Friday, August 27, 2010

Message from the CEO

Notes You May Find Interesting on Unibased History
By L.V. “Skip” Covington, President and CEO

Unibased is running out of office space and file cabinets again, which is a good time to review materials before pitching. During housekeeping chores, I found an item that most of you will not be able to relate, and it illustrates how far we have come in the last 20 years. In 1990, Unibased was a pioneer in client/server-based systems and distributed processing, related to real-time clinical information systems. In that timeframe, UNIX was the only serious architecture available, which demanded Unix-based workstations…costing about $10,000 each.

If we used inexpensive workstations for our clinical order management/results reporting systems, i.e., PCs, we were limited to using low speed serial ports. If we could find an Intel-based workstation with an Ethernet port, it was almost as expensive as a UNIX workstation, and we may have been forced into using UNIX workstations entirely. UNIX, by the way, is the reason for “Uni” in Unibased. To make the client/server approach reasonable, we needed a $3,000 or less workstation, which left only PCs with serial ports. Therefore, we developed hardware that would connect to the high speed network and distribute information to 20 or so Intel-based workstations through their serial ports. The component was called a local area network (LAN) interface concentrator (LIC). LICs were installed until 1995, which is about the time we could buy a PC workstation with an Ethernet port for about $1,500. The marketing materials, which emphasized real time, high-speed performance for clinical caregiver orders and inter-facility referrals, indicated that Unibased networks performed at “lickety-split” speeds utilizing the Unibased LIC. Hundreds of LICs were sold in healthcare and other industries between 1990 and 1995.

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