I was involved with Practical Peripherals from its inception in 1982, through its sale to Hayes Microcomputer Products in 1989, and until I left one afternoon in June 1993. After that day, I never closely followed what was going on at the company. I don't even know when the company ceased to be a company. 25 years later I felt that it should have some presence on the Internet. So, an afternoon or two, a copy of Dreamweaver, and some Iced Tea, Practical Peripherals has its place on the Web.
I started Practical Peripherals in 1982. It was started to sell a product that solved a specific problem I was experiencing. Printing reports, picking slips, packing slips, invoices, and shipping labels for a mail order company I had started a couple of years earlier was just taking too long. The printer was just too slow, and every time my printer needed to print a line, the computer would stop computing to focus on the printer's needs. A line at a time was all the printer could handle, and while it was busily printing that line, the computer had nothing to do except ask "Can I send you a character", to which the printer would answer "No, not now, I'm busy". The computer would wait for the printer to finish printing it's line before it could get back to computing important things - like the next invoice line, or an address label. Printing was taking way, way too long. There had to be a better way. The world needed a new practical peripheral - a Microbuffer.
With the help of a couple very bright engineers, we designed a line of printer buffers. We started with an Apple II compatible interface card (the Microbuffer II and IIs for parallel and serial), moved on to an add-in buffer card for Epson MX series printer (the MBP and MBS), and then a stand-alone printer buffer (the MBIP and MBIS). As time went on, we built other peripherals for the microcomputer world. Add-in cards for the Apple II (the Printerface and Seriall) and IBM-PC computers (the MEM256K, MEM512K, and multifunction interface cards), but most of all, we built a line of modems - the Practical Modems. We started with a Practical Modem 1200 and went on to build internal and external versions of 2400bps, 9600bps modems. After I left, the modem designs continued. They continued their Practical Modem line with their 14,400bps, 28,800bps, 33,600bps, and presumably their 56,000bps modems.
The business grew from a startup to a business doing well over $30M/year - actually more as I understand it. We started with two people - Myself and a brilliant engineer named Michael Githens. By the time I left, we had a sales department, a marketing department, and engineering department, an accounting department, a manufacturing department, a purchasing department, and a human resources department watching over the 600 plus employees in a beautiful 70,000 square foot building in Thousand Oaks, California.
Here's some of the stories, ads, product pictures, facility pictures, and editorial I've collected and wanted to share.