- May 19, 2002
Here is an interesting story on what happened to the founder of Kaypro, Andrew Kay.
Nice to know he is still around...Founder of once high-flying Kaypro in another computer venture at 86
At the Computer Museum of America in La Mesa, Andrew Kay points to the blue exterior casing of a 20-year-old Kaypro computer.
It's metal, the same type used in aircraft. Drop this computer in the ocean, Kay says, and it wouldn't rust.
Perhaps that's an exaggeration. But it highlights the philosophy that the 86-year-old Kay who built Kaypro Corp. into the world's third-largest computer maker in the mid-1980s brings to his office to this day.
"For the person who wants quality, we have it," he says.
While Kaypro closed its doors years ago, Kay remains happily plugged in to the cutthroat computer business as the owner of Kay Computers. In a small suite in an aging Solana Beach business park, Kay oversees a couple of employees who assemble build-to-order desktops for a handful of business customers, mostly in San Diego.
At an age when most people are long retired, Kay still drives to the office every day. He does the books, answers his own phone and makes sales calls. His selling point is simple big computer makers can't deliver the quality, reliability or the local support that he can.
Kay is incredulous that consumers are willing accept the failure rates of computers today. He wonders who takes responsibility for quality when many of today's computer companies don't own the factories where their machines are made.
"You see all the ads (from today's computer companies); none of them claim reliability," Kay says. "The idea of getting a product because it was built to last a long time, that has become odd."
With sales of about $1 million a year, Kay Computers is light-years removed from industry leaders such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard, which measure sales in the billions.
But two decades ago, Kay ran one of the hottest companies in the computer business Kaypro Corp. At that time, it was not inconceivable that Kaypro could have become what Dell is today.
Launched in 1982, the company saw sales soar to $120 million in two years. By the mid-'80s, it was the third-largest computer seller behind Apple and IBM, and Kaypro employed nearly 700 workers at a 10-acre Solana Beach factory.
After its initial public stock sale in 1983, Kay and his family many of whom worked at the company were worth as much as $300 million on paper.
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