Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Tide Turns


At Comdex 1993, 1394 won Byte Magazine’s “Best New Technology” Award for two demos shown by IBM, Adaptec, Western Digital, Apple, TI, and Maxtor.  Over the next two years, products entered the market and a new demo was brought to Comdex 1995.

Larry had just arrived in Las Vegas from Dallas.  The trade show was of secondary importance to Larry. He was in town to meet with leaders from the computer industry.  They were looking to select an industry standard high-speed interface and FireWire had the inside track.

A private meeting had been arranged in one of the side rooms in the Las Vegas Convention Center.  Compaq, DEC and Microsoft would be there to gather information.  TI, Sony, Apple and National Semiconductor were there to answer questions.

Open hostility was expressed by Compaq that a chip supplier was telling them how to design their products.  They were stuck with their low-speed interface but determined to control their destiny when it came to the high-speed interface.

Questions were direct.  “Does 1394 really work or is it still working the kinks out?”  After months of debugging legions of problems in USB, there was little tolerance for taking on another technology that was not ready for primetime.   

By the end of the meeting, the die had been cast and FireWire was in.

On the other side of the LVCC, the 1394TA was hosting a group demo in a remote breakout room.  Few people found the demo.  Among them were two young engineers from Dell Computer who were scoffing.  As they stood in the hallway, literally laughing, they said, “You need to forget 1394.  It is dead.  USB has won.  You will never see 1394 in a Dell Computer.” 

“Never” is a dangerous word.

FireWire Video from Comdex 1995


No comments:

Post a Comment