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UTI's Path Through Time

Updated Wednesday, March 30, 2005

1979 - The Seed

In 1979 our founder and President, Mark Willson, was working as the National Technical Support Manager at BTI Computer Systems in Sunnyvale, California. The company built multi-user minicomputers that were mostly used for car dealerships.

(A 16-bit CPU, 64KB RAM, 10MB 14" hard disk, with sixteen 2400 baud serial ports went for about $35,000 in those days. These computers were similar to HP 2000 computers and in fact early models used an HP 21MX CPU.)

Another young man named Rick Clayton was also working at BTI as a lead developer on the "Big Brother" project. (A group of maintenance and diagnostic computers that would call up, check, diagnose, and even repair customer computers automatically over the phone.)

Having both worked together previously as programmers in the Application Development department at BTI, they were friends. Both having software and hardware backgrounds, their off-hours discussions frequently turned to technology and new ideas. One day their focus became more specific.

Both men saw a problem with the usefulness of the new video terminals--BTI's computers couldn't pause sending information to the screens without aborting (terminating) the program. Even at 2400 baud (roughly 240 characters per second) the computer was faster than many people could read.

To make a long story a lot shorter, both Mark and Rick worked together to design and build a device to solve the problem. It would go between the video terminal and the computer. It would recognize and handle the brand new X-ON/X-OFF standard for flow control.

(Picture of Schematic Sketch)

(Technical types might ask: Why not put that control into the operating system software? HP actually took that approach. They had a little loop of code checking every character coming into each serial port looking for [control]-[R] and [control]-[S] (X-ON/X-OFF). Unfortunately the CPUs were so slow at that time that simple checking process ate up over 50% of the processing power of the machine! With the cost of computing power so high and the value of the feature so low no one who had to pay for the machine thought that HP's approach was a reasonable solution.)

Once Mark and Rick had they device ready and tested, they needed a name for the company. The name they selected was Uncommon Technology.

Fast-forward fifteen years to 1994. The original UTI never really got off the ground--a similar design was incorporated into BTI's serial port boards shortly after we demonstrated our device to them (foolish us).

The overall concept of solving specific business problems with innovative and practical solutions was great. It just need the right problem, the right solution, and the right timing to begin.

1994 - Starting Point


Mark never stopped thinking about Uncommon Technology over those fifteen years. He believed that the future would make the Internet a strong force in the marketplace. He decided to start Uncommon Technology.


A Silicon Valley office for UTI was opened in Santa Clara, California.


Uncommon Technology was incorporated in the state of Washington.


Consulting services were launched. The corporate headquarters were set up in Kent, Washington. Know at the time as the largest import/export center in the United States, Kent was well suited to the company's future plans. It's also a city that's friendly to high-tech businesses.


A comprehensive data warehousing strategy was created for clients.


The Silicon Valley office moved to Sunnyvale, California.

1995 - Internet Strategy


Initial designs for the Internet service business were started.


The initial business model was completed. The software/hardware mix for Internet computers began evaluation.


Final selection for hardware and software for use in the Internet computers was completed.


UTI's first Internet services computer was built. Testing began.

1996 - Internet, Software, and Seminar Groups Launch


UTI's first Internet services computer was tied directly into the Internet's backbone in Mountain View, California. (At the time there were only two main Internet nexuses in the United States. They were called Mae West and Mae East. We were hooked directly into Mae West.)


Reliability and performance testing was completed on UTI's Internet connections and computers.


UTI's first paying Internet service client signs on. Version 2 of uWeb(tm), UTI's high security web server, was released.


Experienced a massive multi-pronged general Internet attack from anti-spammers around the world upset with a new UTI client. Client has sent a very large amount of unsolicited email. None of the attacks were successful. The responsible client was disconnected. Development of new Internet service tools began.


New policies and procedures were put into effect to make UTI's computers even more secure from attack. Testing of Internet services and products were completed with beta clients.


Opened doors to Internet clients. Uncommon Sense(tm), version 1 of the automatic web browser detector and web page modifier was released.


Started offering dial-in PPP accounts (Internet dial-tone) in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Launched seminar services. Offered our first seminar for businesses. It was called Building Your Profits Using the Internet. Held at the Hilton in Sunnyvale, California.


Started first direct mail campaign. New method for monitoring Internet systems was released.

1997-2001 (very incomplete listings)

January 1997

Expanded local dial-in PPP access nationwide. Started first personal direct mail campaign to business leaders.

September 11, 2001

Mark watched live TV moments after the first plane hits the World Trade Center. Had access to live, unedited satellite feeds. Switched to them. Watched live as the second plane slammed into the second tower. Caught a live feed from top of a building near the Capitol. Watched as the Capitol was evacuated. Heard the explosion and then the sirens when the third plane hit the Pentagon. Could see the smoke cloud rising in the distance. A horrible day.

2002 - A Change in Direction


The decision was made to refocus the company on only dealing with solving or helping others to solve business problems. Internet server software and Internet services to be shutdown. Those business segments have become too much of a commodities business. Uncommon Technology gets out of common products and services.


Segment services and products are reevaluated. Consulting services will be continue to be offered, but focused only on business issues. A new publishing group will be formed to offer publications related to satisfying client demand for educational materials on the CrossFire method--UTI's very successful approach to identifying, understanding, and resolving problems with business processes. Seminar services will be suspended until the new publishing group launches its first product. It will then move to work the middle ground between educational materials and consulting.


First book "Troubleshooter's Arsenal" has become too long for a reasonably sized book (700+ pages and growing). Decide to break the book into five parts and publish them separately.

2003 - Writing Dominates


Of the five pieces of Troubleshooter's Arsenal, it's decided to finish and bring out in book form the sections that deal with integrity, focus, and leadership. It's title will be Integrity's Impact.


Manuscript for Integrity's Impact completed. Publisher selected.

2004 - Publication Group Design


Copyediting on Integrity's Impact completed.


Rewrites completed on Integrity's Impact.


Work on the publishing group slows down while Mark deals with his wife's serious and unexpected medical problems.


Final corrections and artwork for Integrity's Impact completed and released to Phoenix Color for printing. Initial run 5000 copies.

2005 - This Year


Publishing group receives first copies to Integrity's Impact.


Total restructuring and re-release of all of Uncommon Technology's websites. Launch of the publishing group with its official release of Integrity's Impact on March 21st. Began promotion on the new book.

Newspaper Rock

Some companies are born out of convenience.

Some out of an idea.

A few, out of the creation of an innovative solution to a real business problem.

Like Uncommon Technology.

Coming May 31st!

Integrity's Impact (shown below) is the first product for our new publishing group.

Book Picture

This deluxe hardcover edition is your practical guide to integrity's power, benefits & use in business.

Copyright ©1994-2005 by Uncommon Technology Incorporated. All Rights Reserved.