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A HISTORY OF COMPUTER COMMUNICATIONS: 1968 -1988

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Bob Dolan

I met Bob Dolan in the fall of 1980. At the time, he was President of ComDesign, an early statistical multiplexer company that he founded in 1977. Prior to starting ComDesign, Bob had worked at Advanced Computer Communication (ACC). Bob had been involved with the University of California at Santa Barbara from the years 1974-1976, when as an employee of Speech Communications Research Laboratory, he was helping build the PDP interface for their Arpanet site. It was at that time that he met Rowland Bryant, who subsequently founded ACC, a DARPA subcontractor and the home of a number of start-ups in the Santa Barbara area, including ComDesign, Computer Machinery Corporation (CMC) and Digital Sound Corporation (DSC). Rowland, Bob, Larry Green (CMC), Jim McGill (DSC), and others met casually in a social network similar to those of Silicon Valley, Boston, Dallas and Los Angeles. When Bob started ComDesign, he intended to enter the local area networking business. But on seeing the opportunities in statistical multiplexing, and the success of Micom, he changed strategies and developed a series of statistical multiplexer products. His company tried to mimic Micom and recruited a number of people out of that company. In August 1986, Bob merged his company into Network Equipment Technologies, a leading T-1 multiplexer company.

When I decided to write a history of Computer Communications, I called Bob to ask him if he would sit for in interview. He readily agreed and recommended that I also interview Ken Krechmer. That interview was extremely valuable in aiding my understanding of the early dial-up modem business and identifying an initial list of people I should interview. While I had to eventually delete most of that history out of the final manuscript, it remains a very interesting history of the rise of the early competition for AT&T.

Keywords: UC Santa Barbara, Speech Communications Research Laboratory, Arpanet, Network Equipment Technologies

Bob Dolan Interviewed by James Pelkey 1/6/88