A Brief Technical History of Dale
Posted by Dale Heatherington
Dec 23rd 2007
Some of you are probably wondering who this "Dale" dude is and why he feels compelled to publish a website. I hope to answer these and other questions on this page. Lets start at the beginning, shall we?
About 13 billion years ago, according to todays best cosmological theories, the universe was born. After some expansion, cooling and a lot of violent nuclear explosions, billions and billions of stars and planets formed. One of them, by processes not entirely understood, developed life forms which began to compete and evolve. Eventually, 4.5 billion years later, these evolutionary processes produced Dale in the year most humans refer to as “1948”. Ta-Da!
Dale spent his childhood living next door to his Dad’s machine shop in Orlando Florida. He watched Dad use machine tools from an early age. Dales uncle showed him how to build crystal radios at age 9. His grandfather who lived across the street showed him how to develop and print film at age 11. Dale liked technology a lot. During his youth he tried his hand at a number of projects including: Wind powered land vehicles, small rockets, acetylene/oxygen balloon “fireworks”, low powered AM radio station, flying spot scanner, low powered TV station, homemade stereo system, video tape recorder, automatic phone dialer, audio tape recorder, neighborhood wide intercom system, Tesla coil and others long forgotten.
Dale went to college at Florida Institute of Technology and survived exactly one semester before flunking out with a GPA around 0.25 or so. Oops. The parental units were not pleased. Their investigation concluded Dale had spent way to much time swapping out the 6 cylinder engine in his 57 Chevy with a 283 ci V8 and not enough studying. Next they sent Dale up to Marietta Georgia without his 57 Chevy to attend Southern Technical Institute. With no viable transportation or money Dale spent a lot of time in his dorm room actually studying his courses. At least that what his parents thought. In reality he was working on the student low power AM radio station (WSTB) transmitter and console, scavenging electronic parts from school trash, learning how to make master keys for Best locks and running an exclusive private dorm-room to dorm-room intercom system called “The Sponge Line”. In spite of these extracurricular activities Dale managed to maintain a C average and actually graduated from Southern Tech.
Dale did not return to Florida. He found a decent job fixing stereo receivers at Norman’s Electronics in Atlanta. At Norman’s he learned all the ways electronics can fail and customers can be irrational. During this time Dale bought a small cheap house near Decatur and rented space to several close friends he’d met while at Southern Tech. He continued his tinkering in the basement. After several years Dale got a job offer from National Data Corp. Dale designed custom electronic devices for them by day and by night was experimenting in the basement with a number of things including TV, ham radio, radar detectors, teletypes, modems and blue boxes. Then Dale met fellow NDC employee Dennis C. Hayes. Dale didn’t know it but everything was about to change.
Dale and Dennis pooled their funds and bought an IMSAI 8080 computer kit. After they got it working they designed a modem for it. While Dale was all about technology and electronics design, Dennis was much more business oriented. From this relationship was born D.C. Hayes Associates. Initially modem kits were packaged and shipped from Dennis Hayes house. A couple of assemblers were hired and fully assembled units were built on Dennis’ dinning room table. Dale would drop by after work at National Data and pick up modems to take home and test that night. Dale verified performance and fixed any problems. The modems were returned the next evening. From these humble beginnings grew the modem giant Hayes Microcomputer Products, best known for its Smartmodem product line. Check out Dale's Hayes photo album by clicking here and the Wikipedia article here.
Dale spent 7 years with Hayes. He designed the 80-103A, Micromodem-100, Micromodem-II for the Apple ][ and the Smartmodem 300 and 1200. In 1984 Dale decided his privately held Hayes stock was worth enough to retire and live well. Also competition was heating up and Dale was not sure what the future held for the company. A deal was structured so Dale was paid for his shares over the next 10 years. Hayes eventually went bankrupt in 1999 but not before paying Dale all he was owed.
So, what does a guy with lots or free time do? Buy an island and sip margaritas on his personal beach all day? No. Not Dale. He continues to tinker with technology in his personal lab and small machine shop. He lives near Roswell GA with his wife and cats.
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