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ABOUT DUX COMPUTER

Today, July 22, 1999, is a good day to write an "About" for Dux Computer and a little about myself.  This page is being written quickly, off the top of my head, with no idea how it will turn-out...

On this day, 12 years ago, my wife, Claudia, and I opened a small computer store in Sanford, a town in the southern part of Maine, U.S.A.

We had moved to Maine about a year earlier, after living in Germany for seven years, with the intention of retiring (yes, now you know I am older than many of the people who are writing computerese for Internet consumption).  Well, I couldn't stand retirement for very long and started looking for something to do with my time.  I knew two things for sure: I didn't want to punch someone else's clock and I had always dreamed of starting my own business.  After considering many business ideas, I kept coming back to what I knew best: computers.

Larry and Claudia - Dux's Grand Opening
July 22, 1987

At that time building clone PCs was in it's infancy.  I had been building computers since the last part of the 1970's in school and as a hobby and had built an XT clone while still in Germany and an AT clone shortly after returning to the States.  So, I soaked my retirement savings into a startup, Dux Computer Works, in nowhere, U.S.A., with no idea at all whether or not it would work.  At the beginning we had a 1,200 square foot store, myself, and Claudia doing the book keeping part time.  It worked!  By 1991 we had nine people on the staff, had more than tripled our floor space, and were doing almost a million dollars in sales per year.  We were looking for places to open new store fronts.

And then it started to die very slowly and painfully!  Over the next eight years book sales went to Bookland (6/30/00  Bookland is history); the big computer manufactures started competing price wise; mail order got stronger; software became unprofitable; small computer stores were popping-up all over the place (and disappearing about as fast as they were popping-up);  printers and lot of other hardware products became unprofitable; Staples, Circuit City, Walmart, and few others opened stores in the area and started selling in volume; shipping costs went up; and finally users became more knowledgeable and many started building and fixing their own computers (I got stuck with the hard problems).  So, now we are in a much smaller place and the staff is what was when we started, Claudia and myself.  We are still here and still fixing, upgrading, and building computers in my small shop (and not worrying about meeting payday for nine employees every Friday).

A couple of years ago I started looking for a new niche and playing with ideas to make additional income.  I tried Web site design - not very profitable and it ate-up a lot of time.  I thought about starting-up an Internet Service Provider company, but I didn't have enough capital and the competition was getting fierce--I'm still kicking myself for not seeing and missing that window in 1991.  Finally, one day last year I asked myself, what can I sell?  The answer was knowledge.  On May 28, 1998 I converted the Dux Computer Works web site into the Dux Compute Digest.   Since then the Digest has grown steadily and I've been happier.

Now about me (Larry Byard)...

I was born on November 6, 1940 in Oneonta, New York, U.S.A.  I grew-up in family of six children of very modest means.  I can still remember World War II and my Father being gone to fight in it as an Army paratrooper and my Mother trying to take care of four children during the hard times of war and rationing.  We lived in Richmond, Virginia at that time.  After my Father came home from the war, we moved back to New York.

I grew-up in Rochester, New York and got hooked on electronics at an early age.  I was one of those kids who built crystal receivers with coils wrapped around oat meal boxes, tinkered with junked vacuum tube victrolas, made intercoms out of old radios, and built one-transistor radios in fountain pens.  I can clearly remember seeing my first TV program, Howdy Doody, and, later, thirsting for a new kind of victim to dismember:  a TV set.

I enlisted in  the U.S. Naval Reserve while still in high school and went on active duty after graduating in 1960.  The Navy, recognizing true talent, promptly sent me to Electronics Technician School in Great Lakes, Illinois for six months.  From there I was assigned duty at Naval Air Station, Cecil Field, outside of Jacksonville, Florida.  My job there was fix'n UHF and VHF transmitters used for air control and lending a hand troubleshooting navigation aids and other communications equipment.  When I wasn't on-the-job or at a Saturday night dance, I studied and I studied.  I was determined to go to college and learn more about electronics.

In 1962 I went to college.  The Navy sent me to North Carolina State University, in Raleigh for four years.  I received a Bachelor's Degree in Electrical Engineering and, after attending OCS, a commission as an Ensign in the Navy.

From there I went to war.  I served as the Electronics Material Officer, Combat Information Center Officer, and, finally, the Operations Officer on the USS Radford (DD-446), a destroyer home-ported out of Pearl Harbor.  During that time we made two 6-month cruises to the waters off and in Vietnam.

I left the Radford in 1969, spent 6 months ashore going to school, was assigned as Operations Officer of the U.S.S. Gearing (DD-710), a destroyer home-ported in New London, Connecticut.  We took that old veteran of World War II on one cruise to the Mediterranean.  During this time Claudia and I met in Newport, Rhode Island and were later married in 1972.

In 1971 I left the Gearing, spent three years in Washington, DC and found myself the Operations Officer of a third destroyer, U.S.S. Paul F. Foster (DD-964).  Well, it really wasn't a destroyer yet.  I went to Pascagoula, Mississippi where it was being built and was part of the commissioning crew.

In 1977, I had nearly 18 years in the Navy and was thinking about retiring in a couple of years when the Navy threw another plum at me, postgraduate school.  I spent over two years at the Navy Postgraduate School in Monterey, California relearning electrical engineering and studying advanced subjects.  Many of my courses were in computer hardware.  For my thesis work, I obtained 8086 processor developer's kit from Intel and designed a computer around it from the chip-up.  After almost a year of doing things like laying-out printed circuit boards on the glass top from a coffee table, perched on two saw horses, illuminated with a light shining-up from a lamp on the floor, I had a working computer, which couldn't do much of anything, and no thesis...  Intel had delay after delay in shipping a compiler for the CPU.  I programmed the thing with a key pad and watched 0's and 1's--and tried to figure-out what was going on--with a logic analyzer hung on the bus.   I still didn't have a working compiler when I left PG school in 1979 to "work" at the Headquarters of the U.S. European Command outside of Stuttgart, Germany.

In Stuttgart, I was assigned to the World Wide Military Command and Control System with the title of Electrical Engineering Officer.  My job was to bring new technology, mainly the microcomputer, to solve military command, control, and communications problems.  Over the five years I spent there I scrounged money from here and there and automated an office of senior Officers and Civilians with Macs, Apple Lisas, and a Cromemco S-100 computer.  It was integrated into Arpanet, the forerunner to the Internet, with a DEC PDP 11/73 mini/micro-computer.  I really loved the job.  Nobody there, but me, knew anything about microcomputers.  It was my first "playpen."   If allowed, I would have stayed there until old age, but it became time to go and leave the Navy. 

I retired from the Navy in 1984, moved three buildings away and went to work for BBN (Bolt, Beranek, and Newman, Inc., now part of GTE) as their Technical Support  Manager for Europe.  My job and my crew's  was to provide tech support for the European segment of a military computer network which was derived/split-off from the Arpanet.  Two years later I left BBN and Germany to bring my six-year-old boy, Joshua, back to the United States in time to start school.

So, now, hopefully, with your help, I'll create my second "playpen," the Dux Computer Digest.

8/8/00 10 Days and counting... On  7/22/99 I said "So, now, hopefully, with your help, I'll create my second 'playpen,' the Dux Computer Digest."  Well, you have helped and I'm going to do it this month.

5/11/04 I did it.

Larry

Copyright, Disclaimer, and Trademark Information Copyright © 1996-2006 Larry F. Byard.  All rights reserved. This material or parts thereof may not be copied, published, put on the Internet, rewritten, or redistributed without explicit, written permission from the author.