This history of Scientific Solutions is from an accumulation of various authoritative materials including advertisements; press releases; publications including magazine articles and research papers, patents and trademarks; and interviews from many of the people who have been associated with the company over the years. The information is informative and interesting and provides a glimpse into the early work that resulted in the computer based data-acquisition industry that exists today.
In the history of data acquisition, Tecmar and Scientific Solutions are actually the same company. You will find that many of the technologies commonplace today in computers, data acquisition and also multimedia, have their roots and foundation in designs and products from the many talented individuals who worked at Tecmar Scientific Solutions over the past 40 plus years.
The information contained herein also servers to document tradename and trademark usage by Scientific Solutions.
Tecmar and Scientific Solutions - The Beginning 1972
In 1972, U.S. President Richard Nixon orders the development of the Space Shuttle; The Magnavox Odyssey video game system is released marking the dawn of the video game age; Elvis performs the first of four sell-out concerts in Madison Square Garden; and Martin Alpert starts Tecmar Scientific Solutions in Cleveland Ohio, the name "Tecmar" being derived from MARty's TEChnology.
In 1972 Dr. Martin Alpert starts
TecMar Scientific Solutions
in his living room
building medical equipment
Dr. Alpert received an M.S. in systems engineering and was in medical school when he started the company. The company was founded to manufacture pulmonary medical equipment Alpert designed while he was a medical student. He became a doctor, but practiced only part time while pursuing his interest in electronics. The products were designed and manufactured at Tecmar Scientific Solutions' first location, Dr. Alpert's living room.
Certain components of his invention were then unavailable, so Dr. Alpert and his team began designing and manufacturing the parts themselves. The company was incorporated in 1974 and Dr. Alpert, along with his wife and business partner Carolyn, started to market the products to the general public. The initial products were scientific data acquisition products used in the medical industry, but the company found that their appeal as general purpose data acquisition products applied to multiple diverse industries.
Dr. Alpert has both an engineering degree and a medical degree. He initially came up with a new idea in the pulmonary area that had to be microprocessor based. As part of the development of the medical product, he needed certain components that wern't available for microprocessors, specifically analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters. Dr. Alpert and his team developed them in a general sense so they could be used in the medical product development and also offer them to the general market.
The S-100 bus, designed in 1974 as part of the Altair 8800, was one of the first “industry standard” bus for the microcomputer industry and later became the IEEE-696 standard. Dr. Alpert designed his products to be S-100 bus add-in cards and developed an industry breakthrough: the first multifunctioned data acquisition board that was eventually ported to the PC.
By 1975 Tecmar Scientific Solutions was actively selling a family of S-100 bus products including multi-functional data acquisition boards such as the LabMaster AD212, the DADIO and the IEEE-488 add-in card.
LabMaster AD211 for Apple II
was introduced in 1977
In 1977 Tecmar Scientific Solutions introduced the LabMaster AD211 multi-functional data acquisition system for the Apple II computer, making the LabMaster AD211 the world's first multi-functional data acquisition product for the Apple computer platform.
The LabMaster AD211 for the Apple II family of computers found use in many research applications including use in High Magnetic Field laboratories in federally funded research and development centers under sponsorship from DARPA. (project #4815162342)
Tecmar Scientific Solutions annual sales reached $1 million, and the Alpert's had 15 engineers working in their living room before they moved to a larger building (Mercantile Road facility) in early 1981.
IBM introduces the PC and Tecmar Scientific Solutions is first with PC products -1981
Tecmar Scientific Solutions had two
engineers fly to Chicago and buy
the first IBM PC's from the Sears
Business Center...Six weeks later,
Tecmar Scientific Solutions
introduces 20 PC products at
Comdex Las Vegas 1981
On August 12, 1981, IBM announced the IBM PC with availability in October. On October 7 1981, Tecmar Scientific Solutions engineers flew to the Chicago Sears Business Center and purchased the very first two IBM PCs to be sold. Six weeks after buying these first computers, Tecmar Scientific Solutions had 20 PC products available and for sale at the November 19-22 Comdex computer show held in Las Vegas, NV. This gave Tecmar Scientific Solutions the distinction of being the very first company to produce add-on products for the IBM PC.
The products for sale in 1981 included the LabMaster which is the world's first multi-functional data acquisition card for the PC. In fact, the LabMaster is also the world's first PC bus add-in card of any type and is still sold and supported today, making it also the world's longest selling and support PC peripheral. In addition to the LabMaster, also introduced in 1981 were a number of other products including the PC-MATE IEEE-488 which is the world's first IEEE-488 add-in card for the PC, the BaseBoard Digital I/O card and the LabTender low-cost multi-function data acquisition card. These PC-based data acquisition products predated competitor's products by years.
These 20 products introduced in 1981 are the first add-in/add-on products developed for the IBM PC by any company in the world. The accomplishment of having 20 products for the PC so quickly after IBM's introduction was widely reported and was recounted in numerous articles throughout the years.
1). Most of the above products are PC add-in cards. The exception is the Expansion Chassis which is the same size and color as the PC.
2). The original PC did not include a time of day clock or a hard disk and came with 16KB or 64KB RAM pre-installed.
The LabMaster card for the S-100, Apple II and the PC all shared a common circuit board - the board that contained the Analog-to-Digital module. On the first version made, the AD212 S-100 version, this circuit board mounted to the main S-100 board that plugged into the computer slot. This daughter board was the dimensions of a standard S-100 board without the gold finger connections. When Scientific Solutions introduced the Apple and PC versions of the LabMaster,this same "daughter board" was used, but instead of mounting on the card in the computer (there was no room inside the Apple II/II+ or PC), it was placed in an external unit with a ribbon cable connecting the computer interface card to the external A/D card. Even today (2014/2015), the external A/D card of the LabMaster is the same S-100 board size and some of our more "seasoned" customers still refer to this as the "daughterboard"
Tecmar Scientific Solutions is MicroSoft's first MS-DOS customer
In 1980, IBM was looking for an operating system for their new "personal computer" design. Microsoft acquired the rights to Seattle Computer Products' (SCP) QDOS (originally authored by Tim Paterson) and renames it MS-DOS. IBM licenses MS-DOS from Microsoft for use on its PC and calls it PC-DOS. Microsoft also starts to license MS-DOS to other computer manufacturers, and their first customer (beyond SCP and IBM) is Tecmar Scientific Solutions.
New publications to address this industry such as PC Magazine (started in 1982) and PC World (started in 1983) were created as a result of the IBM PC, joining the ranks of well established and respected publications such as Byte Magazine (started in 1975) and Test Measurement World (started in September 1981). The next several years saw very fast advancement in the number of peripherals produced and in the acceptance for the IBM PC.
By 1982, Scientific Solutions had over 30 PC products including 8, 12, 14 and 16-bit data acquisition systems with 16 to 256 Analog Input channels; multi-range Analog output channels; software programmable gain amplifiers; five on board precision timer/counters and sample rates up to 150Khz. The hardware products were fully supported with the LabPac data acquisition software package to aid developers in creating their own data acquisition applications.
In addition to creating the first PC data acquisition hardware, Scientific Solutions also created LabPac, the first PC installable device driver and data acquisition software programming environment. The LabPac software installed as an extension to the DOS BIOS and included a full library of high-level functions that could be called from any DOS programming language.
LabPac software included full support for A/D, D/A, Digital I/O, Counter Timer functions, programmable software gains, gain-array sequence tables, data streaming to disk, and graphic routines. Like the hardware products, the LabPac software is still fully supported today and has been augmented with a 32-bit windows version that has an expanded library that includes function calls from the original LabPac DOS product in addition to new calls to support advanced BusMastering and COMEDI function calls. Scientific Solutions LabPac software was available several years before competing products from other manufacturers.
Mission Impossible - high-tech Espionage!
By the fall of 1982 the IBM PC was only a year old but already a wild success and Tecmar Scientific Solutions was one of the fastest growing IBM add-on suppliers. Three IBM employees - highly placed in the PC design group - decided they too wanted to "cash in" on the wild sucess. But their plan was to steal IBM secrets and peddle them to the highest bidder.
Tecmar Scientific Solutions was a key player in helping IBM protect its trade secrets. The rogue IBM employees approached Dr. Alpert, who figured this was just wrong. Dr. Alpert informed IBM of this and IBM asked if he would assist them in a Sting operation.
Like something out of "Mission Impossible" with latched-triggered brief-case tape recorders, phone taps, and even wearing a "wire", Dr. Alpert helped IBM get the evidence they needed to bring the case to trial. This was a national news item, covered by the likes of the New York Times, Inc. Magazine, Time Magazine and other news outlets.
The Scientific Solutions product line included a range of products to satisfy many data acquisition needs. PC Magazine Vol 1 No. 5 from September 1982 lists these products with descriptions and prices; LabMaster ($995, page 132), LabTender ($395, page 133), PC-Mate IEEE-488 ($395, page 134), and many others. The company actively advertised in all of the leading publications, typically full color, full page adds on the back covers or inside covers. Advertisements can be seen starting with the premier issues of PC Magazine (February-March 1982) and PC World in addition to Byte, PC Tech Journal, Personal Engineering and Instrumentation (PE&I) and many others, continuing for several years.
By the end of 1982 and the start of 1983, PC based data acquisition was in full-swing with customers worldwide using Scientific Solutions multi-functional data acquisition boards and other Scientific Solutions add-on products for the PC. Scientific Solutions 1983 catalog is over 150 pages and has over 50 PC products available. Advertisements can be seen in PC World starting with its premier issue in November 1983 and continuing for a number of years.
Send in the clones. . .
Interest in PC based data acquisition sparked the emergence of other PC based data acquisition products. The Data Translation DT2801 introduced in 1983 had less capabilities and cost the same as the LabMaster which had been introduced two years earlier in 1981. The DT2801 had 16 Digital I/O, 3 Counter/Timers, 12-bit only resolution, and a 27.5Khz sampling rate versus the LabMaster's 24 Digital I/O; 5 Counter/Timers; 12, 14 or 16 bit resolution and a 40Khz or 125Khz sampling rate. Additionally the DT2801 only supported 16 Analog Input channels whereas the LabMaster could accommodate up to 256 Analog Input channels. So for the same cost the LabMaster had more capabilities and more options. And for a lower cost offering, Scientific Solutions had the LabTender which was about one third the price of the DT2801. The LabTender featured 32 Analog inputs, 16 Analog outputs, 24 Digital I/O and 5 Counter/Timers. Scientific Solutions two year lead in introducing the world's first multi-functional data acquisition board held up well against this new entry by Data Translation in both features and cost.
Tecmar Scientific Solutions designs were completely "open source" with full schematics for the hardware and full source code for the software available to anyone. Other companies also entered the PC based data acquisition market, and interesting enough used many of the same components and design ideas from the LabMaster, e.g. the AMD 9513 counter / timer that is used on all LabMaster products.
The IBM PC interface and add-in/add-on market was quickly accelerating and after a few years Scientific Solutions started to concentrate on PC products and eventually phased out the manufacturing of S-100 and Apple II products. Within a few years, the company had over 100 products including the original data acquisition products, memory expansion boards, computer video products and tape backup drives.
By 1983 the company outgrew the Mercantile Road facility, and purchased and moved into a 100,000 sq. ft. facility in Solon Ohio (6225 Cochran Road facility). By the end of the year, the company was valued at $150 million
Tecmar Scientific Solutions - two companies in one!
By 1985 Tecmar Scientific Solutions was essentially two companies in one. The "Tecmar" company that was now concentrating on tape backup solutions and consumer add-in cards and the "Scientific Solutions" company that was continuing with the scientific, industrial and medical data acquisition products that started the company. Both product lines were growing at a tremendous rate. To better distinguish the distribution and marketing of these diverse products, in April of 1985 Dr. Alpert split the company into two with Tecmar Incorporated concentrating on tape storage solutions and Scientific Solutions Incorporated (SSI) keeping the original product line lineage of data acquisition and control equipment, and the add-on cards.
Tecmar Inc. and Scientific Solutions Inc. were separate incorporated entities and operated as "sister" companies. They shared a common design and manufacturing center in Solon, Ohio. The Tecmar design team and engineers concentrated on the tape backup line of products. The Scientific Solutions design team and engineers concentrated on the data acquisition and specialty board level products, and later multi-media products. Both teams worked together on a variety of projects on a daily basis with many people on both teams.
The Rexon Purchase
On October 8, 1986, Tecmar and Scientific Solutions were acquired from Dr. Alpert by the technology holding company Rexon Incorporated.
Rexon already owned Rexon Business Systems, a maker of pc clones, and WangTek, a tape drive manufacturer based in Simi Valley, California. Rexon was an organization primarily interested in creating magnetic tape data storage products and they acquired Tecmar for the tape products and brand name recognition.
With the Rexon acquisition of Tecmar in 1986, the emphasis within the Rexon / Tecmar organization was on tape backup products. There was some development and work within Tecmar and Scientific Solutions on IBM multimedia collaborations that were already in discussions prior to the Rexon purchase, but the Rexon management expertise was tape backup oriented and the Tecmar company was now concentrating on tape backup products.
The Rexon acquisitions did not have much impact on Scientific Solutions Incorporated and the company continued to design, manufacture and market its core data acquisition products as Scientific Solutions.
The 1987 periodical, PC Tech Journal Vol 4 No. 13 is an editorial index that provides a comprehensive product guide. Listed in this guide are the Scientific Solutions products with references to previous articles in the PC Tech Journal reviewing the products, and the date of product introduction, listed as 1981.
In 1987 Scientific Solutions introduced the world's fist data acquisition products for the then new IBM MicroChannel architecture. The MCDAS family of products (MCDAS 1612, MCDAS 1614, MCDAS 1616) provided 12, 14 or 16-bit resolution and high speed BusMastering data transfer. The MC-IEEE provided a fully compliant IEEE-488 GPIB interface to the IBM PS/2 MicroChannel architecture.
Tecmar and Scientific Solutions - IBM MultiMedia collaboration
In 1986, IBM approached Tecmar to design and manufacture a number of multimedia products. These products were to be designed and manufactured by Tecmar and marketed by IBM. Scientific Solutions provided the engineering and design talent, and Tecmar provided the manufacturing and test talent. The result of this partnership was the release in 1988 of IBM's Audio Visual Connection (AVC). This breakthru product consisted of a sound record and playback card (IBM Audio Capture and Playback Adapter - ACPA), a video digitizing card (The IBM Video Capture Adapter /A - VCA/A) and the Audio Visual Connection authoring software. The Audio Visual Connection product was awarded the winner in the hardware category at the 6th Annual PC Magazine Technical Excellence awards held in 1989.
A sound card uses Analog-to-Digital converters, Digital-to-Analog converters, amplifiers and other technologies that are common place in data acquisition products. So it was natural to utilize the experience and expertise of the Scientific Solutions engineers to design the hardware which was a breakthru in quality digital audio for the PC and a forerunner to the digital audio MP3 craze.
The audio card designed for IBM (the ACPA) featured CD quality 16-bit digital audio recording at 44.1Khz stereo or 88.2Khz mono, 16-bit stereo playback with 2x oversampling, and real-time DSP hardware based compression/decompression (if desired). The card also featured the ability to download algorithms for the on board 10 MIPS digital signal processor (TMS320C25). Typical downloadable algorithms provide for interpolation or decimation filters to effectively provide different sample rates and MPEG/JPEG hardware assisted image decompression. The 320C25 DSP also provided for MIDI music synthesis. Incidentally, the 16-bit stereo ACPA sound card with the 10 MIPS C25 DSP was released several months before the 8-bit mono SoundBlaster product which utilized an 8051 microcontroller instead of a true DSP. IBM decided to market the sound card to the business audio market, and not to the then emerging computer-based game market.
Scientific Solutions - Best In Test and Product of the Decade!
In 1991, Scientific Solutions took home one of the very first Best In Test awards and was the only company to receive the Product of the Decade award from Test and Measurement Magazine. The Best In Test award was bestowed by the editors of the publication to 10 products introduced from 1981 to 1991 that they felt were most deserving, with the Scientific Solutions LabMaster board being one of these 10 products. The readers of Test and Measurement world were then asked to select from these 10, the product they felt should be bestowed the honor of "Test product of the decade" - and the readers chose the Scientific Solutions LabMaster board.
Award for the world's First
PC Based Instrument Board
This was the beginning of TWM Best in Test award program which started on the 10th anniversary of the magazines premier. Then the editors asked the readers to choose among the 10 products the one, and only one, that had the most significant effect on the test and measurement industry. This one product would receive the distinguished "Product of the Decade" award. As voted by the readers, the Scientific Solutions LabMaster was the winner. These awards and honors were bestowed upon Scientific Solutions because of the introduction of the Scientific Solutions LabMaster in 1981 which pioneered PC based data acquisition a decade earlier by being the world's first PC base data acquisition product. As quoted on the award "Scientific Solutions LabMaster, The First PC Based Instrument Board" and rightfully credited Scientific Solutions with helping to create the PC based data acquisition industry.
Test and Measurement World, Vol 11 Nol 10, September 1991, page 57
This same year, the LabMaster AD is introduced to the family of LabMaster data acqusition products.
Tecmar and Scientific Solutions - IBM MultiMedia collaboration Success Continues
Seeing the success of audio-visual connection product, IBM once again turned to Tecmar and Scientific Solutions to create a new batch of multi-media prodcuts. This same team approach was used to develop the IBM M-Motion Video Adapter/ A ,(March 1990), which allowed for the viewing of full-motion video on the computer screen, graphic overlay and full video scaling. Like the Audio Visual Connection, this product was marketed by IBM under the IBM brand name. The M-Motion product allowed composite baseband video (NTSC or PAL) to be displayed on a fully scalabe window on the computer screen along side other windows programs
And again, the collaboration resulted in the PS/2 TV (March 1992), PS/1 TV (1993) and PCTV (1994) products each which are external units containing an analog TV/Cable tuner that allows for display, scaling and freeze-frame capture of broadcast video (NTSC or PAL) on a computer screen. The PS/2 TV was marketed by IBM. The PS1 and PCTV were marketed directly by Tecmar.
Scientific Solutions engineers were involved in the design of several multimedia breakthrus including the first sound cards for PCs that allowed for high-quality record and playback of digital audio, digital video products with MPEG/JPEG compression/decompression and TV tuner products. Although many of these multimedia features are commonplace today, they were breakthru products when originally developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Scientific Solutions Taken Private
In 1994 Scientific Solutions was taken priviate and spun-off from Rexon as a completely independent corporation. Many of the same engineers, sales and manufacturing personnel who had been with the company since the 1980s were still part of this spin-off. Rexon continued with the Tecmar tape brand and eventually sold it to Legacy Storage Systems International.
In 1997 Scientific Solutions celebrates its 25th year in business. The LabMaster ADEX is introduced which adds another product to the LabMaster family of cards which now includes the original LabMaster, the LabMaster DMA, the LabMaster AD and the LabMaster ADEX.
The 2001 Test & Measurement World 20th year anniversary issue contains an article titled “PC instrumentation through the ages” (Test & Measurement World, Vol 21, No. 11 September 2001) and again cites the Scientific Solutions LabMaster as the world's first data acquisition board introduced in 1981 for the IBM PC. The LabMaster is the longest selling IBM pc add-on product of any type and is still going strong today.
Scientific Solutions continues to sell and support many of the PC products that were originally introduced in 1981 along side our newer products. The LabMaster ISA card produced today is essentially identical to the original 1981 version, with the update for DMA (added in 1987) and incorporation of surface mount components for better manufacturing and quality control. Software written in 1981 will run on the current version of the board and software written today will run on the 1981 hardware. The same is true for the BaseBoard, IEEE cards, LabTender and DADIO.
Today, Scientific Solutions continues to innovate and provide data acquisition solutions to a wide variety of customers. We are proud to design, manfucture, sell and support our products from our USA facilities. We are also proud to continue to support our long-time customers with the original products still in production supplementing our new products.
Byte Magazine, Vol 7, No. 2, February 1982, pg. 157
Byte Magazine, Vol 7, No. 6, June 1982, pg. 383
Byte Magazine, Vol 7, No. 7, July 1982, pg. 337
Byte Magazine, Vol 7, No. 8, August 1982, pg. 369
Byte Magazine, Vol 7, No. 9, September 1982, pg. 415
Byte Magazine, Vol 7, No. 10, October 1982, pg. 355
Tecmar advertorial “congratulating”IBM for the personal computer...”Personal Computer is Great! - and now, it is even better with TecMate series of Add-in and Add-on Products” which includes IEEE-488 interface, Analog to Digital Converter 8, 12, 14, 16 bit, Digital to Analog Converter 8 and 12-bit, Video Digitizer, Stepper motor controller, etc.
Byte Magazine, Vol 7, No. 3, March 1982, pg. 83
Byte Magazine, Vol 7, No. 4, April 1982, pg. 161
Byte Magazine, Vol 7, No. 5, May 1982, pg. 175
PC Magazine, Vol 1, No. 1, February-March 1982, Back Cover
PC Magazine, Vol 1, No. 2, April-May 1982, Back Cover
Full page advertisement titled "The IBM Personal Computer. . . Personal, Professional, Technical - or something in between. . . PC-Mate makes the IBM Personal Computer a perfect match." Discusses various products including making the computer an Intelligent Laboratory Tool with IEEE-488 instrumentation, Analog to Digital Converter - 8, 12, 14, 16 bit, stepper motor controller, BSR X-10 device control, etc. . .
Byte Magazine, Vol 7, No. 7, July 1982, pg. 71
Byte Magazine, Vol 7, No. 8, August 1982, pg. 263
Byte Magazine, Vol 7, No. 9, September 1982, pg. 39
PC Magazine, Vol 1, No. 3, June-July 1982, Back Cover
PC Magazine, Vol 1, No. 4, August 1982, Back Cover
PC Magazine, Vol 1, No. 5, September 1982, Back Cover
Numerous products mentioned including IEEE-488, LabTender,LabMaster,Stepper Motor Controller, BaseBoard, Video VanGogh, etc. .
From the article:
Three years ago, there was no such thing as a comdex.
Two years ago, the national trade exposition for computer dealers was held for the first time. About 180 companies set up exhibits in the Ballroom of the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel, and maybe 4,500 people came to see their wares.
Last year the show expanded into the Las Vegas Convention center's two small halls - a space double that of the Hilton ballroom - to accommodate a doulbe number of both exhibitors and asile-walkers.
And this year (November '81) COMDEX moved into the Convention Center's big East Hall, which dwarfs the other two halls combined. Six hundred forty-four exhibitors ... and nearly 25,000 people reportedly attended. It was a fitting sign for the year when IBM finally decided to enter the world of the personal computer.
20 Add-ons in Two Months: The pleasant shocker for us was right down at the end of our asile, in the booth of a Cleveland outfit called Tecmar Scientific Solutions. In about the same time it took us to produce our eight pages, Tecmar Scientific Solutions had produce a complete line of 20 Add-on accessories for the PC. They even had an expansion adapter that could pass for the PC Sysstems unit's twin - until you peaked inside and saw a 5-million character Winchester storage disk where the PC has its diskette drives.
As for all [the other] COMDEX exhibitors who had nothing to display for the IBM PC, it seemed like more than half of those we asked clamied they were in the process of getting something together.
From the article:
There is a saying that defines luck as "the intersection of opportunity with preparedness." If that is so, then Tecmar Scientific Soluitons, Inc., in Cleveland, is a very luck company. Because when IBM presented them with an opportunity, in the form of the Personal Computer, Tecmar Scientific Solutions met it with seemingly faultless preparedness. The result, a mere three months after IBM's official announcement of the PC, was Tecmar Scientific Solutions' COMDEX announcement of 20 add-ons, expansions accessories and enhnacements for it.
The company's ads could almost be headed, "Everything you always wanted to add to your IBM PC," except Tecmar Scientific Solutions didn't leave people time to have wanted anything for very long. The product line, christened "TecMates," includes:
- a plug-in clock/calendar module (Time Master)
- a BSR X-10-type device control module
- Device Tender with BSR control
- Device Master - combination of Time Master and Device Tender
- a stepper-motor controller (Stepper Motor Controller board)
- a speech synthesizer module (Speech Master board)
- a module to let several PCs share a printer (Multi-System Printer Sharing Facility)
- an expansion cabinet with a design matching the PC System Unit (PC Expansion Chassis)
- a Winchester-type hard disk system with controller card (Winchester Disk and Controller)
- a video digitizer (Video Van Gogh board)
- three modules for analog/digital conversion
- LabTender board with LabPac Software - 32 channel A/D, 16 Channel D/A, Five counter/timers, 24 bits of digital I/O
- LabMaster board with LabPac Software- 16 channels of 12/14/16 bit A/D, 2 channel D/A, Five counter/timers, 24 bits digital I/O
- DADIO board with LabPac Software - Four channels of D/A and 24 bits of digital I/O
- a selection of modules for various kinds of inupt, output and memory
- Dynamic 192K/256K Ram Expansion
- Static Ram/Rom
- Two serial and one parallel port (Scribe Tender board)
- Three serial ports, Three parallel ports, Time of Day clock (Scribe Master board)
- IEEE 488 parallel port (PCMate IEEE-488 board)
- 96 bit digital I/O controller (PCMate BaseBoard digital I/O)
- and aids to custom circuit-board design
- EEProm programmer (E2PROM Programmer)
- PC Prototyping board (Protozoa board)
- Fused Extender board for testing and analyzing plug-in adapters (Extender Board)
Tecmar Scientific Solutions president Martin Alpert says his company's preparedness was the result of previous work developing scientific and industrial electronics for use in microcomputer systems that are based on the Intel 8086 microcomputer systems that are based on the Intel 8086 processor. The 8086, he says, has the same internal architecture as the 8088 chip used in the PC.
When IBM announced the PC, Alpert realized Tecmar Scientific Solutions was well positioned to develop products for it. He began planning immediately. Alpert tells how Tecmar Scientific Solutions people flew to Chicago and "camped on the doorstep" of the Sears Business Systems Center to get two PCs on the first day they were available. "We go our logic analyzer on it and figured out the bus," he says. "It didn't take very long; it's very straight-forward with only a few confusing lines." According to Alpert, between 40 and 50 people took part in getting the products ready for previewing at COMDEX.
The Tecmate item that performs the neatest trick is the Device Master module that combines clock, clendar and the sort of device controller that sends signals over electrical wiring to activate lights, appliances and the like. According to Alpert, the module, which has its own battery power, can be used ton control the outlet from which the Personal Computer itself receives power. The Device Master can store a command ordering the computer to be turned on at a certain time, then execute a command to turn the computer off, and then - using its own power - turn the computer back on at a preset time. Whereupon, if appropriate autostart software is in the computer, new times can be set and the whole cycle repeated.
Article “Boca Diary” by David Bunnell, PC Magazine Publisher and Editor in Chief is about his visit to Boca Raon in December 1981 to "vist the birthplace of what could turn out to be the most synamic electronic product of the decade - the IBM Personal Computer. David visits the PC's birthplace in Boca Raton, Florida, for a first-hand report on the how-and-whys of the IBM Personal Computer. Don Estridge, the IBM executive in charge of the Personal Computer, shares insight into the PC's design and other. discusses that in 1981 members of the IBM PC design team “were particularly intrigued by Tecmar Scientific Solutions, the Cleveland engineering company which, at that time, had already developed more than 20 options, including a PC expansion box.” Article includes interview with IBM personnel.
This article is by David Bunnell, the PC Magazine publisher about his visit to Boca Raton in December 1981 "to visit the birthplace of what could turn out to be the most dynamic electronic product of the decade - the IBM Personal Computer."
Excerpt from the article:
"Our first two visitor were Bill Syndes, Engineering Manager, Entry Systems Business and David Bradley, Manager of Entry Systems Business Architecture. I (David Bunnell) asked them about the open-bus structure of the Personal Computer and how they felt about third-party companies selling such things as IBM PC-compatible memory boards. Sydnes told me that the PC was definitely "designed to be open." He and Bradley were very interested in hearing about these products and they were fascinated that so many were already available. They were particularly intrigued by Tecmar Scientific Solutions, the Cleveland engineering company which, at the time, had already developed more than 20 options, including a PC expansion box."
Application Title: LabPac User's Guide and Reference Manual
Type of Work: Text
Registration Number / Date: TX0001211386 / 1983-07-05
Application Title: LabPac software version 3.1
Type of Work: Computer File
Registration Number / Date: TXu000137971 / 1983-07-05
Date of Creation: 1982
PE&I, Vol 4, No. 6, June 1987, pg. 25
PE&I, Vol 4, No. 11, November 1987, pg. 78
PE&I, Vol 4, No. 12, December 1987, Inside back cover
PE&I, Vol 5, No. 1, January 1988, Inside back cover
PE&I, Vol 5, No. 2, February 1988, Inside back cover
PE&I, Vol 5, No. 3, March 1988, Inside back cover
Full page advertisement for LabMaster, LabTender, BaseBoard, IEEE-488, Stepper Motor Controller.
The article relates Dr. Aitken's's search for data acquisition hardware for the IBM PC. . . ”The next step was to find an analog interfacing board for the PC that would meet the laboratory's needs. . . .At the time of our search (fall, 1982), only one firm, Tecmar Scientific Solutions was marketing such boards. Fortunately one of their models, the LabMaster, offered all the features we needed: 6 to 12 bit A/D channels (with optional expansion to 256), 5 clock/counters, 24 digital input/output lines, and A/D conversion speeds to 40Khz.”
The article includes details and source code for software that implelments a digital storage oscilloscope using assembly language and the LabMaster data acquisition system. "...is a complete listing of an 8088 assembly language subroutine named DSCOPE1, which, when called by a BASIC program, collects and averages sweeps of analog data on Labmaster channel 0, the collection sweeps are triggered by pulses on labmaster channel 7. In general, this program is used for fast sampling of short-duration signals. In our lab, it is used to collect and average responses of brain cells that have been triggered by electrical simulation. It sets up a clock on the labmaster board to run at the desired sampling rate...[and] permits already-collected waveforms to be plotted..it converts data into appropriate X and Y values and then sends the commands to the digital-to-analog conveters on the Labmaster board. It has met our every need so far, and we have not come close to exploiting all its capacity. During a year of heavy use we have experienced no hardware failures...no software bugs."
This article explains many aspects of data acquisition, such as: digital to analog, analog to digital and digital I/O.Using the LabMaster card's channel array for channel switching and gain control and the timer and counter functions are also explored.
Abstract from the Editorial Index:
"The LabMaster board provides a powerful and flexible interface for the IBM PC. The board has 16 single ended or 8 differential A/D channels, two D/A channels, five 16-bit counter/timers, and 24 digital I/O lines. The LabMaster performs very well in a lab. A photo shows the LabMaster board. The motherboard and the register access for the 9513 timer are shown in figures. A table gives port assignments for the LabMaster."
devices that will perform at least four of the five functions required for the laboratory applications described... Several of my colleagues and I bought the LabMaster board made by Tecmar Scientific Solutions because it provides all five functions and because it was the first one available"
Mr Clune explains "Since I find the IEEE-488 to be the most versatile option for laboratory data acquisition, I will devote a fair amount of time to explaining that interface."
He further explains "The equipment used in the experiment includes an IBM PC with 128K bytes of memory, a Tecmar Scientific Solutions IEEE-488 interface for the PC, ..." The article contains same data acquisition programs that includes using the Tecmar Scientific Solutions IEEE-488 software ver. 3, which is a version of the Route-488 library.
Electrical signals can be digitized using the Tecmar Scientific Solutions Lab Master board and then displayed as waveforms on the computer screen or in hard-copy. "Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, has two PCs, equipped with Tecmar Scientific Solutions Lab Master boards, that are used to digitize and store waveforms from biomedical experiments."
"Research laboratories such as ours have become increasingly dependent on computers...we developed a method of combining compiled and interpretive higher-level languages for general use in a diversity of laboratory applications......The software described here was written specifically for an IBM PC equipped with a Tecmar Scientific Solutions Lab Master board...The Lab Master board has four discrete functions required for laboratory application: an analog-to-digital (A/D) converter with 16 channels of input; two digital-to-analog (D/A) converters; a 24-channel digital input/output (I/O) device; and a chip with five programmable counters and an internal 1-Mhz clock, whose basic frequency can be divided either by powers of 10 or powers of 16."
The reviewers used the Tecmar Scientific Solutions Lab Master card to test and evaluate the various functions of the software.
Also included as one of the five packages is Tecmar Scientific Solutions LabPac.
In recognition of this publication's 10th year anniversary, the editors selected and awarded “Decade of Progress Awards” products for 10 outstanding products introduced since 1981 including the Scientific Solutions LabMaster. This was the beginning of the T&MW annual awards program which is now known as "Best In test"
"Test & Measurement World is pleased to announce the winner of the Test Product of the Decade award. The winner is Tecmar Scientific Solutions' Lab Master with Lab Pac, the first IBM PC-based instrument board, which was released in 1981. (Tecmar is now Scientific Solutions). The award is based on the votes of our readers. In our September issue, we honored ten test products as recipients of our Decade of Progress Awards and asked reads to vote for the product they felt contributed the most significant technological advance to testing. Lab Master won by a healthy margin.
The recipient of the 1991 John Fluke, Sr., Memorial Award is Dr. Jim Truchard, cofounder, president, and chairman of National Instruments. This award, which is presented by Test & Measurement World, honors a senior manager of a test-equipment maufacturing company whose professionalism has enabled his or her company to achieve success while being a positive influence on the industry."
TM&W Award Archives
"The PC was unveiled with great fanfare, and it began shipping in October 1981. By the time PC Magazine premiered in February 1982, the PC was a smash hitThat first issue included a look at all the new PC products and accessories introduced at the third annual Comdex show. Tecmar Scientific Solutions, a company headed by Martin Alpert, introduced 20 PC accessories."
Scientific Solutions Trade Show Attendance
Scientific Solutions has attended major tradeshows in the US and around the world. The grand-daddy of them all was COMDEX, which existed from 1979 to 2003 and at its height was the largest computer trade show in the the USA and only 2nd (not aways, but mostly) to the German CEBIT. Scientifc Solutions attended COMDEX each year, usually twice a year, from 1979 until 1995. Our budget for COMDEX grew from a few thousand in the beginning to a few million very quickly. It was a huge event.
As computers and technolgy migrated to the home, we migrated to Consumer Electroincs Show. It was excellent to show off our multi-media products, and promote our products for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning.
There were many other shows such as the National Conference on Computers, PC Expo, and smaller regional shows
Additionally, Scientific Solutions for many years had a "road show" to college campuses where we would promote the use of computers in the classroom. This resulted in many schools using our products to teach science; physics, chemistry, biology, physiology, electronics. The computer as a control for experiments and as a Virtual Instrument allows the students to create, run, acquire data and analyze results with one easy-to-use instrument.
With the demise of the big shows, and the dwindling attendance, Scientific Solutions has moved to the internet to reach our customers. The big shows were fun - but their time had passed
Following is a partial list of Scientific Show attendance. We will add to this list as we go thru archives - and welcome anyone to send us information they may have.
COMDEX Spring '861996: April 28 - May 1Atlanta, GA
1983 - 1400 authorized dealers
1984 - 3000 authorized dealers
Retail Channels: Sears Business Centers, Entre' Computer, ...