Alcorn McBride History

It’s hard to believe that Alcorn McBride has been around since 1986. Here are some of the many things that have happened along the way.

 

alcornmcbrideatrydercupIn March, 1986, when Linn Electronics closed its doors, I decided it was time to do my own thing again. I set up an office in our house in Westlake Village, and named my company Alcorn McBride & Associates. alcornmcbridepartsgarageThe first thing we did was buy a bunch of parts from the Linn auction and resell them. Here is my garage full of parts, which Kay sorted and boxed. bruceWithin a few weeks I had enough business to hire Bruce Lamont, one of the engineers who’d worked for me at Linn. townsgate3By summer I’d rented a real office down in the village on Townsgate Road. townsgateIt was a former art gallery. At only 750 square feet it was big enough for a few engineers, and was rather posh. martin88Martin Chaney began moon-lighting for me in 1986, and hired in full time in 1987. foratOur first major customer was Forat Electronics, for whom we designed the F16 digital drum machine.

p_f16
The F16.

iasOur second big customer was IAS. By this time Derek Dotson and Ken Atterholt were working full time, and had moved to Thousand Oaks. At IAS we programmed 14 different robotics semiconductor processing stations for IBM’s 8-inch wafer fab in Burlington, Vermont. ken88Ken Atterholt. townsgate2Martin Chaney and Ted Watler. Glenoaks exteriorBy 1988 we’d opened a second office on Glenoaks Boulevard, in Glendale, near Disney. Glenoaks interior
It was also fairly posh. Andrew Dombek ran that office.

Vineland Martin
Martin in front of our first Orlando office, on Vineland Road, 1989.

Vineland Steve
Steve in his office, Vineland Road, 1989. And yes, he does have a neck in real life.

Vineland 1989
Reference Library, Vineland Road, 1989. Before the Internet you needed databooks! And typewriters.

Glendale 1988
One of three different offices we had in Glendale and Burbank during 1988-1990. This one was shared with Art & Technology.

binloops1In 1982 Epcot Central was filled with 24 track tape binloop machines. little did we realize that by the end of the decade replacing them would be the heart of our business.

binloops2The cantankerous monsters up close.

Hiawassee 1992
Our luxurious  digs on Hiawassee since 1992. We own this one, so we aren’t going to be moving anytime soon!

iaapa 1993IAAPA 1993, Los Angeles. Our very first IAAPA booth.

iaapa 1994
IAAPA 1994, Miami. Our second IAAPA, but our first “serious” booth.

iaapa 1995
IAAPA 1995, New Orleans. Debut of the Video ThinkRack. It never shipped — the Sony CD’s weren’t reliable enough. We made DVM’s and Video Binloops instead.

iaapa 1996
IAAPA 1996, New Orleans. Major truss.

iaapa 96
IAAPA 1996, TEA party at the Kerns’.

lion
IAAPA 1997, Danielle and Steve ride the walking lion. Or whatever the hell it was.

Photokina 2 1996
Photokina 1996, Cologne, Germany. COMM-TEC’s booth.

Photokina 3 1996
Steve with Wolfgang Lenz, president of COMM-TEC, our European distributor.

TiLE 2 1996
TiLE 1996. David and Steve with the late Peter Sarner, in Sarner International’s booth. Sarner was our UK distributor.

TiLE 3 1996
Steve at TiLE ’96, expounding on the virtues of digital video. The audience was riveted to their seats. In fact, that’s the only reason all twelve of them didn’t leave.

V16 Circa 1988
The very first V16, circa 1988.

V16 Back Circa 1988
Here’s how to tell if your V16 is REALLY old: it says “Westlake Village” on the back.

AMAX_16D_output_card_1990
Another old board, the 16D output card used to animate the organ at Pleasure Island’s Adventurer’s Club. 1990

Earthquake_1990_train_in_up_position
The Earthquake train in the “up” position allowing access to the hydraulics. 1990

Earthquake_1990_andrew_and_steve The Earthquake train in the “up” position revealing our new equipment “room” 1990

quake_91 Andrew and Martin in Earthquake with the hood up, 1991.

Earthquake_1990_valve You do NOT want to be standing here when that valve opens. It creates the tidal wave in Earthquake. 1990

iwerks_1990_motion_control_pcb_for_one_base
Motion base controller card for Iwerks Turbo Tour Theaters. 1990

iwerks_1990_motion_control_rack_for_10_bases
Cage for ten motion base controller cards for Iwerks Turbo Tour Theaters. 1990

iwerks_1990_motion_control_rack_for_10_bases_rear
Rear of cage for ten motion base controller cards for Iwerks Turbo Tour Theaters. 1990

Xmas 96 Our 1996 Christmas Card, a satire of the classic Maxell tape advertisement.

 

Installations

Wherever you go there are theme parks using Alcorn McBride equipment. Which means we’ve been there. Of course, Steve only goes to the neat places. That’s why he’s the boss. Zoo 1 1987 The very first Alcorn McBride installation was Adventure Island, the children’s zoo at the Los Angeles Zoo. Alcorn McBride was hired by Art & Technology in 1987 to design the electronic controls systems throughout. To do so, we developed our first controller, the 32T, which would later evolve into the V16. Zoo 2 1987 Kay stepping on the animal footprints, which actuated sounds played back on 360 Systems Permanent Playback cards, a product designed by Alcorn McBride. Zoo 3 1987 I forget what this was, but we controlled it with a 32T card. Zoo 4 1987 “Where is the Lizard?”, and interactive display incorporating a temperature sensor and controlled by a 32T. I never saw the lizard anywhere but under the rock. Zoo 5 1987 Inside the cave, this Pepper’s Ghost effect featured Betty White, a skunk, and a gas mask. It was also controlled by a 32T. Liseberg 1990 In 1990 we designed the Iwerks Turbo Tour Theater simulator control system that was first installed at the Liseberg amusement park in Gothenburg, Sweden. Thousands of these controllers were ultimately installed worldwide. ttt 1 1990 Steve in the theater, with the “hoods up”. ttt 2 1990 Dave Barnett of Iwerks (now back with Walt Disney Imagineering) in the Turbo Tour Theater control room. Jaws Bruce the shark from Jaws, in dry-dock, 1992. sch 1992 The crew of BRC Imagination Arts in our luxurious “office” facilities at Space Center Houston, 1992. Mark Linquist and George Wiktor are in the foreground. Alcorn McBride provided control systems for most of the attractions, including Land the Shuttle, Orbital Rendezvous, Destiny in Space post show, Mission Status Center, the Manned Maneuvering Unit, and the Kids’ Space Place. Steve Shuttle Land the Shuttle, Space Center Houston, 1992. Expo 93 Kia Kia Motors pavilion in Taejon, Korea, Expo ’93. Vote 1993 Kim Roden installing a voting system in the Aegis theater at Nauticus, the National Maritime Center, 1993. Aegis 1993 Steve in the Aegis theater at Nauticus, the National Maritime Center, 1993. Pro Football 1 1995 Jim Fruchy works the Rentec projector at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton Ohio, 1995. Edwards Technologies designed and installed the electronic systems, which use a Digital Binloop, V16 and IO64. Pro Football 2 1995 Pro Football Hall of Fame control rack. Fremont Street 1 1995 The Fremont Street Experience, Las Vegas, 1995. A million overhead lights and 20 tracks of Digital Binloop sound. Awesome. Fremont Street 2 1995 Fremont Street between shows. Fremont Street 3 1995 Fremont Street showing the massive overhead speaker arrays. Trinity 1996 Rick and Kim Roden installing the Edwards Technologies designed control system at Trinity Broadcasting’s “The Revolutionary”, the first of several such installations. Hennesey 1996 Henry Corrado installing the racks at the Hennesey Cognac visitor’s center, Cognac, France, 1996. Steve definitely went on THAT installation. Stratosphere 1996 Stratosphere Tower, Las Vegas. The tallest structure west of the Mississippi. Site of the first LightCue installation. Stratosphere 1 1996 Rick and Kim Roden atop the Stratosphere Tower. If you fall out of that roller coaster, it’s a quarter of a mile to the pavement. Stratosphere 2 1996 Steve, from the same vantage point. Jeremy NBC 1999 Jeremy Scheinberg at NBC, New York. AMI_Exterior_Feb_2000 We purchased the first section of the Alcorn McBride office building in 1993, and were able to do the interior design, including the floor plan, ourselves. In 1996 we acquired an adjacent section, but except for opening a doorway between them, we were forced to live with the existing layout. So it was with great glee that we finally secured the center section of the building, leveled the interior walls, and started over. When we were then able to continue through on the other side of that unit, we remodeled it, too (it had been a deli) and sold off the less useful second unit. So now we have the whole middle of the building. group 5-2001 Tom, Mike, Earl, Nicole, Martin, Grace, David Mayo, Steve, Jim, David Geoghegan. Not shown: Chris and Jeremy   SteveOffice2 Steve pretending to work. unit104 Home sweet home. amiassemblyfacility Warehouse and assembly facility near Orlando International Airport, purchased in 2005 . IMG_1314 30th Anniversary Celebration at Bar Louis