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Chapter 3 - Data Communications: Emergence 1956-1968

3.9 American Data Systems Off and Running 1968

In the spring of 1968, Art Wilkes neighbor, John Kinmouth and a group of his friends invested $100,000 in ADS. Wilkes and Bob Schaaf next began pounding the pavement for a first customer while Bill Norred continued to labor in Wilke’s garage to finish a working prototype of their TDM. The more people Wilkes and Schaaf talked to, the more they believed their window of opportunity would be brief if one believed all the rumors of competition. If they could just close IBM’s time-sharing operation – Service Bureau Corporation – as a customer, then they could withstand any competitive onslaught, or so they thought.

Summer turned to fall before the ADS-660 shipped. Even so, it could multiplex three times as many terminals – forty-five as opposed to fifteen – as the most competitive frequency division multiplexer. They knew they had a winner and so did IBM, signing a contract to purchase over $1 million of product. Norred remembers:

It was a big hit mainly because the timing of it was coupled with the time-sharing industry really starting to emerge.

For 1968, ADS had sales of $750,000. 1969 looked to be a blockbuster year.