Monday, January 20, 2014

The End of an Era

As some know we are celebrating our 23th anniversary as entrepreneurs this year.  It has been full of highs and lows.  One of most fun achievement that we had was in the first couple of years as ReCor.  Now it is most standard corporate training with ReCor and social collaboration and BPM technology with Phora Group and our iPhora solutions.

As one starts out, you try to determine your bearings.  Usually reality hits and you throw out all the business plans and marketing stuff.  So early on we did some stuff for free hoping that something might come out of it in the future.  And that is what happened.  About a year later, the person we helped out came back to us to develop a kiosk for an exhibit.  We did not know much about kiosks at that time, but we knew technology.  You have to remember that we are talking about the early 90s and there is no Internet, Windows, Macs, fancy computers.  The latest and greatest was Intel 486 processor and VGA graphics card with a whole 64 Mbytes of memory and the beginning of touch screen technology which always turned yellow after awhile.

The requirements was that it had to be a real-time interactive touch screen application that would run everyday over and over again.  Windows 3.0 came out and it sucked.  So we had to use DOS which did not have much graphics capabilities

So my two colleagues, Rob Burton and Dan Eitel tacked with me on the development of these kiosks. With no real graphics compilers out there Rob Burton was able to find a machine code based library called Fast Graphics and we built our own language compiler that ran the kiosk in real-time.

We struggle for months to get it working, but we did it!!!

These kiosks were for the Take Flight Exhibit in the Museum of Science and Industry.  Millions and millions of attendees have seen and played with these kiosks and is one of the biggest exhibits in the Museum. If you ever attended the Museum of Science and Industry, you can not miss it.  We were able to attend the opening ceremony with all the big wigs.

These kiosks have been run everyday since. During a twitter conversation with Don McNally who was attending the Museum of Science and Industry, I was told by my colleague that the museum had recently replaced our kiosks with newer one near the end of last year.  I am very saddened and proud.  We never expect the kiosks to last 19 years of continuous use.  The kiosks were turned on by powering it up and turned off by a hard power shut down.  Gateway definitely built some nice hardware those days.

So to this day, these kiosk applications are the longest running applications that we ever built and we are proud of what we done and achieved. It was a fun project that resulted in where we are as entrepreneurs.

2 comments:

Ben Langhinrichs said...

Wonderful story. I never knew you were involved with those, but I have certainly used those kiosks with my kids. Thanks for sharing this.

Domino Interface said...

My oldest son and his cousin were the age of the target audience so they were the test subjects. Now he is getting married this year. How time flies. I see more and more grey hairs popping up.