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A HISTORY OF COMPUTER COMMUNICATIONS: 1968 -1988

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George Grumbles

George Grumbles

George Grumbles first moved to Huntsville AL in 1962 when he was 29 years old, had completed his education and was married. His introduction to the fast moving world of electronics began when he found a job working as a manufacturing representative. In 1968 he moved to the Boston area when offered the position of Vice-President of Marketing and Sales of Control Logic, a company building digital controls. After five years, a friend told him about an opening with Universal Data Systems (UDS). Knowing some of the people involved with UDS and wanting to move back to Huntsville, it was an easy decision. So in 1972, he accepted the position of Vice-President of Marketing and Sales of UDS reporting to Mark Smith the President and founder (See Mark Smith Interview).

For readers interested in the first decades of the dial-up modem market, this Interview gives a great overview; of the evolution from over 100 companies, and maybe as many as 160 companies, to a handful of companies led by UDS and Vadic; all combining to create a market thought to be as large as $500M. It will become clearer in the reading of the five Interviews of the key individuals within UDS and Vadic, how those two companies became dominant and also different from each other; for example, they both started out as OEM companies, yet they chose to focus on different “niche” markets, such as Vadic’s on timesharing, versus UDS’s on “point of sale.” One of the most significant events in the market evolution was the innovation of the 1200 bps modem. Vadic gained the early market leadership with their VA3400, only to let a design “oversight” give AT&T an opening with their Bell-212 or UDS with their 1212. Not wanting to concede a technological advantage to UDS, Vadic sued UDS for patent infringement. Vadic lost the suit but for reasons unrelated to the technology, effectively giving UDS the claim they sought, i.e. that they were as innovative as Vadic or AT&T. In December 1980, UDS sold themselves to Motorola for reasons almost identical to Vadic’s sale to Racal two years earlier. When Mark Smith retired in 1986, Grumbles became President of UDS and Vice-President of Motorola.

The reader will also find network interactions between the dial-up sector of the modem market and the leased-lined sector through the actions of Vadic and UDS to win an OEM contract with Codex.

Keywords: UDS, Vadic, Codex, semiconductors, IPO markets, Motorola, Racal

George Grumbles Interviewed by James Pelkey 11/28/88