Plug and Play
Future Domain had a good relationship with Microsoft, especially after we became the major supplier of SCSI to IBM. At COMDEX in November 1993 Bill Gates demonstrated our SCSITOGO PCMCIA adapter which we co-developed with IBM and IBM sold as the IBM SCSI Credit Card adapter. Bill was impressed by the Plug and Play nature of the product (no jumpers and automatic configuration of attached devices) and asked his people to work with us on bringing that capability to the IBM PC and AT bus cards. We formed a group consisting of Intel, HP, Compaq, Microsoft, Creative Labs, two graphics card companies and Future Domain. Adaptec was not included. Microsoft disclosed to us the new operating system they were working on which would become known as Windows 95. We had trademarked the “Plug and Play” slogan for our PCMCIA card, but agreed to release it in exchange for early access and inclusion in Windows 95. All parties agreed to the specification by early 1994 and we began development of our last SCSI chip, the 18PNP300. We released the PNP-1630 card using that chip at the same time Microsoft OEM released Windows 95 in early 1995, we were the only SCSI adapter with embedded Plug and Play support. Immediately customers who had drifted off to Adaptec in the 1989-91 timeframe began requesting evaluation samples of the new adapter. It looked like we would have a hit in 1995!
For Future Domain’s fiscal year ending March 1995 (FY1995) our sales were over $32 million. The projections for FY1996 were $41 million, and the first two quarters of the FY1996 were on target. This was a major turnaround from just five years before. When I relieved Tom and Al from their jobs, sales were flat at just $10 million. In four years I had been able to reignite growth and triple our sales, and improve margins. The year ending March 1991 our sales were $10 million, but we had a loss of about $100,000. Along with our sales growing, our gross margin grew to over 62%. For FY 1995 we made over three million dollars in net profit after tax. I knew I could turn around the company and I did.