View Full Version : Response to Erik's request of Oct. 25, 2003:

October 25th, 2003, 10:38 AM
I opened "The Data Domain" in Feb. 1976, with no more idea of what might happen than anyone else in those first eight or ten months of the explosion of technology. I rented 720 Sq. Ft. of space near the town square, signed up as dealers for Cromemco, Processor Technology, IMSAI, and every computer magazine and soruce of books of interest that we could find, stocked some Integrated Circuits and soon realized that I could use my previous 20 years of experience in the digital electrocnics industry to buy components and parts needed to expand some computers far cheaper than I could buy them from the kit manufacturers themselves. For example, IMSAI put a list priice of $25.00 on a cooling fan rated at 40 CFI. I bought 125 CFI fans for under $10.00 each and sold them for double my cost which was still a "discount" of more that ten percent from the "suggested list price." I did the same thing with the 100 pin edge connectors required to expand tthe IMSAI 8080 or Altair 8800. My cost was so low that I could sell them at about 25% less that the manufacturers (MITS and IMSAI) charged and still more than double my money. In fact, I found a ready market in other dealers, including several MITS dealers.
Nobody visited the store without walking out with at least a dozen or so magazines. We sold the current issue and one of each of the back issues of every magazine available. We sold tee-shirts and posters from Creative Computers, and even computer generated art works, framed or unframed. In short, we sold anything and everything remotelly related to the computers which were our principak wares, And we worked seven days a week, from seven AM until anything rom seven PM to midnight.
People came from far and wide. I mean that literally. Our customers came from as far away as Gua,m and Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Mexiico and every state in the union. I finally discovered why when I found out from a fouple of my best suppliers that I was a fairly unique computer store. I actually stocked inventory. There was no such thing as "Floor Planning" or an order against which one could schedule releases with net 30 payment. Everything was COD but in ordeer to get decent discounts we had to order fifteen or more of a given product at a time, with no scheduled or even promised delivery schedule, and when the order arrived it was COD! I well remember the day when UPS called me to tell me that they had a large COD order for me and would hold it for two days and then return it to the manufactrer. I asked them what it was and they told me it was my shipment of SOL-20 computer kits from Processor Technology. I asked how much money I needed, with visions of five or twn thousand dollars making my ulcers make me ill, and the man said: "54,000.00". You can imagine what the term "cash flow management" meant. It was an expression that generated many grins and laughs.
However er muct have been doing something reght because within a few short months we were the second or third Apple Computer dealer sleected, one of the first eight Alpha Microsystems dealers and were growing as fast as I could pour some more capital into the business. I could do nothing with the local banks, they simply would not talk to anyone so stupid that they thought that computers could be sold retail.
And so it went, for seven years and we slowly went broke as my capital ran out and I douldn't keep up with the industry growth. But we lasted longet that most of the early retailers and The Data Domain numbers some very successful alumni among it's former employees. I guess the two best known are Mike Swaine, co-auther of Fire In TheValley and of Dr. Dobbs Journal fame, and Thom Hogan who wrote the Osborne published "CP/M User Guide that was one of the gest selling technical books on the market duiing the late 70's. There were others of sessor fame and I'm proud to say that many of my former employhees still contact me now and then.
I don't know if other early computer stores were anything like mine, but I really doubt it because most of the ownere had far more business savy than I.

October 25th, 2003, 04:59 PM
Neato history tale there, o.d.m.! Makes me wish I were alive then to have visited your store.

Got any new magazine issues coming in? :lol: