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A HISTORY OF COMPUTER COMMUNICATIONS: 1968 -1988

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Bill Dambrackas

Bill Dambrackas

Bill Dambrackas was involved in four major companies in Data Communications: Ultronic Systems, Infotron, Milgo and Equinox. As an engineer, he designed microprocessor-based statistical multiplexers for both Infotron and Milgo. His product designs in other areas included data encryption and network processing, before he co-founded his own networking firm, Equinox. Dambrackas began his career attending a 2-year technical school, after which he joined RCA as a junior engineer. In 1969, he was hired by Ultronic Systems, a subsidiary of GTE, as a design engineer. Ultronic’s main product was a stock market quotation system and one of the last products Dambrackas designed for Ultronic was a Motorola 6800 processor-controlled terminal for the display of stock quotes.

In 1976 he was recruited away from Ultronic to join Infotron, where he was tasked with developing the company’s first microprocessor-controlled statistical multiplexer. Infotron introduced this statmux in early 1977. After the market for statmuxes was upended by Micom’s highly successful low-end Micro800 Data Concentrator introduced in January of ’78, Infotron responded with their own low-priced statmux in January of ‘79. Even though the Supermux SM480 sold for less and had more features than Micom’s statmux, Infotron was unsuccessful in capturing much of Micom’s market share, due in large measure to their choice of distribution channels; Micom had been extremely successful in selling through distributors, whereas Infotron chose to keep selling through sales reps.

In June of ’79 Dambrackas was offered a position at Milgo to do just what he had done at Infotron – design a series of microprocessor-based statistical multiplexers. He made the move, knowing that Milgo was an industry leader in data communications and because he had always liked Florida. At Milgo, Dambrackas designed their Omnimux line of statmuxes to compete with Timeplex (on the high-end) and Micom (on the low-end). While at Milgo, he also designed data encryption and network management products.

In March of ’83, Dambrackas closed financing for his own company, Equinox, which he co-founded with Mark Cole, also from Milgo. In December 1983, Equinox introduced their DSS-1, a data PBX switching system capable of interconnecting 1,320 terminals and computer ports. Success came rapidly. In 1985, a financing led by Oak Investment Partners and DEC secured $3 million with a company valuation of $30 million. Equinox would be buffeted by market conditions and competition but would eventually become a public company in 1993. At the time of this interview the data PBX market was flattening out, but Dambrackas had been successful in duplicating Micom’s strategy of using distributors to sell a simple, low-end box product that anyone could install, doing in the data PBX market what Micom had done so successfully with in the statmux market.

Keywords: Ultronic Systems; Infotron; Milgo; Equinox; Statistical multiplexer; Micro800 Data Concentrator; Supermux SM480; Omnimux; Timeplex; Micom

Bill Dambrackas Interviewed by James Pelkey 3/9/88