HOWE TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION
Howe established Howe Technologies Corporation (HoweTech) in the fall of 1981 to provide consulting and maintenance services to radio and TV stations which were upgrading to stereo audio from monaural audio. Prior to this, he served as an on-air talent at FM radio stations in Denver, CO, and also serviced transmitter equipment since he possess a certification from the FCC to legally work on type-accepted electronic equipment used by broadcasters. From 1972-1977, He became an electronics engineer involved with the multitrack digital audio recording and radio/TV production industry and ultimately formed an advanced computerized major recording studio known as Mountain Ears. This studio was the largest facility of its kind in the Colorado area with 24-track professional recording equipment and several major recording projects to its credit. He developed and built the first consoles used at Mountain Ears (first 8 channels, then 24 channels). These were the first automated, computerized consoles in the Rocky Mountain area.
Investors in the recording business were not interested in a radio and TV consulting or manufacturing effort which he started in 1977 which catered to owners of FM and TV stations who were upgrading their stereo audio production capabilities. Consequently, Mountain Ears was separately incorporated as a “spin-off” company with no continuing corporate ownership or affiliation with HoweTech. HoweTech was first established as a sole proprietorship and later incorporated in 1981.
ADVANCED OPERATOR CONTROL FOR RADIO STATIONS
In 1977, Howe developed custom multichannel audio consoles designed specifically for on-air use in a 24-hour per day radio and television stations. At that time, the available manufactured consoles had outdated designs in spite of increased interest by radio stations (particularly FM and TV) for more advanced designs. The requirement for extreme reliability continued to exist but recording studio, sound reinforcement, and movie sound consoles were generally inadequately designed and unreliable for the task. Also, extraneous console facilities of “non-radio” consoles were expensive and too complicated for most on-air situations. His radio, audio and electronic expertise led to the development of six custom consoles which provided advanced performance while not sacrificing the total reliability necessary for broadcasting operations.
Design ideas were documented and console manufacturing was initiated. The basic design permitted customizing by the radio station engineer, retained excellent performance criteria, and allowed operation without fatigue by DJ’s. This console, which is titled the Series 7000, was introduced at the 1979 National Association of Broadcasters show in Dallas, Texas. Not counting the 13 custom consoles designed before the 1979 introduction of the 7000, there are over 300 of his consoles in use at some of the most prestigious radio stations in the country. Individual consoles range in price from $18,000 to $40,000. Equipment failure rate has been less than 3%. (Note that radio on-air facilities are usually in operation 24-hours per day under heavy use, fast-paced formats.)
One advantage of the Howe consoles is their ability to operate in a high RF (radio frequency) field with no sacrifice in performance. Many radio stations are co-located with transmitters and antennas. Audio equipment that is not designed to withstand a high concentration of RF simply does not perform adequately in this situation. Radio frequency interference (RFI) is virtually non-existent with all of his designs.
In addition to consoles, he also developed many console accessories, such as turntable preamps, power amplifiers, microphone mixers, telephone interconnects, etc.
AUTOMATIC STEREO PHASE-ERROR CORRECTION
A unique stand-alone piece of analysis, signal processing and real-time signal correction equipment that is receiving considerable praise for innovation in the broadcast industry is the Phase Chaser. This device continuously optimizes the phase relationship of two (left and right) stereo channels for noticeably clearer reception. It uses a proprietary cross-correlation technique, and the Phase Chaser represents a breakthrough for the broadcaster upgrading to digital stereo. Since its availability in January 1982, over 500 of these units have been delivered to major-market radio and TV facilities and commerical production studios. Development and manufacturing of the Phase Chaser elevated Howe Technologies to a leading-edge status. HoweTech holds the proprietary interest in its correlation technique and a patent issued in 1989. The advent of Dolby surround-sound widened the scope of usefulness of this device as evidenced by the large number of competing units which have now entered the market.
RESPONSIBILITIES AS CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
As CEO for HoweTech, Howe wrote comprehensive business plans which led to two successful rounds of financing, in 1981 and 1984. These plans outlined all future goals, strategies, and organizational aspects needed to bring growth in revenues. His careful solicitations and interviews attracted two well-known venture capital companies that brought the initial capital infusion needed to implement the 1981 plan. Again in 1984, additional expansion needs led to a new growth plan which outlined new marketing opportunities, particularly in stereo TV. This brought in more financial support from the venture companies and an additional bank line of credit. Total working capital amounted to $500,000, outside of the company’s own substantial holdings.
He brought to the company a very broad range of experience and know-how. He was the inventor of key concepts, methods, and products which brought Howe Technologies to a prominent position in the broadcast industry. As a consultant to broadcasting since 1970 and the founder of Howe Technologies in 1972, he gained a respected position in the industry independent of his full-time research position at NIST. In 1985, he left the company and an elected individual filled his CEO position in order for me to give priority to family, community activity, and expanding NIST research programs. In 1992, Howe Technologies ceased its design and manufacturing programs and returned to its original form as a radio and TV consulting and maintenance company.
During the growth of Howe Technologies, he obtained valuable skills in responding to a market, interpreting audit results and other various financial documents, procuring private equity funds, and managing people and other resources to implement the business plans. This experience is rare in the background of a research physicist, engineer, and mathematician and shows clearly his ability to adapt to a variety of objectives with positive results.