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A HISTORY OF COMPUTER COMMUNICATIONS: 1968 -1988

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Matt Kinney

Milgo was founded around 1955 by two men; Monroe Miller and Lloyd Gordon, hence Milgo. They moved from Long Branch, NJ to FL to be near NASA type activity doing all kinds of communications work before they developed commercial modems. Kinney describes the company as filled with “inventors, but not exploiters.” Then in the mid 60’s, they hired Sang Wang, a Korean engineer from Brooklyn Poly Tech who was “a genius in filter design.” He managed to put together filters that allowed them, for all practical purposes, to send three bits per baud; that made 4800 bit per second transmission possible on existing telephone lines. By the middle of 1967, Milgo had a superior 4800 bps modem ready to be sold into commercial markets. They now needed someone with commercial sales experience.

A search found Matt Kinney who quickly reached a decision. A reader of this Interview will soon understand why Kinney was a great hire. He joined Milgo on January 15, 1968. Counting Tom Carter as a friend, he was convinced that if the Common Carrier Bureau ruled favorably in the Carterfone case, then the commercial modem market was likely to take off. So in October, after the favorable Carterfone decision, Racal management spun off a subsidiary named the International Communications Corporation, or the ICC. Kinney, Ed Bleckner and about a dozen others were transferred into the ICC, and stock options were created for those challenged to make the commercial side a success. Although the ICC was best known as Milgo, it was marketed under the ICC name until February 1977 when Racal Electronics, in an effort to stave off a hostile take-over attempt by Applied Digital Data Systems (ADDS), ended the hostile action by acquiring Milgo for $62M on February 7, 1977. Racal would end the days of ICC in favor of the name Racal-Milgo.

Kinney gives a great overview of the Data Com industry in the years before the Carterfone decision. In addition, he argues the case of using manufacturers representatives; gives his theory as to why technology leadership keeps changing; the benefits of the Carterfone decision; and why Racal-Milgo never entered the LAN market and takes responsibility for missing the T-1 market. Kinney stayed clear of any relationship with Racal-Vadic. He also spoke highly of Bill Dambrackas for role in getting Racal-Milgo into the multiplexer market (See Dambrackas Interview).

Keywords: Milgo, Carterfone, Racal, International Communications Corporation (ICC)

Matt Kinney Interviewed by James Pelkey 3/9/88