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A HISTORY OF COMPUTER COMMUNICATIONS: 1968 -1988

MICOM IN BRIEF

Micom began life as American Data Systems (ADS) in 1968 when two executives left their employer with experience and an idea: how to leverage advances in semiconductor technology to create a superior multiplexer. Soon they attracted both talent and venture capital investors and, before the end of 1968, introduced their revolutionary time division multiplexer. Far superior to the existing frequency division multiplexers, ADS was soon riding the success of their ADS-660 to sales of an astonishing $5 million in 1969. Burning cash at an equally voracious rate, and not having access to the now vanished public market, management turned to the attractive arms of a corporate investor, North American Rockwell, a key semiconductor chip supplier and a major defense and space contractor. it was a defense contract that had led to their innovating a high speed lease-line modem, one they were willing to let ADS commercialize. ADS management was soon to learn, as had Codex management before them, that successfully mastering the problems of a high speed lease-line modem was harder than thought. In the span of a few years, ADS was bankrupt. One indefatigable engineer, Bill Norred, refused to give up, however, and armed with a contract from an existing customer desperately needed a version of an ADS multiplexer, incorporated Micom. He soon recruited Roger Evans to join him and, after one crises after another and last minute venture capital investment, they innovated a low cost statistical multiplexer. They could not manufacturer their Micro800 Data Concentrator fast enough. In 1981, Micom went public with a market capitalization of $190 million. Needing more management they recruited Steve Frankel. Micom too was pulled into the emerging Networking and Internetworking markets, although they tried through acquisition: Interlan and Spectrum Digital. Paul Severino, a founder of Interlan, served as Vice-President of Product Planning and Technology, before he would leave to found Wellfleet Communications. In 1988, Micom's fortunes had withered and a leverage buyout firm took Micom private and in the process dismantled what had been a darling of Wall Street.