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Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Fri Oct 11, 2019 9:14 am

Reposted with permission/originally posted in Facebook. I asked Chris if I could re-post his text outside the walled garden of Facebook for other's to see. He graciously agreed to my request. Photos of the factory were taken by slworking2 (Kevin Key Photography) in 2012 and are posted under this Creative Commons license.

By Chris Edgin

So what happened to ICD, Inc. the makers of cool Amiga 500 expansions, such as the AdSpeed/IDE, and FlickerFree Video? Having worked there as QA, and support, I also did the tech writing for the Amiga products. I experienced ICD at its peaks and its lowest point.

ICD shut down a full year prior to the C= bankruptcy, so the end of the Amiga was not directly related to the demise, however, flagging sales of Amigas, the ending of the A500, and some manufacturing issues all added up to force ICD to a premature end.
Shot of the decaying and abandoned Barber-Colman factory building that once housed the innovative company ICD in Rockford, Illinois. An Atari XE can be see in the foreground. Photo by slworking2 via Flickr, 2012

As many know, our primary product line was all about internal expansions for the A500/500+ that all could be powered by a stock PSU. You could put our AdSpeed/IDE, AdRam540, Flicker Free Video, and an internal IDE HDD all inside the A500 case, and even pack in a KS ROM switcher, and a DF0/DF1 drive switcher (the Shuffleboard).

We had the AdSCSI & AdRam controllers for the A2000 as well, and came out with the newer Trifecta 2000 combo SCSI-2/IDE controller.
Another left behind Atari XE in the ancient ruins of the ICD building. ICD made hardware for Amiga, Atari and Apple computers. Photo by slworking2 via Flickr, 2012

Problem 1

We got blindsided by the end of the Amiga 500, and the arrival of the A600. We had exactly bupkus to sell for A600s or A1200s when they arrived. Nothing we made save for the ROM switcher was of use in the A600 and at the time making accelerator cards that snapped over the existing CPU was a no-go (too risky/expensive back then).

A500 sales dropped like a stone, especially in Europe where most of our A500 expansions business was. Our new Trifecta 500 was a really great external expansion, it was on par with the GVP expansion, if not with more features, but it came too late. I don't think we sold many of them before we went out of business, but I still take pride in getting a high review score in Amiga Format for the documentation I wrote. :)

We had a crash development to create the Viper 1230/SCSI-2 add-on for the A1200 but it only got to the prototype stage before we ran out of money (Click here to download the preliminary documents Chris Edgin created for the ICD Viper 1230.) 
Part of the ICD crew circa 1992, from left to right: Doug Wheeler (Atari dev), Chris Edgin (me, Amiga support/qa), Jose ? (Production) and Bob ? (also Production). Photo provided by Chris Edgin

Problem 2

AdSCSI and Trifecta had serious compatibility issues with 68040 and better accelerators (RCS ones for sure). They did just fine with 020's and 030's but 040's would just make them wig out and no amount of firmware change and re-programmed GALs for the AdSCSI or FRGA updates for the Trifecta would fix it, as in reality it was they were just too susceptible to noise on the Zorro bus, and those big 040s cards were noisy. These cards were mainly aimed and the US market, aka Toaster users, but so many Toaster users moved to 040s and made this a huge problem and we wound up with a lot of returns that cost us.
Photo by slworking2 via Flickr, 2012

Problem 3

We made a major outlay on a non-Amiga market product, which was a system based on our AdSCSI controller, that was for hotels to use to provide on-demand movie playback. We sunk a lot of funds into the design and construction of the prototype, and it still was not ready to demo as cash got tight. It was quite an ambitious project (I think we may have developed the first ever Amiga "clone" by virtue, the master controller for this array used the Amiga custom chips that we acquired from CSG in the Philippines, and we were running a custom build of Coherent 68k on it, and used TCP/IP networking to control it.
Photo by slworking2 via Flickr, 2012

Problem 4

The final problem...the partnership that was ICD was dissolved of disagreement over continued funding between the President, Tom Harker and the CTO, Mike Gustafson (the partners in the business) and with the dissolution went whatever funds were left to operate and we all got laid off the next day.

Many do not know it but ICD actually manufactured almost all of its gear in-house, we had in-house assembly lines, dip tanks, flow ovens, and the PCBs were milled by a vendor right there in Rockford IL. We had a day shift and a swing shift for manufacturing and shipping at our height. As you may imagine, this was VERY expensive to maintain in-house. At the end we were trying to shift to a Taiwanese manufacturer, but it did not come together in time.

ICD did linger on for a few years after, being run as a one-employee company by the President/now sole proprietor, Tom Harker, selling off the remaining Amiga/Atari product inventory. However ICD did make a couple of new products in that short period for the Atari Jaguar and finally shut down with the website being just place holder. Its owner went on to run Rock River Internet, and Rockford, IL ISP.

The ICD website finally went offline March this year.

Chris Edgin had the world's only remaining copy of the Viper 1230 manual in draft form, which he wrote. He converted the manual to PDF and has made it available for download for history buffs.

Edgin: "We demo'ed the prototype of the Viper 1230 at the 1993 WOC show in New York City, but sadly we had to cease operations that May due to funding running out. The 1230 would have been pretty unique as I think it was the only one that offered up a SCSI-2 controller for the A1200 (both internal and external drives). Note that some pages on the draft say "AdSpeed/IDE 2", this is because I re-used the same template for the Viper but never had the chance to go back and polish it up. You will also see some of my handwritten scribbles on some pages as well."

Photos of the factory were taken by slworking2 and are posted under this Creative Commons license.

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Posted Fri Oct 11, 2019 2:12 pm

This is a great contribution to the whole community.
That’s why I love this board :) .

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Posted Fri Oct 11, 2019 7:34 pm

What an interesting journey into what happens when business goes south...a sad and somber tale. Thanks for sharing that.

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Lexington VA

Posted Sat Oct 12, 2019 7:59 am

I find it really interesting that they were caught unawares about the 600 + 1200.. Its not like they came out of a vacuum unknown to anyone.

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Posted Sun Oct 13, 2019 2:28 pm

This is a really interesting documentation. Part of computer history. Thanks for sharing!

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