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INVENTING LIFE

 

MIACOMET - 1995-2005

MIACOMET SOFTWARE COMPANY - REAL FEEL HARDWARE

THE RISE AND FALL OF AN AMERICAN COMPUTER SOFTWARE AND HARDWARE COMPANY

In 1979, David Krebs, gave me one of the first Texas Instrument TI-99/4 Home computers made. It had been given to him as a gift but he had no interest in it and knew I'd be intrigued by it. I brought it back to my apartment and instantly fell in love with the challenge of making it do something.  I remember making a little stick figure dance on the screen with my wife for hours. That computer was responsible for getting me hooked on electronics and computing.

I started to buy synthesizers and Atari's and Commodores and Apples and anything I could get my hands on to learn more about these amazing machines and technology. Eventually I started the Mindworks computer store on Nantucket with my good friend Bob Lamb. We were the first computer store on the island and we sold the first color & sound commodore 128 home computers. The store was actually more about selling software games which drove the purchase of the computer to play them. But after a couple of years I realized I had no desire to be in the retail business, I was much more interested in creating something for the computer.

 

Right after we sold the Mindworks computer store I met a gentleman named Bruce McCowan through his wife who had called me for problems with their computer. I went to their home here on the island to help them out and after fixing everything we sat and talked at great length about computers and the industry that was coming. Bruce seemed to think I would make a great computer stock analyst for his firm in NYC called McCowan Associates, an investment firm that handled over a billion dollars for pension funds and private investors.  I knew nothing at the time about stock investment but he assured me he would help me learn. So I became the firms first Computer Stock Analyst and I researched computer companies for investment for the next 4 years. During that time I also became a Novell certified Administrator and installed their first computer network in the main office in NYC. 

 

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Bruce McCowen

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After 4 years in NYC I was ready for yet another change.

 

I had wanted to start a new company but I was still searching for that special idea for a product when one day while fishing with my bud Bob on his boat called the shmee for striped bass, the idea to create high end virtual motion controllers for the PC came to me.  I loved playing games on computers but they always felt disconnected with a mouse. So I invented a series of controllers that would give you the real feel of interacting with the game or a sport sim.

 

The first one I focused on was a Fishing Rod and Reel that not only allowed you to control a fisherman on the screen but also let you cast and set a hook and reel a fish all with the real motions of fishing. I also created a gear system that would torque up inside and a gyroscope weight that would pull in different directions and this replicated the weight and fight of a fish.

So I quit my job in NYC and started to build my Company which Linda, my wife, named Miacomet. 

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I applied for my first patent and after about a year and a half and a huge amount of our personal money I was awarded my first US Patent.

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While I was waiting for my patent to issue, I started to work on the Fishing software simulator that would be sold with the Fishing Controller. There was no 3D mesh modeling software at the time it hadn't been invented yet so I made the fishing sim this beautiful piece of art by having a good friend of mine and great local artist, David Lazarus, hand draw every plate in the software program and I would than animate everything over the top of his beautiful hand drawn pictures.

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To create the fishing environments,  I created a bait that the fish followed at different times and weather changes and created a strike zone around the bait that the lure had to cross to attract the fish. Once attracted the fish would bite at the lure depending on lure color, time of day, weather and how the lure was reeled across the strike zone. Once the fish was hooked it would turn everything on inside the reel and replicate the weight and the fight of the fish. I used real video oceans layered on top of animated sky weather changes with a video of my fishing consultant Bob Decosta as the fisherman controlled by the rod and reel controller. When the user pulled the rod back in a casting motion the video fisherman would move with him, the direction of cast and distance was controlled by the speed of the cast and the angle. Once the lure was in the water the reeling motion of the controller controlled the speed of the lure retrieval. All of this coding was placed under real video of oceans with weather sky changes and a controllable fisherman video that moved with all the motions of the Fishing Rod. Below were some testing videos and an opening Intro of the software program I created.