Definitions

Datapoint

Datapoint

Datapoint Corporation, originally known as Computer Terminal Corporation (CTC), was a computer company based in San Antonio, Texas, United States. Founded in 1967 by Phil Ray and Gus Roche, its first products were, as the company's initial name suggests, computer terminals (intended to replace teletype units connected to time sharing systems). In October 1969, the company raised US$4 million through an Initial Public Offering (IPO).

Early years; CTC's role in computer history

CTC is credited by some historians with accidentally inventing the personal computer. Its most popular product, the Datapoint 2200, was a programmable terminal that could load various emulations stored on cassette tapes. Some users of the terminals chose to use them as simple programmable computers instead.

The Datapoint 2200 also led to the development of the first 8-bit microprocessors, as CTC did not believe it could meet its design goals by using a CPU built from discrete TTL chips. CTC approached Intel and Texas Instruments, neither of whom could meet CTC's deadlines. Consequently, the 2200 was released using the conventional SSI/MSI chip technology of the time. Turning out to be of great historical significance, however, CTC's specifications led to the creation of the Intel 8008 single chip microprocessor. Thus, today's overwhelmingly dominant instruction set architecture, used in Intel's x86 family of processors as well as all compatible CPUs from AMD and others, traces its ancestry directly back to CTC. The 2200 had an optional disk drive using Shugart 8" floppies, single-sided, single-density which was the first commercial computer to include them. The Datapoint 2201 became so popular that CTC later changed its name to Datapoint Corp. Other Datapoint inventions were ARCnet, invented in 1977, which was an early token-passing local area network (LAN) protocol, and the PL/B high-level programming language, which was originally called Databus (from Datapoint business language) and ran under the Datashare multi-user interpreter. Later developments included a Mapped Inteligent Disc System (MIDS) which networked 2200 series terminals to a single mass storage disc operating system and enhanced Distributed Data Processing. Proprietary operating systems included DOS and RMS, and Datapoint later moved its hardware to be based on Intel 386 CPUs.

ARCnet was briefly superseded by ARCnetplus, which provided throughput of 20 Mbit/s and include options such as LiteLink which used infra-red technology to link systems in adjacent buildings. This was launched around the time 100 Mbit/s Ethernet arrived so never really took much market share.

Datapoint also developed and patented one of the earliest picture-in-picture implementations of videoconferencing called MINX (Multimedia Information Network eXchange). It was also part of the first video visitation and arraignment systems. It has been suggested they made more money from lawsuits over patent infringements than through sales of the product.

Heyday and decline

By the early 1980s, Datapoint was a Fortune 500 company. Under immense pressure to increase sales figures, its sales representatives encouraged customers to place large orders at the end of the fiscal year, permitting the company to count the orders as revenue even though the money had not been received and, in some instances, the sold equipment had not yet even been produced.

When some of the customers went broke before paying their bills, Datapoint had to reverse sales or record substantial bad debts, which caused the company to lose $800 million of its market capitalization in a matter of a few months in early 1982. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ordered Datapoint to stop this practice.

Demise and divestiture

Taken over by corporate raider Asher Edelman in 1985, Datapoint spun off its services division into another company, named Intelogic Trace, Inc. that same year. Initially Intelogic Trace specialized in servicing Datapoint equipment but later broadened into supporting products from other vendors as well. But Intelogic Trace, too, soon ran into trouble, declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and on April 6, 1995, its assets were sold to a company in Pennsylvania.

Datapoint itself weathered a subsequent battle for control of the company that triggered more attention from the SEC, and although it launched new products, it never regained its former level of innovation and prominence.

In December 1999, all of Datapoint's patented video communications technologies, along with all inventory and assets associated with the video business group was sold to one of its resellers and a company by the name of VUGATE was formed. A handful of the loyal video group employees went to work for this company which is still selling the product today.

On May 3, 2000, Datapoint filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and on June 19, 2000 sold the Datapoint name and various operations to its European subsidiary for $49.3 million. The now fully European Datapoint company changed its emphasis to call center equipment and largely pulled out of the computer market. Headquartered in Brentford, England, it also has offices in Manchester, England, and Madrid, Spain.

Also on June 19, 2000, the remnant of Datapoint's US operations changed its name to Dynacore Holdings Corporation and formed a subsidiary that pursued 14 lawsuits based on two patents granted to Datapoint regarding local area networks. With only $1.3 million left from the sale of its European operations after paying its debts and no products left to sell—its total revenues for the first half of 2001 dwindled to $9,000 and a year later fell to nothing—Dynacore searched for a company to buy. In February 2003, Dynacore engaged in a reverse takeover of The CattleSale Company. Asher Edelman now sits in CattleSale's board of directors.

In April 2003, Datapoint U.S.A., Inc. assumed control of all RMS Operating System based products from Datapoint Group(UK). Datapoint U.S.A., Inc. is based in San Antonio, TX and continues to provide RMS development, maintenance and support services to users worldwide.

An office building and street in San Antonio still bear Datapoint's name.

Re-invention

The UK business and its European subsidiaries was purchased by Alchemy Partners and has since thrived. The company employs 270 people. It is profitable, achieved £60m turnover in 2007. In 2007 it acquired the assets of Touchbases' Avaya business to expand its footprint and extend into enterprsie communincations. Datapoint's most recent geographic footprint extends to clients in 41 countries including responsibility for supporting 5,000 sites in those territories with offices located in London, Dublin, Barcelona, Milan, Paris, Utrecht and Munich.

Continuing its long standing tradition of innovation, the current Datapoint brand has become a systems integrator for enterprise and call centre communications covering all related infrastructure and applications. This is underpinned with a services portfolio that includes education, consultancy, design and systems integration, service delivery, training and support.

Datapoint is an Avaya platinum partner, the longest standing partner of Aspect and an accredited partner amongst others of Genesys, NetServices, Nexidia, Nice, Presence and Verint.

Datapoint is a Systems Integrator for Enterprise and Call Centre communications covering all related infrastructure and applications. This is underpinned with a services portfolio that includes education, consultancy, design and systems integration, service delivery, training and support.

External links

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