ibm-chaplin-featuredWho else has been watching this series?

Halt and Catch Fire is in its second season on AMC, winding down to the season finale this past¬†Sunday night. The show centers around a group of characters that are all chasing their entrepreneurial tech dreams during the late 1980’s. Season 1 follows the development of the IBM PC clone – cracking the IBM copyrighted BIOS. Season 2 focuses on the development of an online gaming network and IRC-type chat service. Having lived in Austin, TX while at school during the 1980’s tech explosion I’ve been captivated by the characters and the specific venture each is pursuing. The proximity of all of the show’s action to Austin in the 1980’s brings back a lot of memories! It’s also had me think about some ventures we’ve worked on over the years at Allied Pixel and Haley Productions.

Proposal Wizard

Proposal Wizard was a service we developed for the Radio Advertising Bureau. The service was utilized by radio stations across the country. It facilitated the creation of Ad proposals by a radio station by integrating market research done by the Radio Advertising Bureau, into a web based proposal creation system. Similar in some respects to Halt and Catch Fire, we developed the web service in our company’s basement, and launched it from the basement of our local cable company’s tech engineer. His cable modem was Proposal Wizard’s onramp to the internet. We were using bleeding edge technology, and had high hopes our client would enroll many radio stations. Unfortunately, the internet was too new for many radio stations to see the value in using an online ad creation service. The service lasted about 5 years.

Family Heirloom

In early 2000 we worked on developing a subscription based service called Family Heirloom. Family Heirloom, in retrospect, was essentially Facebook before its time. It facilitated members connecting with other family members, but only if members approved invitations to connect from other members. Our client had created the marketing arm of Cutco Knives. Cutco’s marketing model was to employ college kids, home on summer break, to sell knives to family members and relatives. Using the same model, Family Heirloom would be a subscription service with college kids, primarily, selling subscriptions to family members. The concept of the site had a lot of interest in the local public, but unfortunately, the venture capital required to initiate the marketing plan dried up before the service could establish itself.

Our web business has moved to developing and maintain websites as opposed to developing online services. Proposal Wizard and Family Heirloom were great experiences for us. Got some good stories about your business ventures? Let’s discuss over a nice IPA!

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