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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

ECD history (other products besides the Micromind)

I don't believe Ron (or Dick) had much to do with the Micromind design--I think that was mostly Jerry, Spencer, Roy, and one or two others whose names I can't offhand recall (Russell O'Connor? Who else? Spencer would know.).

As I understand the story, originally ECD stood for Electronic Consulting and Design--Jerry, Ron, and Dick made money consulting. Once they had their first product they decided that it looked cool as a logo, but shouldn't stand for anything.

That first product, if you aren't aware, was the award-winning C-Meter, a $289 digital autoranging capacitance meter (0.1pF to lots of mF). Its only competition was a $2000 behemoth from General Radio that was significantly less capable and much harder to use.  I still have and use my C-Meter regularly, and I wish I'd bought two back in the day in case this one fails. It's just about perfect for its job, as well as being a marvel of inexpensive, compact, efficient, low-power design. A work of genius. Those guys are brilliant engineers. I felt much the same about my HP-55, which was of similar vintage but gave up the ghost a decade ago.

The C-Meter's successor was a similarly innovative digital thermometer (the T-Meter, of course). It was not as successful, perhaps because it pushed just a little past the edge of practical design and packaging. Still, I wish I'd bought a couple of those, too.

Another person who used a lot of Microminds was Ken Skier.  He's still around (I think he may even be a neighbor)--I bought some shareware from him a few years ago and we corresponded briefly when I realized who it was. He had several of them for some sort of English writing project, the details of which escape me.

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