Saturday, May 26, 2007

Ian Robert Astbury

Ian Robert Astbury (born May 14, 1962, in Heswall, Cheshire) is an English rock singer and lyricist.
Astbury's career began in 1981, with the gothic rock band Southern Death Cult. At that time, he was going by the name "Ian Lindsay." Southern Death Cult gigged to support its "Moya" single, and secured a slot as an opening act for Bauhaus in 1983. Shortly after that tour, the band split up.
Along with guitarist Billy Duffy bassist Jamie Stewart and drummer Ray Mondo, Ian (now going by the surname "Astbury"), formed a new band, Death Cult and later dropped Death from the name.
The Cult band was one of the most successful British rock bands of the late 1980s and early 1990s. With the 1984 release of their first album Dreamtime, The Cult were the darlings of the Indie post-punk scene, their chart topping "Spiritwalker" single having held at number one for three months. Their second album, Love, evoked memories of 1960s psychedelia such as The Doors, and the Pretty Things. It also featured their now classic hit "She Sells Sanctuary", which introduced them to an international audience. On their third album, Electric, The Cult made a radical transformation to hard rock reminiscent of AC/DC and Aerosmith with the help of Rick Rubin. This further broadened their audience as rock began making a comeback in the late 1980s. Guns N' Roses, who were heavily influenced by Electric, opened for The Cult on their 1987 North American tour, before going on to sell millions of copies of their debut album Appetite for Destruction.
Although The Cult went on to greater heights with their mainstream hit single "Fire Woman," (on the follow up 1989 Sonic Temple album), they began to get criticized by many hardcore fans on artistic merits. Soured on the band's more commercial direction, The Cult were now characterized as pretentious and as having sold out, particularly among their British fan legion. Around this time, Ian Astbury relocated to Los Angeles California. He became friends with The Fuzztones, often jumping up onstage with them at live concerts. One such concert,at Scream in Downtown LA,was recorded and a cover of "The Stooges" song "Down On The Street" was released as a picture disc in the UK on Situation Two Records. It features Ian Astbury on vocals & the "In Heat" era Fuzztones (John Carlucci, Jordan Tarlow, Mike Czekaj & Jason Savall) as his backing band.
The dent in their reputation was amplified by the loss of many Sonic Temple fans, when their next album (Ceremony, 1991) delivered dissapointingly in the wake of an oncoming grunge fad.

Ian Robert Astbury

In 1994, The Cult returned with their untitled album and a musical change of pace. Gone was much of their overblown rock trappings, replaced instead by Astbury's growing interest in electronica and introspective lyrics. To support the album they set out on tour, but in Brazil, Astbury's creative differences with guitarist Billy Duffy reached their peak, and Astbury walked out on The Cult.
Inspired by his sudden change in direction, Astbury immediately assembled another group of musicians and began writing new songs. He called the group The Holy Barbarians, and in 1996 the band released an album, "Cream". Although the Barbarians were not a commercial success, they were well received by many who had regained respect for Astbury as an artist.
Personal difficulties and a drive for further introspection drove Astbury away from his new group, as he began working on a solo album (eventually released as Spirit/Light/Speed), to mixed reviews and low sales.
In 1999, Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy regrouped The Cult to head one of the most financially successful tours that year. A new contract with Atlantic Records was inked, and in 2001 came the release of Beyond Good And Evil. Early radio success was being had by the single Rise, until the band had a falling out with Atlantic and they killed any and all commercial promotions and radio play for BG&E. The fight with Atlantic was described by Ian as Soul Destroying and a disillusioned Astbury, brought The Cult onto another hiatus in 2002.
Having long been influenced by Jim Morrison, in 2002 Ian Astbury filled his hero's footsteps by becoming lead singer in an updated version of The Doors, with original members Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek, known as The Doors of the 21st Century, renamed in 2005 to become Riders On The Storm. In 2003, Astbury also performed with surviving members of MC5 at the 100 Club in London, before finally reforming The Cult with Billy Duffy again in 2006, for a series of live dates and rumours of reissues and another greatest hits compilation in the works.
2007 THE CULT will enter the studio to begin pre-production on the group's first album since 2001's "Beyond Good and Evil". A Autumn release is expected. Also planned for release is a DVD of the band's November 13, 2006 concert at Irving Plaza in New York City, tentatively due in April.
THE CULT's current touring lineup includes principals Ian Astbury (vocals) and Billy Duffy (guitar) alongside bassist Chris Wyse, drummer John Tempesta (ex-WHITE ZOMBIE, TESTAMENT, EXODUS, HELMET) and rhythm guitarist Mike Dimkich.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Jack Tramiel - Commodore man

Jack Tramiel is a businessman, famous for founding Commodore International, manufacturer of the Commodore PET, Commodore 64, and Commodore Amiga home computers, and later President and CEO of Atari Corp.
In 1970, Tramiel started work on electronic calculators, and in the early 1970s Commodore became a major supplier of calculators based on a Texas Instruments chip-set. In 1975 TI decided to take over the market, and started producing their own complete calculators which sold at a cost lower than the price of the chip-set alone. This drove most manufacturers out of business, but by this time Commodore had enough of a war chest to survive.
Tramiel started looking for a chip producer to buy, thereby guaranteeing a supply of chips in the future. The obvious solution was MOS Technology, a small company in Pennsylvania that had been set up as a second-source of the TI chips, and was currently struggling with cash-flow problems. MOS was bought in 1976, becoming a part of Commodore.
One of the engineers at MOS was Chuck Peddle, the man who had designed the ground-breaking 6502 chip. Peddle convinced Tramiel that the calculator was a dead-end as a product, that the computer would take over, and that the 6502 was the first in line for success. Peddle showed him a "test system" using the 6502, the KIM-1, and while Tramiel was interested he demanded that Peddle and Tramiel's son Leonard put it into an all-in-one form in time for the COMDEX in six months.
Combining the KIM with a new display driver chip, 4kB of RAM, a version of Microsoft's BASIC programming language, and an all-in-one case including a monitor and cassette tape drive for storage resulted in the PET 2001. At US$599, it became a hit, notably in schools where its tough construction was a major advantage over technically superior machines like the Apple II and Atari 8-bit family, which came out a year later.
Although Peddle left the company in 1980, improvements were made to the platform. In 1980 a new graphics chip with basic color output and a RF modulator for television display produced the Commodore VIC 20, which became a huge seller. In 1982, another new graphics chip, a new state-of-the-art sound chip and 64K of RAM resulted in the Commodore 64 (C64), which was an even more popular and went on to become the best selling home computer in history, with about 22 million units shipped. In 1984, Commodore's sales surpassed US $1 billion.
The success of the C64 was based on a massive manufacturing effort that cost a huge amount of money to set up — borrowed money that should have been easy to pay off in profits on the sales. However, Texas Instruments entered the market, and it appears that Tramiel was so upset about their earlier dealings in the calculator market that he decided to kill them in this one. Publicly declaring "Business is war", he started a price war, with the C64 quickly dropping from US$595 to US$199. While sales continued to skyrocket, profits plummeted, and Commodore's cash flow along with it. It seemed Commodore would soon be in command of a market worth nothing.
By late 1983 Jack and the Board of Directors argued over the direction of the company, which resulted in Jack resigning or being forced out, and several Tramiel loyalists quit Commodore in protest. Jack took a brief hiatus but decided to come back to the computer industry under the claim that he felt no current US computer company was strong enough to compete against the Japanese, who were now moving to enter the US market. So, he formed a new company named Tramel Technologies, Ltd., in order to design and sell a next-generation home computer. (According to Leonard Tramiel, "Our name Tramiel was constantly being mispronounced as 'Tra-meal' and my dad hoped that the other spelling would get people to say 'Tra-mell' (it rhymes with 'done well'). It didn't work."). Several former Commodore employees (including his son Sam and lead Commodore engineer Shiraz Shivji) soon joined him at the new startup, and by March Jack had his new computer design underway.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Michael Dell the founder of Dell Inc

Michael Saul Dell (born February 23, 1965, in Austin, Texas) is the founder and CEO of Dell, Inc. Dell is the son of an orthodontist and grew up in a Jewish family. He went to Herod Elementary. He had his first encounter with a computer at the age of 15 when he broke down a brand new Apple II computer and rebuilt it, just to see if he could. Dell attended Memorial High School in Houston, Texas, where he did not excel scholastically. After graduating high school, he attended the University of Texas at Austin intending to become a physician. While at the university, he started a computer company called PC's Limited in his room in Dobie Center.

The company became successful enough that, with the help of an additional loan from his grandparents, Dell dropped out of college at the age of 19 to run PC's Limited, which later became Dell Computer Corporation, then ultimately Dell, inc. Over time, and despite a number of setbacks (including laptops that caught on fire in 1993, temporarily losing the consumer market to Gateway in the mid 1990s, and others), Dell survived the race to become the most profitable PC manufacturer in the world, with sales of US$49 billion and profits of US$3 billion in 2004. As Dell expanded its product line to more than computers, shareholders voted to rename the corporation Dell, Inc. in 2003. On March 4, 2004, he stepped down as CEO of Dell but stayed as chairman of the board, while Kevin B. Rollins, then president and COO, became president and CEO. On January 31, 2007, Michael Dell was reinstalled as CEO of Dell, replacing Kevin Rollins (who resigned earlier in the day).

Accolades for Dell include: "Entrepreneur of the Year" from Inc. magazine; "Man of the Year" from PC Magazine; "Top CEO in American Business" from Worth Magazine; "CEO of the Year" from Financial World and Industry Week magazines. Dell is famous for his eating prowess, and once ate two dozen boiled eggs in a single sitting, earning him the unofficial title of 'The Egg King of Austin.'

Dell resides in Austin with his wife, Susan, and their four children (ages 10 to 14).

On May 15, 2006, The University of Texas at Austin announced a US$50 million grant from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation to "bring excellence in children's health and education to Austin". The grant will enable the construction of 3 new facilities at the university. The first is the Dell Pediatric Research Institute which is expected to complement the new Dell Children's Medical Center nearby. The second is a new computer science building on the UT campus named Dell Computer Science Hall. The third is the Michael and Susan Dell Center for Advancement of Healthy Living, which is intended to address issues that affect healthy childhood development.

As of 2007, Forbes estimates Michael Dell's net worth at 15.8 Billion, making him the 30th richest person in the world.

In 1998 Michael Dell founded MSD Capital LP, a private investment firm, to invest in various small companies on Dell's behalf. According to reports, the firm tends to invest in "late stage" investments, rather than early in a company's startup.

Dell had a public war of words with Apple CEO Steve Jobs, starting when Jobs first criticized Dell for making "un-innovative beige boxes". On October 6, 1997, when Dell was asked what he would do if he owned then-troubled Apple Computer, he said "I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." The feud has since appeared to be over as Dell and Apple reached an agreement for Dell's online store to sell iPods. On January 13, 2006, Apple's market cap surpassed Dell's

In 2000, Forbes magazine named Dell Computer Corporation the third most admired company in the U.S. Furthermore, Michael Dell holds the notable distinction of being the computer industry's longest-tenured chief executive officer.