The History of Kubota Graphics Corporation

Todd Massey
24 September 1995

Dana Computer was started by Alan Michels along with several other heavy hitters in the industry who had worked at or help start and sell Convergent Technologies to Unisys.

Dana Computer had to change their name to Ardent, because Dana was already used by someone else.

Dana/Ardent built the Titan Graphics super computer based on Mips Risc technology.. (Note: this was back when SGI was only building graphics boards to put in Sun workstations!!)..

During this time the only competition was Stellar an east coast based company attempting to sell to the same market as Ardent. A desktop machine was started in development (1988) at Ardent code named Stiletto (meaning to stab the life out of stellar). Stiletto is a 6 processor box the size of an PC-AT. 2 R3000, 2R3010, 4i860 The i860s were used for the graphics sub system... boy does the reality engine use i860s??? (I wonder which was built first??)

Ardent then merged with Stellar in 1989 to become Stardent. The first attrition of good people left Ardent to start other companies.

End of 1990, Alan Michels and other Ardent people file suit against Kubota for forcing the merger. Lawsuit was settled out of court.... The contingency being that all documentation used in the suit be given to Kubota and no discussion of settlement amount... Though I know the settlement money was given to charity....

Several west coast people attempted to get Kubota who was the only VC left suppling money to Stardent to spin off a new company taking the Titan and Stiletto, the company was going to be called Comet.

Just as stiletto is entering Beta stage... Stardent (east coast), closes down Stardent (west coast).. Severence packages are made available to everyone, key people are asked to move to boston to work on projects.

Kubota in a last ditch effort gets Stardent to allow Kubota to fix and develop the Titan and Stiletto, but Stardent has the rights to the technology. Kubota Pacific is born...Though there is a clause stating that KPC only has a limited time to become profitable before the funds dry up!!!

Stardent closes down the old Ardent building at 880 Maude Avenue in Sunnyvale in Fall of 1990.

A new location in Santa Clara is found and built out... I remember this well... because Steve Quan, Harker (consultant), and I packed and moved all the machines in one weekend from sunnyvale to santa clara without losing a machine... And yes you have the three of us to blame for the design of the machine room and the TP running to all the cubicles!!!

Stardent hooks up with Okidata to produce a i860 machine code named warbler. Stardent ships the machine but has no real success in generating revenue, funding for Stardent drys up and Stardent closes the doors, but not before Kubota gets the rights to the Titan. Out of Stardent-East technology is born GS Inc. and AVS Inc.

Before Stardent closes, KPC had cancelled Stiletto and P4 (follow on processor board for titan).

KPC continues to lose key people in first year of life..... Different machine ideas are thrown around based on new mips processor R5000 code named magnum. Kubota owned 8 percent of Mips at this point (not really sure on percentage, could be higher).

X1 is devised (a distributed machine...sound familiar)... and then shot down...Offsite meetings seem to increase for different groups. Tom D. comes back from Apple and pushes for the high end graphics sub system.... Denali is born.. At the same time.. We are in bed with Digital now on the Alpha processor. Originally Cray and KPC were the 2 players with Digital for the Alpha processor. KPC was going to build a MP box based on the Alpha processor (EV 3.5). KPC management decides to not do a MP box, but a flamingo clone... Nighthawk is born....and dies before ever getting out of the architecture phase. Without a machine... OS group hangs out and becomes substaining engineering literally, compiler group starts working on alpha compiler and the rest of company resources are aimed at denali... OS group and compiler group are offered jobs to do graphics work or severance packages... Most take the severance...

The time clock continues to get punched and the funding continues dwindle..

A deal must of been struck with Kubota to extend the funding, because funding continued to come after original cut off date...

Along the way someone changes the name again.. KPC becomes KGC.

Denali is a great product.. Just like everything else the engineers have put out during the life of the legacy, but it does not bring in the revenue to keep the company a float... KGC closes the doors.

The point I am trying to make is that the company had many lives and it really hurts when you live through them... But I want to bring forth that from this legacy many successful companies have risen.

Just to name a few companies started by people who have left the legacy of Dana/Ardent/Stardent/KPC/KGC

Stratacom, Athenix, Chronologic Simulation, NDA, Powerhouse, AVS, Proxar/Ecosystems, VCS Inc, OnTrack, Enact.... (I could go on...)

Now I want you to remember these companies were started by Ex members of the legacy.