Peripheral Exchange, LLC
In 1978, the "LightBox" was created by Gene A. Boughey as a manufacturing visual tool to aid factory technicians at Intelligent Systems Corporation on a daily basis.The Lightbox helped increase production yield on printed circuit boards (PCB's) by 30%.
The LightBox was a custom designed "shoebox-size" device having a 1000 lumen light source, reflective aluminum coated interior, and cooling source. The surface had a templated top to adapt any current 8001 series logic card to be inspected more visually by technicians.
At this time in history, outsourced PCB fabricators were producing double-sided single-layer PCB artwork and were a little sloppy in the artwork fabrication process. Many times an ultra-fine "cross" trace would render the entire PCB defective, but the LightBox made it clearer to see. The technician could then remove the errant cross trace with a sharp knife blade, or add a 30 AWG Kynar wire to a broken trace segment, and save an otherwise defective PCB. PCB manufacturing is an exact science to meet demands, and sometimes the QA falls short . In any event, MANY PCB's survived the garbage bin.
Mr. Boughey hand-produced several dozen units that were used until the 8001 series products were retired from production in the early 1990's. This was a highly successful in-house manufacturing tool. This tool was never provided for sale to the open public.
B-Box (Lunchbox) Computer
In 1984, Mr. Gene A. Boughey designed the B-Box or "Lunchbox" as a standalone portable computer device using a proprietary single-board computer, integrated 5-1/4" floppy drive, and EIA RS-232C input/output. The operating system was a stock version of Digital Research's CP/M modified to boot as a Host computer (server). The product had a multi-position handle and was the size of a lunchbox.
100 units were manufactured by Gene A. Boughey (a.k.a. MSS, Inc.) under contract for Intelligent Systems Corporation. It provided the necessary host RS-232C functions to thoroughly test the functionality of all ISC terminal products for several decades. It was also used as a "host" to provide product demonstrations by the sales force and in frequent trade shows worldwide.
In 1986, Mr. G.A. Boughey created the ColorTrend Lite Series 110A and 110B (A=110VAC, B=220VAC) product line. This utilized a then available commonplace CGA/EGA color monitor. At this point in time, the ISC group of companies included Princeton Graphics Systems (PGS). The design focus here was the PGS HX-9 (9" color EGA monitor). The overall product was essentially an independant Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) VT52 and VT100 compatible color terminal product. This was a niche product offering to several OEM's and stock market operators.
Intelligent Processing Terminal (IPT)
In 1988, Mr. Gene A. Boughey created the IPT2000 (Industrial Processing Terminal) [the 2000 part was wishful since it was still 1988!]. The product design consisted of a single-board "All-In-One" (AIO) Intel or Chips & Technology (C&T) computer card, 3-1/2" floppy drive, and 5-1/4" 1/2 high 20MB PATA (IDE) hard drive integrated within an ISC MegaTrend E01910-20E 19" EGA-based desktop monitor product platform.
Later, the product evolved into a 19" NEMA2 [water resistant, not NEMA4 water proof] color VGA monitor with embedded single-board PC electronics. This quickly caught the attention of management as a major change in corporate product development. It rapidly evolved into the WS3001 (WS meaning work station, and 3001 which was an assigned product designator) product line. This series of industrial PC workstations, which were more robust in I/O ability, and enclosure varities from standalone, rack mountable, and panel mount. The IPT concept and prototype model helped "push" the engineering department from the marketing side into a highly new successful product segment. [This line saved the company from near bankruptcy] Another note: I only wish engineering and marketing could get along a bit better! A classic problem!!!
PC8800 Emulation Software
In 1989, Mr. Gene A. Boughey and Mr. Chris Rodie began to realize that a PC based software emulation offering would perhaps be a better way to address the aging original Intecolor 8001 terminal display hardware technology and it's embedded protocol.
This direction and effort quickly included the extended 8001/3800/8800 series terminal protocols. Co-developed by Mr. Rodie (principal coder), and Mr. Boughey as (debugger/tester, and writer), the project was called "ROBO" by it's creators, and was not ordained by Intecolor which had no idea of it's existance. Once introduced to upper management [we were nearly fired], the project was embraced by management.
The marketing name "PC8800" was coined jointly by it's creators for the emulator offering, and general marketing began in 1991 with limited success since sales margins could not met or exceed actual terminal hardware revenue. The sales of the emulation product were stalled by corporate as a separate product until the mid-1990's when terminal manufacturing ceased. Sales of PC8800 then began selling along with Intecolor WS3001 workstations and individually. PC8800 is now the wholly-owned product of Mirador Software, Inc. Visit www.pc8800.com.
In 1994, Mr. Gene A. Boughey designed the ReGEN (Re-Generator) product line as an alternative to the use of Intecolor 8810/8820 Series terminals. The ReGEN stood for "re-generator" which was a separate hardware enclosure (likened to a small desktop PC box) that housed the digital electronics from the Intecolor terminal. The output of this box was a simple digital signal to drive any EGA monitor. This opened up a new avenue to utilize any size "EGA" display device whether color monitor or projection system.
Detailed History Of ISC / Intecolor
In 1973, Mr. Charles A. Muench formed Intelligent Systems Corporation (ISC). The ISC "basement team" designed a unique new color terminal product and began limited product manufacturing in the basement of a prominent residence in Duluth, Georgia, a northeast suburb of Atlanta.
The initial goal was to design an "intelligent" and affordable "color" cathode ray tube (CRT) based terminal. Until this time, most computer terminals were "dumb" (text only) using only monochrome (black and white, green, or amber) displays. ISC's new design was a breakthrough in terminal design since it offered an 8-color display with character graphics capability. A phenominal breakthrough in technology at the time!
The product was based on Intel's newest microprocessor product releases. At this point in time, Intel Corporation itself was not not much more out of the garage as a company than ISC. Although the Intel 4004 and 8008 products looked promising, ISC ultimately focused on the 8080 8-bit microprocessor from Intel. The Intel 8080 microprocessor married with additional integrated circuit chips from Texas Instruments (TI) made it possible to create a logical approach.
TI manufactured a support set of IC's such as the TMS5501 (multi-function I/O), TMS8224 (Clock/Divider), TMS8828 (Bus Controller), and TMS1702/2708/2716 family of Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory(s) (EPROMs). Once this collimation of IC products became generally available, it was the birth of many products with intelligence well beyond a simple four function calculator design. As the demand expanded and licensing to other chip manufacturers began, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), National Semiconductor (NS), and a few others began sub-licensing the TI chip designs.
ISC's first product design used the Intel 8080 processor operating at slightly under 2Mhz along with 8KB of dynamic RAM for use as screen display memory, and about 1-3KB of operating system ROM. The unique design of ISC's "custom" display generator coupled with the Intel and TI chipsets was all that was needed to bring a new product to market. The ISC display generator used the latest IC technology with customized fuse-link ni-chrome devices. Essentially, this display generator used "lattice logic" to create text, color, and graphics.
The model "Compucolor 1" was ISC's first intelligent color terminal product based on the Intel 8080 microcomputer and Texas Instruments support architecture. This product evolved rapidly and later was re-branded the name "Intecolor". The product name was derived from the founder's notion for the contracted words "Intelligent" and "Color" to come up with "Inte" and "color", or simply "Intecolor".
On a parallel path, a consumer home computer product known as the Compucolor 2 was created by basically the same design team, and operated as an independent company called Compucolor Corporation. The Compucolor 2 was positioned as one of the early full featured color home computer products selling in the $1,395 to $1,795 range. This product was considered to be the standard in home computing products years before Apple or IBM PC-based products. However, the history depicted here is not concentrated on the Compucolor 2, but on the Intecolor brand of products.
Due to recent inquiries from old Compucolor 2 customers, more information is available here.
Why Develop Such A Display Product?
The primary purpose for developing such a product was to fill a rising need from within the petrochemical, paper, electrical, and process control industry. The Intecolor terminal was the first of it's type in a market which was otherwise based on monochrome terminals with either no graphics or limited graphics ability.
Original Intecolor 8001 Series
In 1977, ISC's manufacturing operations relocated to a small warehouse and office space located at 5965A Peachtree Corners East in Norcross, Georgia. The first commercially available terminal product was the 8001 Series. Based on an RCA 19-inch delta-gun cathode ray tube (CRT) design, thousands of these terminals were sold. As newer CRT designs became available, the 8001 used pre-converged in-line (PIL) CRT designs from Hitachi, Mitsubishi, and Panasonic. This product series lasted for 20 years.
Intecolor 8050/8060 Series
In 1978, additional options were designed to extend basic terminal operations into one of the first standalone microcomputers. Operating systems incorporated within the product included a version of Extended Microsoft BASIC language (in EPROM) which was based on Microsoft BASIC (at the time). Options for 5-1/4" or 8-0" floppy disk drives (made by Wangco, Shugart, or Seimens), light pens from Information Control Systems (ICC), printer drivers supported (Centronics, Daisywriter, Okidata, Qume, Printronix and a few others), programming languages (BASIC, 8080 ASM, FORTRAN IV), and developer tools were added to the product line.
During this time, there were fewer than three companies manufacturing color microcomputer based products with a robust peripheral offering. The 8050 Series was a self-contained microcomputer system having a proprietary file control system known as FCS. It was a precursor to today's DOS based systems. The operational method of FCS differed greatly from the more modern DOS types. For example, any change to stored disk data would result in a complete compaction to avoid multiple-linked files.
The 8060 Series was also a self-contained microcomputer system but was designed to support the CP/M operating system licensed from Digital Research Incorporated (DRI) founded by Gary Alan Kildall. Both the 8050 and 8060 Series products filled a market niche until about 1993.
More Manufacturing Space Required
By 1979, sales of Intecolor terminal and microcomputer products had increased dramatically. With immediate need for more manufacturing floor space, the sales and manufacturing portion of the company relocated to 225 Technology Park/Atlanta in Norcross, Georgia. The engineering, inventory, and board level manufacturing portions of the company remained in Peachtree Corners East until late 1987. As a side note: Technology Park/Atlanta was "the" place to have facilities since the office park was comprised of the "who's who" of southern region high tech companies of that time. It was often termed as "Silicon Hill" (Georgia), patterned after Silicon Gulch (Texas), and Silicon Valley (California).
Initial Public Offering (IPO) ... Going Public!
By late 1980, Intelligent Systems Corporation prepared an initial public offering (IPO), and successfully went public on the NASDAQ market creating the necessary capital to fuel growth. At this point in time, practically all industrial control integrators, were purchasing ISC terminals for their control systems.
In the early 1980's, ISC created a Master Limited Partnership (MLP) for favorable corporate income tax purposes and acquired additional hardware and software products from other companies. The overall company effectively became known as "Intecolor an Intelligent Systems Company".
The product name Intecolor became the new corporate name for this operating division of ISC. Other companies owned were Quadram Corporation, Princeton Graphics Systems, Peachtree Software, Datavue Corporation, and a few other less notable start-up companies. By 1982, the world was looking forward to the debut of IBM's "PC" architecture. At this point , the proprietary design of the 8001 terminal seemed to be in jeopardy, but PC or not, it remained in production until 1993.
Cloning the Data And Graphics Terminal Markets
In the 1982-1985 timeframe, Intecolor began manufacturing color terminal products to address the data management and scientific graphics markets hugely dominated by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and Tektronix Corporation. Most notable were the Intecolor "ColorTrend" and Advanced Graphics Systems (AGS) terminal series.
The ColorTrend series targeted the DEC customer base since it was VT52/100/220 compatible. The AGS Series targeted the Tektronix customer base since it was 4010/4014/4105A compatible. The ColorTrend Series was moderately successful in the markets served by Northern Telecom and Baxter Health Care.
Other customers also used the product since DEC had yet to release a color terminal product till the late 1980's.
The same cannot be said for the AGS Series, since this market had many other competitive products from other vendors. It could be best described as low volume to a "write-off". Another later design based on "X" technology was designed, but failed due to competitive pressure from other vendors. By this time, Intecolor could not "pull another rabbit out of the hat" in custom terminal design.
Time To Sell Off The Assets
By 1986, Intelligent Systems Corporation MLP, realized that there was more profit to be made by selling individual business units since the stock price had peaked. Essentially, the marketable inventory, trademark, and patent rights, were sold to create profits. Individually, and in fairly rapid order, Quadram Corporation was sold to National Semiconductor. Princeton Graphics Systems was sold to Worldwide Technologies. Datavue Corporation was sold to a private entity. Peachtree Software was sold back to it's management/employee group (which is now owned by Sage Software). Intecolor Corporation was purchased by it's management/employee group with the help from it's founder. Intecolor, again reverted back to a privately held company owned by it's management team, employees (as 401K holders), and outside venture capitalists.
New Manufacturing Location Needed
Intecolor was paying for prime corporate office space along with remote warehouse spaces, which led to daily transportation of manufacturing goods from one location to another. Although, assembly operations at the Peachtree Corners East location were only a few miles away from the Technology Park/Atlanta corporate office, it became clear that the daily company truck routine was outgrowing itself. A centralized space was needed badly, and at an overall lower cost per square foot.
By 1988, Intecolor decided to relocate to a new facility in the Gwinnett Forest complex at 2150 Boggs Road, Building 100, in Duluth, Georgia. This new 60,000 square foot facility allowed all operations under one roof. This new location was about 8 miles north of Norcross, Georgia and became the all-in-one facility for manufacturing, engineering, inventory, accounting, shipping, receiving, marketing, and sales. Since the distance from the original offices to the new location were under 8 miles away, most employees were retained. For once, all aspects of the company resided in a central place making it much easier to conduct daily business.
Monitor products addressing generic PC markets and custom monitors for OEM applications continued to evolve rapidly in the mid 1980's. Market conditions showed that large format color monitors were needed for the PC marketplace.
The MegaTrend product line began it's humble beginnings as one of the first 19-inch CGA/EGA monitors available in the PC marketplace. So the "Mega" meaning big, and "Trend" meaning the trend towards larger displays, led to the product line name.
As PC video standards evolved, many versions of the product line were manufactured to address standard video interfaces as well as custom "proprietary" interfaces. The MegaTrend was produced from 1985 till 1991. By this time, many OEM companies had settled on their own specific graphics generator and many other monitor manufacturers entered the marketplace. As time passed, many monitor designs were designed but not related to the MegaTrend Series. Future monitor designs took on a product nomenclature such as E01954-20x, or E20Hxxxxx. See Archived Monitors.
New Terminal Product Offerings
The original 8001 terminal series was showing it's age
which led to the development and manufacture of the 8800 and 3800 series product lines. The 8001
product line utilized three independent logic
boards to achieve a working product. Given advances in newer
technology, the 8800 and 3800 series product lines were designed
to have one logic board rather than three.
The 8800 Series proved to be successful as the upgrade path from the 8001 series as well as the smaller 3800 series. Both the 3800 and 8800 series terminal product lines flourished until late 1996.
The 8800 and 3800 Series terminals were based on the Zilog Z80 processor technology with CPU speeds of 4 to 8 Mhz.
What Happened To Intelligent Systems Corporation (ISC) MLP?
After the sell-off of most of it's divisions, Intelligent Systems MLP evolved into a high-tech incubator company helping high technology start-up companies develop products or services. ISC still exists today but has no corporate or financial relationship to Intecolor. Visit www.intelsys.com to learn more about the modern day workings of ISC.
8001 Intecolor Terminal Emulation Software
In 1991, Intecolor began offering a terminal emulation software product bundled with an industrial PC workstation product to address the terminal replacement market. However, the combined cost of emulation software and the PC workstation product was significantly more in cost than the terminal product. At this point in time, terminals were still being manufactured, and the emulation software could not generate the equivalent gross revenue, so the emulation solution remained in the background.
Leaping forward, the Intecolor terminal emulation software (ITE8001) is marketed as a software only product and also bundled with a variety of low cost, highly reliable industrialized PC based computers.
Terminals Destined For Obsolesce
By 1992, Intecolor partnered with several OEM companies to build custom color monitor products and rack mount computer products. A PC-based "workstation" product line referred to the "WS" series was created as a combination of an Intecolor monitor with PC compatible hardware. At the same time, custom color monitor products were being made for Allen-Bradley, Honeywell, Westinghouse, and Bailey Controls (now ABB).
The classic product lines including the 8001, 8800, 3800, ColorTrend, AGS, and numerous other terminal models were rapidly discontinued due to accelerating product obsolescence. By mid 1993, these product lines were either discontinued or rapidly being manuactured. Custom engineering of PC based computers and further broadening of color monitor designs became Intecolor's new marketing horizon and product line direction.
Peripheral Exchange Provides Intecolor Product Services
In July 1993, the classic Intecolor product line had come to an end. The major thrust had become primarily based on color monitor technology (CRT based), along with industrialized PC-based products, and the beginnings of TFT LCD flat panel display product offerings. Intecolor was positioning itself to manufacture newer product designs to stay ahead of a growing number of competitors. As a result, support for the classic product lines was left behind and became non-existent at best.
Peripheral Exchange was formed by G.A. Boughey at this time as a service company to continue the service and support of Intecolor classic products for OEM's and the end-user customer base.
Rockwell Automation Buys Intecolor For Cash
In May 1996, Rockwell Automation completed a total cash buyout of Intecolor Corporation for an undisclosed amount, but was rumored to be about $27 million dollars. Upon this acquisition, Intecolor became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rockwell Automation and took on the name "Intecolor/Rockwell Automation". Rockwell Automation needed a small company like Intecolor, to fulfill their need for color CRT monitors, TFT LCD flat panel displays, and industrialized PC products for their Allen-Bradley division.
As part of the purchasing arrangement, the top Intecolor management agreed to stay intact for a specified term (around 4 years) to keep the new acquisition running smoothly. Meanwhile, Rockwell management bolstered it's management team presence within the Intecolor offices in Duluth, Georgia. By 2001 (or slightly earlier), the entire original Intecolor management team had retired or were replaced.
Changes in Business Activity
By 1998, Intecolor/Rockwell Automation had discontinued repair and support services on the classic terminal product lines. Repair and support services continued on color monitor products, PC based workstations, and flat-panel monitors. By Fall 2000, Intecolor/Rockwell Automation had ceased production of CRT-based monitors altogether.
A stockpile of CRT monitors were built and warehoused as the last production run took place. All efforts were placed on industrialized color TFT LCD flat panel display systems. The ever decreasing cost of flat panel technology and market research showed that flat panel products were the new display technology of choice. The sales of CRT-based products were on a steep decline.
Say Goodbye to Intecolor as a Name Brand
By 2001, Rockwell Automation decided to dismantle and cease the use of the Intecolor brand product and product name. Effectively the name Intecolor would disappear from the marketplace. The Intecolor flat panel products would continue to be manufactured and sold under the Allen-Bradley name and marketed through AB distribution channels.
On September 25, 2001, the Intecolor corporate web site described Rockwell's management decision to close facilities in Duluth, Georgia, and encouraged customers to contact Allen-Bradley's new support facilities. Over 200 Intecolor employees, (many having 15 to 25 years experience), lost their jobs as part of the shut down process. For all practical purposes, the support of the original Intecolor product ceased to exist as did the wealth of technical knowledge.
Although, the AB site offers support for "all" Intecolor products, it is strongly advised to contact Peripheral Exchange for product support. The Intecolor/Rockwell Automation operations in Duluth, Georgia closed it's operations in October 2001.
Who Services Intecolor Terminal Products Today?
Peripheral Exchange acquired the inventory of several Intecolor service centers throughout the 1990's. In addition, a significant amount of Intecolor/Rockwell Automation's inventory was purchased prior to the Duluth Georgia factory closing in late September 2001.
By specializing primarily on Intecolor brand repairs and refurbishments, many other multi-line service providers used our company on a subcontractor basis. We are dedicated to provide service and support of Intecolor products as a service arm to former OEM's and the end-user customer base.
Although demands for our services have diminshed due to product obsolescence, we are available to provide modern day solutions.