need and Thelma Jean enjoyed steak

dinners for about two years until one day she just up and left.

Lytron 3 started making round 1.3 inch printed circuit boards the beginning of

1976 for Fairchild Semiconductor.  Fairchild was in the digital quartz wristwatch

business with light emitting diode displays from 1970 to 1975.  The Japanese were

entering the American market and Fairchild's sales were reducing each year.  Their

Light Emitting Diode watch had a battery storage problem so you would activate the

watch only when you wanting to know what time it was, then it returned to a black

screen.  Fairchild began working on Liquid Crystal Displays in 1975 and finally brought

their LCD watch to market in 1976.  The LCD watch had better battery storage, but a

rather plain design.  By 1979 Fairchild cancelled production of their LCD watches, not

because of competition from the Japanese, but from Texas Instrument and National

Semiconductor that sold their watches for $20 dollars.   

A small company in 1972 called Microma with the help of Seiko Watch in Japan

made a Liquid Crystal Diode digital watch that had a much longer battery life.  Microma

used the Intersil chip made by company start-up-founders John Hall and Jean Hoerni. 

By the end of 1973 Seiko had a LCD watch that displayed time and date constantly. 

Gone were the days of black displays displaying only the time.  Microma could no

longer compete with National and Texas Instrument regarding price and volume

manufactured.   The valley was losing its design edge in the market.            

Jack lost Fairchild and Microma orders, but gained Texas Instrument and

National, who later use Lytron for calculator and watch orders.

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