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Overview

NEW SONGS POSTED

04/05/2010:     I'm currently working on a new song that's utterly different than all my previous recordings I've posted. I'm basing the new song on a http://www.freesound.org/index.php audio track that offers a solid synth backing track. You won't be disappointed with the song name..
 
06//2010:     I just posted a new mega blues-rock recording - "Dusty Roads".   This song is based on a Geoff Whitehorn backing track, but the lead work rocks hardcore!   Check it out...  The recording quality is awesome!
 
04/26/2010:     I just posted a new mega blues-rock recording - "Dusty Roads".   This song is based on a Geoff Whitehorn backing track, but the lead work rocks hardcore!   Check it out...  The recording quality is awesome!
 
04/19/2010:     I also recently posted another "jam track" called "Heavy Machinery".   It's very rough around the edges, but it still sounds cool!

Personal Background

I'm a software engineer with an extensive career over a wide area of specialties spanning some 23+ years. I had humble enough beginnings, writing software while conducting tech support calls for a major computer equipment manufacturer (AST Research) in the late 1980's. I operated or owned some of the largest entertainment online systems in Southern California in the late 1980's and early 1990's. I've had two separate software companies, one that won several awards and made a major impact in the field of online graphical tecnology throughout the 1990's. Since then, I've been writing application and embedded software for a variety of gaming companies involved in the casino industry. In addition, I've done quite a bit of contracting work as a software engineer since 2000.

For a more detailed description of my career, see the bottom of this web page (it's mostly about my old software company, TeleGrafix Communications, Inc.)

Music Composition

On and off throughout my life, I've been aspiring musician. I've focused heavily on lead guitar playing, and used to hang around bands and clubs in the late 80's "hair metal" days. The majority of this site is dedicated to my musical endeavors which I've focused on pretty heavily since 2000. Since heavy metal has been such a strong influence in my life, my musical style has developed similarly.

Below are songs I have written and recorded. Most is completely original music, with exception of some of the drum tracks which are derived from purchased MIDI drum tracks from Drumtrax, and a few "backing tracks" that I put my own spin on..

 
Original Song Creations
These songs are tunes that I have composed and performed in my home recording studio.   Some of the songs are based on previously recorded "backing tracks" by professional musicians, while others are true original creations of mine.  I have documented any tracks that are based on previous artists' recordings.

All of these MP3's are high quality recordings.  The ones at the top are my more recent (and coincidentally) better pieces.

 Album Name: Twisted Roots

This album is a mixture of original compositions as well as my own versions of existing "backing track" songs.  For the backing tracks, I have added my own flavor over top of the songs, with little-to-no regard for the original song composition.  In other words, they are essentially totally new songs.

Release Date / Title
  Author  Len  Size  Comments

04/26/2010 - Dusty Roads   Jeff Reeder   5:12   6.97 mb Backing by Geoff Whitehorn
04/19/2010 - Heavy Machinery   Jeff Reeder   1:52   3.02 mb (Original Composition)
06/20/2006 - Crystal Spires   Gary Moore   6:35   6.03 mb Backing by Gary Moore - Very rough
06/20/2006 - Call of the White Horn   Geoff Whitehorn   5:42   5.22 mb Backing by Geoff Whitehorn
06/16/2005 - Sunset on the Beach   Gary Moore   6:07   8.80 mb Backing by Gary Moore - Very rough
01/25/2005 - Moore Than Enough   Gary Moore   6:24   8.80 mb Backing by Gary Moore - Very rough
12/07/2003 - A Touch of Pink   Unknown artist  4:02   6.50 mb  
06/17/2005 - Call of the White Horn (#2)  Geoff Whitehorn   5:43   5.13 mb Backing by Geoff Whitehorn

 

 Album Name: Glimpse

These are early works, all of which are original, except for a few drum tracks that I bought on the Internet.

Release Date / Title
  Len  Size  Comments

04/15/2003 - Too Blue to be New - Version 2  3:31   4.90 mb Remake of an old tune, much better!
08/12/2003 - NeverWhere   5:05   7.00 mb
12/26/2002 - Living Free   3:49   5.37 mb
10/03/2002 - Lost Dreams   3:33   4.95 mb
07/01/2002 - Forsaken Souls   3:59   5.63 mb
06/08/2002 - Synergy   5:40   8.16 mb
05/27/2002 - Hell Raiser   3:43   5.23 mb (I'm re-recording this)
01/20/2002 - That Which Has No Name   3:50   5.40 mb
11/18/2001 - Bam Bam She Bad   6:05   8.55 mb
10/27/2001 - Tryste   2:35   3.65 mb
08/15/2001 - Silver Flyer   3:57   5.58 mb

 

Listen At Your Own Risk
These are extremely rough ideas that may or may not end up being full-fledged songs.

Release Date / Title
  Len  Size
11/03/2004 - Squeelie   1:01   2.34 mb     Experiment / long-term idea
 
The Guitars
Carvin DC-747C 7-String (Custom Edition)
In mid 2005, I ordered this sweet number from Carvin's custom shop. And it was made exactly to my specification. I had to wait two long months before it arrived, but the wait was well worth it! This guitar has deep, growling tones, with piercing highs, and incredible sustain. The sustain's actually better than my Jackson! I think I need to switch to some genuine Seymour Duncan pickups though. These stock ones aren't much to my liking. The Seymours on the Jackson sing. Unforutnatley, 7-string guitars don't have a huge selection of good quality pickups to choose from.

This monster has a 25 1/2" scale, with a tongue oiled neck that makes the extra width not so difficult to handle. Hands glide effortlessly on the neck. It's got beautiful gold plated finish and Sperzel locking tuners (these rock by the way!). With two humbucking main pickups, and a single coil center, variety is there. To top that, there's single coil/double coil toggle switches for both humbuckers, and there's even a phase switch to munge the sound even more. The neck is rock maple, the body is alder, with a quilted maple face. It's a neck-through, with incredible access to the highest frets and beyond. Abalone fret block inlays on the ebony fretboard top off the image with elegance.

But that deeb blue/black finish is spooky. In ordinary light conditions, it appears dark and ominous. In bright light, it comes alive! Take a look here and see for yourself! I can only imagine what this guitar would look like on a stage, with the bright lights and all that. Ho hum...

Jackson Soloist (USA Custom Edition) Guitar
A couple years ago, someone very dear to me gave me this beauty. It's a "custom edition" Jackson Soloist (one of the U.S.A. models from their custom department). Thank you every so much Mara, for getting this incredible guitar for me. The bengal tiger finish is incredible. The action is flawless. The harmonics are awesome. It has a beautiful tone, sustain, and the tremelo is smooth as glass. After the SG copy I had (see below), this guitar spoiled me nicely.

I had a roomate in Alabama who collected guitars - he had some incredible, old Gibson and Fenders that played oh-so-sweet. But this Jackson guitar blows 'em all away, hands down. Click on that bengal tiger bad boy to the right for a better shot of it!

Jay Turser SG-Style
I resumed my guitar life with a high-gloss black Jay Terser SG knockoff that had great sound and action. I found it in a little shop in Alabama. After I upgraded the tuning pegs on it, and slapped some EMG pickups on it, the thing screamed. It had its ups and downs for a few years until I finally found a guitar tech who knew his stuff. Then it started to really shine as a lead guitar. My first "real" guitar, years and years before, was a schweeeet Gibson Explorer "custom edition" with a Kahler tremelo - I loved it, but I relied on the wammy bar way too much - my scales and overall playing suffered due to poor mastering of the slam bar. So, I intentionally purchased this guitar, without any kind of tremelo bar, so I could focus all of my energy on fingering - no wammy bar to assist me. For two and a half years I labored on this guitar. It never wanted to stay in tune. It was tempramental, and a pain-in-the-ass, but oh did it sound great when it worked right. Eventually, I got it working great and deeply loved the growl that it could pump out. Those Zakk Wylde EMG's I slapped on it gave it juice. But after nearly three years, I ran out of patience on this thing. OOOOOooooh was the next level of guitar playing to be exquisite! I got a Jackson guitar...

Epiphone Bass
My latest edition is an Epiphone bass guitar. I picked this up from an old friend. It plays great, and really rounds out my guitar category nicely. Besides, I was getting to truly hate MIDI bass. My sound card is great, but it's bass is only so good. I really needed an actual bass guitar. I've recently begun completely rethinking the way I start off creating new songs. Having a real bass to sculpt the layout of the song along with the drums is a new approach for me. It's ten times better than trying to play something through a "piano roll" via a MIDI bass instrument to establish a "base-line" melody. It ends up being too mechanical sounding, and lacks any kind of "feeling."

I've had to get into a whole new style of playing now that I have this instrument to assist me. Along with the Hartke 3500 bass amp (and it's a monster), I've got more gain and thump than I could ever want. The trick is now getting my equipment to get a good signal from it that doesn't clip-out due to the amp's voracity! Even it's direct "line-out" is hot-as-hell.

Gary Reeder Custom-Made Banjo
Back in the early 80's, my dad custom-made several banjos for friends and family. This one is built like a tank, with gorgeous mother-of-pearl and abalone inlay work on the neck and headstock. This was originally my grandfather's until he passed away, then it was passed on to me with the mandate that it never leave the family. My dad spent a great deal of time custom making these banjos - designing everything pretty much from scratch - the neck, resonator, head stock, etc. I just wish I knew how to play it.

Dulcimer and Violin
My wife has a couple instruments as well. This dulcimer and violin were instruments she learned to play as a young woman. The violin was made around the year 1888. The dulcimer's origin is unknown.

 
Music Equipment (A Brief History of Time)
In late 2000, I returned to the world of electric guitar. Mostly to escape the boredome from being stationed in the backwoods of Alabama on a job for nearly a year. Boredom was a killer.

My friend Walt and I both got back into playing guitar at the same time. We started this god-forsaken-job on the same day, and became fast friends. Coincidentally, we both stopped playing guitar nearly a decade before. I went broke and had to sell my equipment to keep a roof over my head. He quit for similar reasons. But we always yearned to return to the axe-wielding position. It beckoned.

At one point while we were down in this dinky town in Alabama, Walt and I learned a local country bar was closing down. They were selling all the bar's assets. Since it was also a dance club, we "honed-in" immediately on the PA system. Walt nabbed this monster PA system (1200 watts, with the speaker cabinets to back it up!) for a measly $1000.

My First Mixing Board
I snatched up a mixing board. It was a Peavey Unity Series 1000 8-track mixing board for $100. Back when I used to play guitar (like 14 years prior) I never dreamed of having my very own mixing board. But here this was, at a great price. Rugged as hell, and reliable until the day it dies. It was mine!

 
Early Toys

The Marshall Practice Amp
Among my earliest equipment was a Marshall model "G15R CD" practice amp. At 45 watts and it's compact size, it was perfect for my early playing needs.

Oh yeah, I picked up the cat at about the same time. Her name is Coco, and she's probably the most awesome cat that's ever existed (and NO, I didn't name her).

The ART E.C.C. Effects Unit
I picked up an A.R.T. ECC multi-effects foot unit, and wow! A lot more impressive than all the old BOSS foot units I used to have what I had twelve years ago! Overdrive, compression, delay, noise gate, chorus, reverb, and a dozen other effects, all built into a single (small) box! No more pedals with all their noise buildup!

But alas, it was noisy. It sucked for recording. All the recordings came out distorted, with clipping and other audio artifacts that made the recording sound terrible. I needed something better, that would stand up for recording purposes.

 
The "Rack-Mount" Age
The answer, was to go "rack-mount" with my gear. Rack-mount signal processors are top-notch, professional grade equipment. As you can see, I've acquired quite a few pieces for my rack. The only thing I can say is, "Holy Mother of Gawd!!!" The difference between rack-mount gear, and foot stomp boxes is incredible. The sound is better (once you get everything setup properly).


 Roland GP-100

Walt bought this cool rack mount unit that embodies your guitar with incredible range and diversity of sounds. The GP-100 was an incredible little rack toy. I wanted one so bad, I could taste it. I finally stuck it out and bought one off of eBay. Got it brand new in the box for $450. What a steal. It was like Christmas when it arrived. When I opened it, I fell in love. It made the A.R.T. ECC foot-unit look like a bad toy. The sound was crisp, with frequency dynamic ranges I never thought I could afford. The ECC went into the closet. So did the Marshall amp for that matter! My PA system was more than enough coupled with the GP-100.


 ART Model 341 Equalizer

But I still wasn't satisfied. I picked up the A.R.T. 341 rack mount Dual 15 Band EQ. It gave me great control over my guitar tone. Now I could sculpt the sound I wanted from the GP-100. I learned that this little beast can be patched in just about anywhere. I use it for my guitar, but when I need a hardware EQ, it's versatility is excellent. It's XLR connections makes it a great candidate for a house PA system too.


 Korg ToneWorks DTR-2 Tuner

Add a Korg ToneWorks DTR-2 Digital Tuner, and I was well on my way. This little toy saved me quite a bit of money during a time when I was constantly screwing with the intonation of my Jay Turser SG guitar. It had a chronic problem at one point in it's life where it liked to throw its intonation all to hell in no time at all. I purchased this toy so I could have an accurate readout on my current tuning. It really helped with intonation, and tuning in freaky effects situations. Try tuning a guitar "by ear" when you have a flanger turned on. This tool allows you to tune the instrument regardless of the effects that are turned on.


 Mesa/Boogie Triaxis Tube Pre-Amp

But then I hit another wall... The Roland's preamp circuitry wasn't what I wanted. I needed something with ultra crispy gain, heinous crunch. Something well suited for recording purposes.

Enter the Mesa Boogie Triaxis tube-based preamp. With its five tubes and extensive editing range, I soon had a rig that screamed with gain, and had all the awesome sounds. All of a sudden those EMG pickups I invested in screamed into life with all the attitude that anybody could want!


 DBX 266-XL Compressor/Gate

But I still wasn't happy! I needed more edge from my gain - something that would push the harmonics into those squealing tones from Zakk Wylde on Ozzy's "No More Tears" CD. So I went out and picked up a DBX 266XL dual channel Compressor/Gate. This let me compress my tone where I wanted to with more detail than the Roland provided. It also gave me a more finely tuned noise gate.


 Lexicon MPX-500 Effects Processor

The GP-100 starting showing some of it's shortcomings. It's reverb wasn't very good, and its delay was moderately ok. So I went out and got a Lexicon MPX 500 24-bit dual channel processor to give me that cool feel. My sound was getting great! The reverb on this unit was hands down better. It's delay circuitry was also incredible. My sound was getting better by the day!

 
The Amps
 Mesa/Boogie Simul 2:90 Power Amp
I'd been building my rack-mount gear for a couple of years. But the one thing I was really missing was a good stereo guitar amplifier. Well, the Mesa/Boogie TriAxis pre-amp was specially designed to work with the Mesa/Boogie Simul 2:90 amp, so guess what I went out and got? You got it, the Simul 2:90 from Mesa/Boogie. I found a brand new one on eBay for $600 (lists for $1300). It was in pristine condition, still with the factory warranty. This sucker is super loud, and has a lot of options even though the front panel is deceptively simple. It has jacks on the back that connect-up directly to the TriAxis, whereby things like Deep Mode, 1/2 Drive and Modern Modes can be turned on/off via MIDI through the pre-amp. This gives quite a bit of variety in sounds.

 Hartke 3500 Bass Amp
Now that I had a bass guitar, I found out that my guitar rack-mount equipment didn't work very well with a bass guitar. The low-ends just weren't there. The bass sounded like a crumby guitar, with no real bass response to speak of. So I picked up the Harte 3500 rack-mount bass amp from a friend, Dan. Not only does it pump out 350 watts of bass attitude, but it also is a combination tube/solid-state pre-amp, where you can "dial-in" the levels of each pre-amp (tube or solid state) to tweak your sound even better. Add-in a "line-out" connection on the back, and I was totally stoked about using this in my rig to give me great sounding bass.

 
Speaker Cabinets
 Jackson 4x12 Stereo Half-Stack
Over the last few years, I've purchased a couple 4x12 half-stack cabinets. The first was a Jackson cabinet I got from a co-worker for $150. Talk about a great deal. He just didn't need it for anything other than as a table. It sounds awesome - tight highs, and solid lows that can shake the house down around your ears. I'd love to have a full-stack made up of these gnarly speaker cabinets, but alas, they're no longer made by Jackson, and nobody seems to be selling them. Jeeesh - I wonder why....?

 Carvin 4x12 Stereo Half-Stack
In the summer of 2003, I was down in Arizona at my friend Walt's place, and he decided he didn't want his Carvin half-stack any longer. It was stuck in the back corner of a closet gathering dust. So I snarfed it up for another $150. Yowza - a full blown stack for $300! The Carvin doesn't sound quite as nice as the Jackson, but with both being stereo, I get a great combination sound!

Event Project Studio 8 PA Speakers
While I was living in Minnesota, I picked up a pair of these Event Project Studio 8, Bi-amplified PA reference speakers. They have a great frequency reproduction, and work out very well for mixing final tracks. I would prefer to have a couple serious PA colums, or the monster horizon 1200 watt PA setup that Walt has, but I don't have any room for stuff this sized. These work great as a compromise though.

 
Pedalboards
The Foot Pedals
Alas, something still wasn't right. I couldn't change the sound of my guitar without twisting a knob on one rack-mount unit or another. Kindof hard to do that when you're in the middle of a solo. So, I had to purchase a MIDI foot unit to control all the gear (well, most of it at least) - hence the Roland FC-200 MIDI foot controller... I won't bore you with how much of a pain it was to get this through my local Roland dealer, even as a special purchase! The second one came from my buddy Walt who didn't need his anymore.

Cables - Everybody needs 'em
Along the way, you'll spend quite a bit on cables from Radio Shack and local music store(s). Be prepared for this. You'll need lots of 1/4" patch cables, guitar cables, speaker cables, power cables, power strips, and the like. And just when you think the cable nightmare is over, you'll need the MIDI stuff, and the ones you'll need to hook into your computer. Cables are a never ending story. Again, be prepared for this!

The Goodie Box
One thing that I've found to be invaluable, is the Goodie Box. This is basically a glorified tackle box or the like, with lots of compartments. I keep all my wiring adapters, guitar strings, wire cutters, tubes, tools, and various other junk that I wouldn't want to carry around by hand. The more that you start going out to other people's houses, or jam at clubs, you'll need bigger and bigger Goodie Boxes. So far, I haven't needed one too terribly large. It holds what I need, but can only hold about 20 cables. I need something much larger when I decide to go out and start jamming with people! Be prepared to buy a lot of RCS-to-1/4" guitar jack cables, and a bunch of RCA gender changers among other things.

 
Mr. Computer
 PC Recording System

I've also got my guitar rig plugged into my computer, which I use for digital multi-track recording! Using Cakewalk SONAR 2.2 XL, I lay down one track after another until I've got what I want.

The capabilities I've experienced through this recording system have been nothing short of indescribable! I've struggled with limited recording techniques in the past, where only the rich could go into recording studios.

Now you... Me... Joe Shmo... or your dog...can pump out serious-quality recordings -- those worthy of posting online and/or broadcasting.

 The Mixing Board - Connectivity!

You'll need to get yourself a small mixing board to get started. Behringer 6/8-track units seem to be handy, and cheap (under $90). If you can spend the money and grab one of the 16-20 track models like I have shown here (about US $225), I'd highly recommend it.

This one is a Behringer EuroRack MX 2004A I got from a local music shop in St. Cloud, MN. It got lucky and found one with a flat-black finish. Having almost landed a job with Mackie Designs, I was surprised by this brand - I'd never heard of it before. But it turned out to be a great 20 channel mixer (4 are stereo inputs). My life was getting schweeeeet!

If you get into this seriously, you're going to need equipment like this (especially if you "jam" at other people's places, or if you tour).

Once you get the initial equipment, you'll go "hog wild" with "connectivity". You'll want to connect your gear to everything you own. If you get seriously into MIDI-compatible rack-mount gear, you'll have to spend some dough to get totally fixed-up.

TIP: If you take this to conclusion, you'll be mega-ready for high-end audio productions.

NOTE: Try not to go too crazy on the cable purchasing. It's a very easy pitfall to fall victim to. You ARE going to need quite a few cables -- RCA, 1/4", XLR, and 3.5mm computer speaker jacks will become very familiar to you. You're inevitably going to have to purchase numerous adapters from Radio Shack. It can get to be a major "dent" in your wallet. All I can say is to stick with what you need right now - don't worry about "what if I need this thingie for such-and-such in the future?"

If you have a mixing board and/or a computer connected to your rig, then you'll need quite a few cables. Resign yourself to this fact up-front. I got myself a big fisherman's tackle box to store all those cables and adapters, but I quickly ran out of space for the cables. It holds all of the adpaters nicely though.

When you have to start integrating equpiment, you're going to need to inter-connect them. This is going to mean a lot of 1/4" jack (unbalanced) cables. My rack needs quite a few of the 6" and 12" patch cables. The 2 foot and 3 foot cables have also come in handy.

I've also got several rack-mount units that take advantage of XLR cables. These balanced audio cables are "hotter" than the 1/4" unbalanced variety. You have to compensate for their "hot-ness" (i.e., -4 Db for XLR, -10 Db for 1/4") in your electronics. If you feed XLR inputs into equipment, make sure their impedance levels are properly set.

It goes without saying at this stage, that you'll want to purchase the best equipment you can afford: Amps, Cabinets, Effects units, Instruments, performers, and anything else you need.

Cables are more durable than you think. But remember, those cables that are heavily used, are more apt to break. Check them often. Don't ignore them. You can save yourself a great deal of time if you remember to check those cables that you "take for granted" in your Rig's configuration.

You're about to embark on a journey that will result in incredible revelations about sound engineering. If you play an instrument, you'll receive even more rewards!

 Drums (Percussion)

Since I'm not a drummer, I use the computer to play drums for me. You can purchase canned drum tracks to start from at DrumTrax.com. I can't tell you how much this service assisted my guitar evolution. Nearly any song I've put out in the last two years is based on DrumTrax excerpts. Thank god they don't prevent you from doing stuff with their percussive melodies!

I have used DrumTrax MIDI files extensively, and I highly recommend them! Just take the .MID files you get from DrumTrax and apply your favorite Drum-Set SoundFont. Voila! Instant drummer. In fact, the variety in melodies, categorized the way they have them, makes selecting "grooves" much simpler than any other serice I've found.

 
TeleGrafix Communications

I wrote software while conducting tech support calls for a major computer equipment manufacturer (AST Research) in the late 1980's. As I evolved into assisting in the adminstration of their international dial-up bulletin board systems (BBS) that allowed customers to obtain product information, drivers and answers to their customer service questions. They ran some 20 different systems around the world to provide customer service options for customers all over. During my tenure at AST, I discovered chat rooms and the incredible social advantages of the online world - nearly ten years before the World Wide Web was be born.

My next career move was to take on the Lead Software Engineer role for Southern California's largest dial-up online system (MedCom BBS) in 1988. They had an unheard of 105 incoming phone lines for their customers, X.25 network connections and several T1 lines allowing customers to login to the site. It was an incredible experience, and I learned an immense number of skills that helped forge the foundation for my future career.

When MedCom BBS shutdown in 1990, my future wife and I decided to fill the gap in the local "social networking" scene by creating ArenaBBS. Based in Orange County, CA, ArenaBBS became one of the premier subscription-based, family oriented entertainment social networking sites of the time; not only for Southern California, but also holding a noteworthy place in the nation's pantheon of major online systems in the early 1990's. With 32 incoming phone lines, and local access dial-in numbers throughout the majority of Southern California, we had unprecedented exposure to a huge population of would-be customers. In our "hey day", we had local dial-in numbers throughout Orange County, a big chunk of Los Angeles county, some in San Fernando valley, Riverside county, and a major dial-up portal stretching halfway down the coast to San Diego. In effect, we had local dial-up coverage over many thousands of square miles. Not bad for a server that was physically only two miles from the beach, with half of it's local dialing area spread out over the Pacific Ocean!

We pioneered new chat room concepts that are in-use to this day, and even developed software products other sites could use for their systems. By mid-1992, I had a healthy product line of software products for the GalactiComm MajorBBS platform we were using. The CovyWare product line sold well, and was often imitated by competitors in the marketplace. In fact, ArenaBBS proved to be a "proving ground" for new online social networking concepts that had many a corporate spy evaluating our innovative technologies, and in some cases, stealing our ideas to create their own software products.

In late 1992, the local BBS market changed. The server technology changed such that people with a few thousand dollars could start their own systems. They took our business model and started their own sites. Our customer base began to dilute. In an effort to create something that would draw customers to ArenaBBS, I invented a new "graphical" interface for our site. The goal was to have something nobody else had. All the BBS systems of that age were text-based environments, and Microsoft Windows 3.1 was just starting to become popular. The era of a graphical "point-and-click" interface was gaining ground with a population frustrated with difficult DOS-era text interfaces. More and more users were expecting an easy to use graphical interface, often shunning the older "text-based" DOS-style computer model that had dominated the 1980's. ArenaBBS was ground zero for the first-ever majorly accepted graphical user interface for online systems.

The technology I invented was called RIPscrip, which was short for "Remote Imaging Protocol Script".

The original intent was to use RIPscrip only for ArenaBBS - to bring new customers expecting an easier interface to our site to build our business model. As RIPscrip evolved, it became clear very quickly that it was a groundbreaking technology - potentially a "game changer" for the online world. It wasn't long after that realization that we formed the TeleGrafix Communications corporation to take over the development of the technology for the betterment of the online world.

Formed in late 1992, TeleGrafix debuted the RIPscrip technology at the first ever online convention in Denver, CO (OneBBS Con 1.0). Founded by myself, Mark Hayton, Jim Bergman and Mara Ward, we didn't know how things were going to pan out. We didn't know if another company was going to have another technology that was vastly superior to our's, or if we had something that was truly unique.

When we showed up at the convention, a friend of our's had a booth at the convention showing off another graphical BBS technology that was based on the Macintosh platform (ResNova Software). They graciously donated an 8x8 section of their booth for us to show off what we had. They were incredibly good friends to ArenaBBS and the goals we were trying to achieve, so I have nothing but the highest praise for their vision in sharing their convention booth with us.

It was an interesting week. I was actively working on finishing up the dial-up terminal software for the convention in the basement of my dad's house in Evergreen, CO for two weeks before the show. The product's code just "flowed" out from my fingertips like magic. When my partners arrived the day before the show, things were ready to rock and roll for the show. When the convention show floor opened, RIPscrip got an intense amount of attention. I won't go into the details about the bug-fixes we were making right there in the booth as we discovered gltches during the convention.

As the convention unfolded, another company was promoting a graphical technology known as NAPLPS which was a free internationally approved (IEEE) standard that hadn't found much of a following except as the foundation for the graphical presentation of the now defunct Prodigy online service. It was particulary low-tech, with klunky graphics that eventually led to the downfall of the service (IMHO).

At the end of the convention, we had one company (GalactiComm) that was so enamoured with us, they offered to buy us out entirely and give all of us full-time jobs. My partners and I told them "No" right there on the spot. We had just invented something so mind blowing, the possibility of not pushing it forward on our own, without corporate interference, was unacceptable. We wanted to forge our own way in the world, and make the online world a better place without external corporate special interests interfering. Our champagne celebration on the balcony of our hotel room after that was much more than a vindication of our efforts - it was a testimony of how the "little guy", with a great idea can actually make something of themselves.

Over the next year, building up toward the next BBS convention, we formalized our TeleGrafix corporation and entered into strategic parternships with several consumer dial-up terminal software vendors, and the big BBS software vendors of the day. The biggest partnership was with GalactiComm, who embraced our technology with open arms. I spent several weeks working onsite at their headquarters to spearhead serious integration of our technology with their server systems. The endeavor proved incredibly successful. Within weeks, we were pumping out products for their server platform that generated lots of cash for TeleGrafix.

TeleGrafix was founded on a mere $10,000 investment from a founder's family member in late 1992. Within three months, she was paid off in-full and the company was already turning a profit. In the first fiscal year, TeleGrafix went from working out of my apartment, to having its own corporate offices (900 sq. ft), with six employees, and still netting over $20,000 a month in revenue a month! That doesn't happen very often with a startup.

When we showed up at the next annual BBS convention (OneBBS Con 2.0) at the Broadmoore Hotel in Colorado Springs, CO (Aug 1993), things had changed dramatically with the online indsutry. RIPscrip was the celebrity technology of the show. Compared to the previous year where only a single booth was debuting the technology, a full 70% of the 200 boothes at the new convention were showing off systems that used our graphical technology.

We felt like celebrities. Our strategic partnerships were paying off "in spades". Everybody we spoke with was ecstatic with what we had, and the line at our booth to purchase the next generation of our product line stretched down the convention booth isle. I praise my wife for efficiently handling all the purchases. It was a major job.

Our booth was something to behold. We didn't want to do things "like other people". We constructed our own booth on our own. We had a 20'x10' spot in a key location near the entrance of the convention entrance. We decided to do something "outlandish". We built a booth that was formed with black faux marble walls, a trellaced ceiling, shiny black cabinets, a nifty computer display pillar to show-off the next-generation RIP-2 technology, and projector wall (that is standard now-a-days), and tons of chairs for presentations. Our apartment landlord didn't appreciate our using the parking lot for construction of the booth frame for a couple days. I can only hope that whent we left the booth material behind after we moved out, she was able to reap some kind of profit.

The booth was awesome. Nobody else had a booth that could rival our's from a visual perspective. Unfortunately, the goal we set for our booth was only matched by how long it took to set it up. Unlike our neighbors, who were able to setup their boothes in 4-6 hours, our's took some 18 hours to setup. Luckily, friends from parter companies chose to help us out after they were done with their boothes. That was a favor I won't soon forget. It didn't help that the company that crated-up our booth for shipment botched the job. Wall components, trellace pipe segments, and various connectors weren't properly labeled. That made the booth setup go from about 6 hours to nearly 18 as "trial and error" assembly became necessary. During construction, a delivery of Popeye's Chicken caused me to break a tooth, which made me look like a "toothless hick" for the duration of the convention. It's always something.

Before we traveled to the convention site, we got a phone call from a manager of the "Dvorak/Zoom Award" adminstrative body. We were told that TeleGrafix was nominated for the "Dvorak/Zoom" award for Technical Excellence. We told them we wouldn't be attending the award ceremony - that there was no point, as we didn't feel worthy of such an award. The representative told us, "You need to be there."

At the awards ceremony, we got called up to the podium to receive the 1993 Dvorak/Zoom Award for technical excellence for the creation of our graphical online technology. To us, John Dvorak was a God. At the time, he was in the same league as Peter Norton who invented Norton Utilities (now Symantec) which was probably one of the most important software products for DOS-based systems in the early 1990's.

In his speach before presenting the award, he told the audience that our RIPscrip technology caught on like a brushfire that he hadn't experienced since the invention of the PK-ZIP file compression technology. To say we were deeply humble and in abject disbelief was an understatement.

The person who won the Dvorak award immediately before us was John Hayes, the inventor of the modem. He won a Lifetime Achievement award for his invention. To say that we were humbled beyond words would be an overstatement. We never believed that our invention of RIPscrip would garner such a following, let alone massive international recognition. Needless to say, we had no acceptance speech prepared.

We planned to hold a Hospitality Party for all our supporters. Our primary strategic parterns (DeltaComm [Telix], and GalactiComm [The MajorBBS]) co-sponsored the party with us. These two companies were our most important strategic partners, and we shared a lot of common interests (both business and non-business), with a shared afinity for Monty Python being the biggest. The party was probably one of the most enjoyable moments in my life. We relished in our achievements, and the table the key players shared, with tons of pitchers of beer, and the unending spouting of Monty Python quotes, were something that I'll never forget.

It didn't help that the neighboring Zoom Modem hospitality party ran out of beer, and their people came over to our party to grab mugs off our keg. We quickly ran out of beer, and there were no more kegs available in the hotel. Party crashers suck!

A month later, after OneBBS Con 2.0 completed, TeleGrafix was awarded a commendation from the city of Diamond Bar, CA for our participation in creating a graphical interface to provide their public city records to the population through graphical point-and-click interfaces using kiosks throughout public city facilities. We donated our client software to the city's population so they could access the same records from the privacy of their homes. In the end, public city records were available to the population through a variety of easily accessible sites.

During our attendance at OneBBS Con 2.0, we held roundtable sessions with customers to obtain feature requests for the upcoming RIPscrip 2.0 technology. Like any "feature request sessions", the public asked for the kitchen sink to be added.

This is where TeleGrafix faltered. We attempted to add all the features the customers demanded. It wasn't a simple matter of easy feature requests. They requested high-end user interface concepts like window-based interfaces, major audio technologies, and a whole laundry list of additional features. We spent the next 18 months trying to address these requests.

During that time, the World Wide Web emerged. All of a sudden, our graphical technology became something of a non-sequitor. Nearly every manager of tech companies demanded that all future engineering efforts revolve around web-based interfaces - even if it was too soon to cross that bridge. The marketing hype of the World Wide Web was so intense then, our business model literally evaporated under our feet in a single quarter. We went from being majorly profitable, to posting serious financial losses within 90 days! It was like God reached down and turned off the "money spigot".

Soon after, we had to start laying off friends and family that had formed the backbone of our company. It was extremely painful. Very quickly, the executives (myself included) had to forgo salaries. All of a sudden, any potential contract or accounting receivable became of paramount importance.

Luckily, we managed to land a major contract right about then. We finalized a contract through a representative of the government of Japan to modify our software technology to support Japanese languages for the purpose of enhancing Japan's largest online system for a graphical user experience. Until then, the system in question was text-based, and shedding users at a fast pace. The Japanese system was the size of CompuServe, with millions of users. It also embodied their national news service, so it was a huge boon to TeleGrafix. It was an opportunity we couldn't pass on.

After nine months of negotiations and due dilligence, we finalized the contract. You have no idea how tough business negotiations can be until you've spent nine months haggling with Japanese businessmen. They will quibble about the smallest of details for days, trying to gain a millimeter of ground in the negotiations. In the end, after the contract was finalized, we found out from the US State Department that our company was the first American software company to ever get venture capital out of the government of Japan. Apparently they realized it was cheaper for them to pay us for the job then to re-invent the technology! That doesn't happen too often.

We made the investment from this project last for a couple years. But as the World Wide Web gained a head of steam that nobody expected, our market vanished very fast. We tried to re-tool our RIPscrip technology for an Internet-centric world by developing a graphical Netscape plug-in (think Flash about ten years ago). Unfortunately, that didn't go very far. At the time, Netscape was the only real web browser available to the public. By the time we finished our plugin, Microsoft introduced Internet Exploer, starting the "browser wars" of the late 1990's. Macromedia paid huge prices to both Microsoft and Netscape to bundle their Flash plug-in with their browsers to gain serious marketshare. We couldn't compete with that. Rumor had it that Macromedia paid Microsoft something like 10 million dollars to bundle their plug-in with the new Internet Exploer. Being a struggling small company, we had nothing to do but re-think our business model.

Back then, interfacing large-scale corporate databases to the web required a "spit and bailing wire" approach to web interfacing. Making a large-scale system work on a wide-scale web interface was extremely difficult, and was fraught with numerous pitfalls, interface problems, and network connectivity dilemmas. We thought that using the well established Telnet Internet protocol would be a great way of allowing companies to easily serve up their corporate data to the masses through a graphical interface (ala Windows) with minimal modifications to their back-end server systems. It had the advantage of being a service they already provided, with the data they wanted to share with their exising customers not requiring much additional effort. We created the RIPtel product to further this business model. It turned out to be an awesome Telnet client, with a lot of features that would be useful to the consumer... So we thought.

What we didn't plan on was that the World Wide Web would gain even more momentum. It seemed that all IT/MIS managers wouldn't even consider a Telnet solution under any terms. All they wanted was something that had WWW tacked onto the front of the business proposal. Our business withered at a furious rate at this point.

In 1998, TeleGrafix luckily landed a contract with a company in Australia that had the nationwide rights to all real estate property boundary data for online use. Their contract with the government granted them the exclusive rights to use property data solely in the online world. Until then, real estate offices in the country had to rely on paper reports, or other such resources. The company we forged a contract with wanted to use our technology to allow real estate professionals, and consumers to view property information online using our graphical technology. This allowed them to show customers propery boundaries, topological maps, and other important information online in a user-friendly way that wasn't available through the traditional brick & mortar real estate offices.

TeleGrafix licensed its software to their Australian partners for over two years. The Netscape RIPscrip plug-in was extremely important to this business model, and helped keep the company alive for a couple more years.

From about 1998, the BBS industry was in shambles. The few companies that still maintained their BBS server products were dying quickly. Many of them were looking for companies to purchase, or outright take-over the responsibilities for their products to get out from under their long-term responsibilities. TeleGrafix purchased, or took over long-term licensing arrangements with a number of these companies.

Most notably, Searchlight Software sold their product line to TeleGrafix in 1998. They turned over their Searchlight BBS and Spinnaker Web Server system to TeleGrafix. The Searchlight BBS was a very popular BBS server platform throughout the 1990's with its intuitive interface and user following. Their Spinnaker Web Server system was probably before it's time. Spinnaker was a database-centric web server with inline scripting that was years ahead of it's time. Today, web server systems with PHP, ASP or ASP.Net are commonplace. Back in 1998, Spinnaker pioneered the same concepts long before these features were readily available. Unfortunately, the server system didn't catch on for reasons that will probably be up to historians.

In 1999, TeleGrafix acquired the assets of the ProBoard BBS system. This was a BBS server system that had more of a cult following than the more commercial systems. It had a pretty solid following in Europe, but in the United States, it wasn't used much.

In 2000, TeleGrafix began to face the inevitable. The BBS market was utterly dead - superceded by the World Wide Web and the global reach that it offered. Nobody was interested in BBS technology, or terminal emulation technology. In May 2000, I left the company to find another career. It was a painful decision that was years in the making. To quote Danny DeVito in the movie "Other People's Money", "The surest way of growing broke is to get an-ever increasing share of a shrinking market."

TeleGrafix certainly embraced that approach. We held on long after the writing was on the wall in the latter 1990's. We snatched up the assets of BBS companies that simply "wanted out" of the business. We developed technologies that ultimately proved untenable. We laid off friends and family to keep the doors open. We even paid corporate bills off of our personal assets to keep things alive.

The ultimate demise of TeleGrafix was an utterly bitter experience from my perspective. Being the founder of the company, and one of the very last people left keeping the doors open, I narrowly avoided personal financial ruin before I got out. I was so utterly in denial about the inevitable failure of the company, that I held on to my dying breath.

I can just hope that others with similar aspirations don't face the same impossible choices we had to face, and that they have the sense to get out before it's too late.

I must say, my partners who created TeleGrafix back in 1992 (Jim Bergman and Mark Hayton) had the sense to get out while they could keep their hides intact. My wife rode the roller coaster all the way to the end, and I'll love her forever for that.



     
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