From the desk of: Sam C. Chan

Bravo Company History (from BPP)

February 12, 2006

The following is a "reprint" of an article originally published in January 2005 at Bravo Partners Portal (BPP), with an intended audience of IT resellers/consultants. Per Bravo policies, selected articles from BPP may be declassified and republish for general audience after a minimum of 1-year wait time.

Below is the original article in its entirely as published in January 2005.

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A Brief Company History - by  Sam C. Chan,  January 2005

Bravo Technology Center was founded by me in Brockport, New York, USA, in 1981 under the name "The PC Specialist." I was the Overseas Purchasing Agent for Micron Computers in Hong Kong. Back then, the newly announced American-made IBM-PCs were being sold to Hong Kong. The primary means of business electronic communications was Telex! The two main international freight forwarders were DHL International & Flying Tiger. That same year, as an 18-year old college freshman, I was earning $4.25/hr at the college tutoring fellow computer science students. I soon discovered that I could take on students of my own and get paid $10/hr at the end of session. 3 years later, I started working as contract programmer at $25/hr for a collection agency, in a database language called Sculptor from a British firm called Sage. Computer dealers at that time were mostly businessmen with virtually no technical knowledge, making 30% margin on $3000+ systems. I was frequently called upon to solve basic problems in setup and operations.

By 1983, the advent of IBM-PC compatible market gave rise to the likes of CompuAdd and PC Limited (Dell today). I sold my super deluxe genuine IBM-PC with a very low serial number to someone in California through The Source (later acquired by CompuServe). I upgraded to a "souped up" version of generic PC. I started helping my clients evaluate & order PC compatibles. Eventually, it was less frustrating for all, to just resell to them.

In 1985, I bought my house, started graduate school at R.I.T. and went on to assemble my own "no name" custom systems. Few years later, the business evolved into a full-stocking regional distributor for dealers from Canandaigua to Buffalo. At one time we had 40+ dealers, plus a steady stream of R.I.T. students with rich parents. We were the sole distributor in New York state for Delta Corporation (#2 world-wide power supplies manufacturer), with their brief venture into the Socos monitors business. Many of you no doubt would recall vividly the early days of BBS debates, "AnnaExpress" and our gatherings such as D-Day and Operation Santa, etc.

In 1986, with the then state-of-the-art 386 Micronics motherboards and EISA bus, I started creating high-end industrial-grade systems to replace $10,000+ NCR Tower Systems time-shared hosts (incorrectly referred to as "mainframe" by office workers) and named them Ultrix System. They would have Comtrol 32-port RS-232 for terminals, running SCO UNIX. To print checks with magnetic info on blue safety paper, we use laser printers with MICR toner cartridges. I had to buy expensive OCR-B font cartridges, and write low-level device drivers to interface with them. That's how we provided "check-by-phone" payment option to debtors in the 80s. Some of those very boxes are still running today at factories and collection agencies! For those of you not familiar with the Xenix and UNIX scene, that was the era when mainstream corporations use the "big three": Novell, 3Com & Banyan, and small businesses would use LANtastic or 10-Net and numerous other NOSs.

Throughout history, we've been the behind-the-scene tech support for the resellers, on networking issues and UNIX projects. There was a 5-year period where POS installations using MicroBiz, solenoid-released cash drawers, receipt printers, display poles and barcode scanners; represented a big part of our business. By now, my programming was mostly on Clarion, Paradox, Access 1.0 and Turbo Pascal. Of course, there was always Lotus 1-2-3 (and later Quattro & Excel) macro programming. Around this time, I was contracted by TRW Corporation to perform on-site repairs for Gateway, Swan and many other major national sellers.

The Internet was always a part of life for those of us with academic computing connections. I started that phrase in 1985. The use of vi (text editor), rn (newsgroup reader) and uucp (file transfer) was definitely not for the faint-hearted. The Xerox Viewpoint workstation (a descendant of the the famous Star) raised the level of features and introduced me to high-end publishing. Around 1993, the advent of Internet on the PC scene converged my UNIX life and Windows life. Interestingly, back then, I had to purchase the TCP/IP suite of protocols and crude apps from Spyglass and Netmanage at significant costs! In 1996, I jumped on that "home page" bandwagon, thus launched the web-dev career that continues unabated today.

Web hosting was the next key piece that we mastered along the way. It all started in 1998 with 2 sub-domains with Netfirms, a Canadian company. Shortly after, I started reselling hosting and domain names. In 2002, we launched our own dedicated servers with full control and redundant backbone connections. Webcast/streaming services were added and we've been "live" since.

Our humble web presence began in 1996, with a single amateurish site on AOL. A decade later, our online enterprise spans across continents, with 21 of our own active sites, on multiple servers, with custom programs, and most importantly―over 2000 pages of original documents, plus tens of thousands of pages of compiled materials, and countless number of download items. A road map is needed to navigate through the vast resources of our virtual landscape.

Something called Free Software Foundation (FSF) started back in my SCO UNIX days (late 80s), and escaped the notice of me and my peers in those days, as they once represented no significant impact/benefits. By 1997, I had renewed interests in FreeBSD, and subsequently the various Linux distributions. Today, the open source offerings form a strategic part of our solutions.  (See B.O.S.S.)

In the last 6 years, my specialties have been security and collaboration, the 2 primary areas I have identified as most demanded by the SMB market.

So there you have it... a super condensed version of our 24-year history. 


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