Kaypro Corp. or Non-Linear Systems

From: Chandra Bajpai <cbajpai_at_attbi.com>
Date: Sat May 24 12:23:01 2003

Looks like CEO Andrew Kay is still around..selling wintel boxes.


-----Original Message-----
From: cctalk-admin_at_classiccmp.org [mailto:cctalk-admin_at_classiccmp.org]
On Behalf Of DABIGDOG143_at_cs.com
Sent: Thursday, May 22, 2003 4:13 PM
To: classiccmp_at_classiccmp.org
Subject: Re: Kaypro Corp. or Non-Linear Systems

In response to the question of which came first, Non-Linear Systems or,
Kaypro Corporation. I worked in the purchasing department of both
companies during
the 1980s. Kaypro Corporation was a division of the parent company
Systems which was established in the 1950s by Andrew Kay, who was the
innovator of the digital volt meter. In the early 1980s, Non-Linear
Systems began
building the Kaypro portable computer after Kay's Son-in-law, Jonathan
Badder, a
local architect in partnership with Kay's Daughter Janice Kay, expressed
desire to have a portable computer to take out to job sites.
When the Kaypro portable computer became an overnight success and far
eclipsed the volt meter business, Kay established the computer division
known as
Kaypro Corporation. Both products were manufactured simultaneously at
the Solana
Beach, California location at 533 Stevens Avenue, near the Lomas Santa
Fe exit
of Interstate 5.
When I joined the Company in early 1983 we went from about 50 employees
over 500 within a year. Andrew Kay was a very interesting and forward
employer, hence the name of his original company Non-Linear Systems,
since he
prided himself on non-linear thinking. He was a very health conscious
individual, and had a juice and salad bar installed, which all employees
could dine at
for only a dollar. He tried to treat everyone as extended family, and
that a work environment that incorporated nature in it's design would
better work. Therefore, every office had windows in front and back, with
row of trees and grass between each building. It required some
walking to negotiate around the plant, but he believed that walking
promoted good
health. He also was very interested in personal intellect, and in the
stages of Kaypro, everybody had to take a sort of IQ test that he
designed and
administered. He also made versions of the Kaypro that were marketed as
"Tutor Computer" that were a learning aide for children.
It was a fun place to work in the early days, with a very young average
employee age. We were encouraged to work hard, and to play hard. Lots of
barbecues, intramural sports teams, and the like. It was fun to go to
everyday. During the push to increase shipments before the Company's
public stock offering, we received some very generous bonuses, including
Christmas bonus equal to a month's salary, which we received around
December 15th.
In the latter 1980s the company was plagued by poor quality, serious
inventory management problems, a revolving door on upper management that
included a
long parade of self-impressed no-nothings that couldn't break free of
linear thinking, and a serious lack of continued product innovation.
After the big
boys like IBM jumped on the bandwagon of the PC and laptop market,
just couldn't compete. All these factors and a few more, including the
of Kay family members in key positions that did not have the
capabilities of
founder Andrew Kay, eventually led to the demise of Kaypro. I think that
business section writer for the San Diego Union Tribune said it best
when he
penned the phrase "Too many Kays and not enough Pros."
Garr Farrell
Received on Sat May 24 2003 - 12:23:01 BST

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