In The Beginning
AUDIO Images was incorporated on November 6, 1986. The company was founded by Ron Timmons, Dr. Thomas T. Chen, Jim Chen, and Dave Van Hoy. Audio Images was first conceived over lunch at Pedroīs in Santa Clara, CA. The premier professional audio company in San Francisco was Sound Genesis and they went bankrupt during the summer of 1986. We collectively felt that there was an opportunity in the marketplace and that we could do a better job. Ron Timmons owned a company located in Concord, CA called AIC Pro Audio which evolved from a branch office of Audio Industries that was located in San Jose, CA. Dave Van Hoy was working for Lockheed after being one of the top salesmen at Sound Genesis. Doc Chen was practicing medicine in Stockton, CA while also running Custom Recording/Studio C, a recording studio. I was attending graduate school at the University of California at Los Angeles working on my MBA and studying Entertainment Management with visions of working in the record industry. When the opportunity to start Audio Images arose, I changed my focus to starting my own small business. This was the beginnings of the Entrepreneurial Studies Center headed by Al Osbourne, one of my former professors.
When we started Audio Images, our first major vendors included Otari Corporation, Sound Workshop, JBL and Dolby Laboratories. We had the expertise to sell and service large 24 track analog tape recorders and mixing consoles. We worked with every major recording studio in Northern California and were particularly successful with film post production facilities such as LucasFilm, American Zoetrope and Saul Zaentz Film Center. We would work closely with our customers helping design custom recording solutions for each customer. We were selling tape recorders the size of a washing machine and recording consoles that could take three people to run. We also saw the ability to hook up new synthesizer to computers from companies like Emu Systems and Apple Computers.
During the late 80īs and early 90īs, we soon developed expertise with digital audio that could use a desktop computer as the editing front end. We worked with companies such as WaveFrame which was able to edit audio on a 386 computer with $100,000 worth of hardware behind it. Soon we saw new digital audio editing systems from companies such as Digidesign, Opcode and Passport. The days of the analog tape recorder seemed numbered as more and more customers were moving to computer-based digital audio editing systems like Digidesign ProTools or tape based digital audio systems like the ADAT from Alesis Corporation. During this time, AUDIO Images expanded to add locations in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR.
By the mid-90īs, the professional audio business had experienced a paradigm shift from analog to digital technologies. The business changed dramatically and AUDIO Images was forced to change also. We had developed a wealth of experience with a variety of both analog and digital technologies to share with our customers. One of these technologies was the ability to record digital audio to recordable compact disks. We had a customer that was constantly coming in and buying recordable CDīs from us. One day I asked them what type of music they were recording (after reading "In Search of Excellence" and trying to get closer to the customer) and they informed me that they didnīt make music at all. I asked what they were doing with the CDīs and they informed me that they were a software company that was writing a software program that would change the world. They had the ability to combine images, video, audio, and interactivity and could create a "multimedia" CD-ROM. The company was MacroMind and the software was Director 3.0. They sent a woman named Karla Boisvert over to see us and she signed us up as one of her first resellers. We soon found ourselves representing Macromedia at tradeshows all over the country and selling Macromedia products. We were soon one of their largest and most knowledgeable dealers. We were also proud to be one of the first people to make full-screen, full-motion MPEG video inside of Director.
Scot Lancaster from California State University, Hayward was the first one to tell me that the work we were doing with multimedia would soon be surpassed by a new phenomenon called the World Wide Web and the Internet. We soon learned about the web and Macromedia soon released a technology on December 5, 1995 called Shockwave which allowed Macromedia to deploy items created with Director on the Internet within a Netscape 2.0 browser. The following January, Macromedia purchased a company from Campbell, CA called iBand and a product called Backstage. Backstage was the beginning of our HTML development. One day, I received a telephone call from Karla Boisvert and she informed me that she had quit Macromedia and had gone to a new Internet startup in Redwood City. She asked me to take a look at the product that they were soon going to release and wanted us to be their first dealer. I called her at home that night and signed up immediately. The company was NetObjects and the product that I was looking at was a beta version of NetObjects Fusion 1.0. We were also one of the first dealers for Progressive Networks, Intershop, and Equilibrium.
Audio Images Today
Today, we still sell a wide variety of both hardware and software. We have developed training courses for NetObjects, RealNetworks and Equilibrium. We run our own authorized training center and train end customers, employees of the software vendors, and other trainers. Our business has gone full circle from analog audio to digital audio to multimedia to the Internet to Audio on the Internet. We still build recording studios today and are uniquely qualified to help customers create their music and distribute it on the Internet. We have taken our philosophy from the beginning of being knowledgeable and passing our experience on to customers and developed a successful business model. We have developed a substantial consulting business by not merely learning how these tools work but going the distance and learning how customers can use these tools to meet their own success. Our goals are simply to sell the best media development tools, ensure that they work together and empower our customers to be successful.