OS/2 eZine - http://www.os2ezine.com
16 October 2001
Bill Armstrong is a freelance writer and broadcaster in Regina, Saskatchewan. He specializes in corporate communications, script writing and the occasional broadcast on the local cable system. Before freelancing he worked in a telecommunications company and a politician's office. Before that he worked as a news director in radio and television. His first computer ran at 4.77 Mhz, with a 12 inch amber screen. After a couple of years with Windows 3.1 he switched to Warp 3 and then moved to Warp 4. He says "I'm no techie, but the technology fascinates me."

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ZOC - Telnet Client and Terminal Emulator via Secure Shell (SSH/SSH2), Modem and ISDN

An Interview with Andrew Bloo of Scitech Software

SciTech Software is probably best known among OS/2 - eCS users for its Display Doctor graphics utility. SciTech Display Doctor eliminates the need for hardware-specific display drivers, making it easier for OS/2 users to enjoy high quality displays on their systems. Recently Bill Armstrong interviewed Andrew Bloo [photo at left], Product Marketing Manager for SciTech Display Doctor and SciTech.

BA When was SciTech formed?

AB SciTech began developing its core product over a decade ago, and we've seen it grow into one of the world's most advanced graphics and display utilities. Many people said that creating a universal display architecture was impossible, but the team was able to make it happen. Over the past couple of years we've seen IBM and several other major players in the industry work to integrate our product into their solutions.

BA What products did the company provide at the start?

AB SciTech cut its teeth developing MGL, a powerful and robust cross-platform graphics library. In our earliest days you could find SciTech products shipping with some of the hottest games and applications. MGL is now in its fifth version, and SciTech is pioneering stereo enabling software for the next generation of games. We also see SciTech Display Doctor as defining the meaning of a true universal graphics driver.

BA Most OS/2 - eCS users know of SciTech because of Display Doctor, I suspect. How ambitious was it to undertake the develop a universal display driver product, and how much more was required to develop it for several different operating systems?

AB We knew from the beginning that developing for a single OS was a shortsighted proposition, and that with the talents of Kendall Bennett (Director of Engineering) and Tom Ryan (Marketing Director) a cross-platform solution was within our reach.

The core components of SciTech's products are designed to be OS-independent. This structure allows us to support markets such as OS/2 while others are forced to ignore it due to the high cost of development and support.

SciTech realized early on that the OS-specific code is simply an interface to the system, and we've isolated it as such. The real magic is in our cross-platform driver technology, called SciTech Nucleus Technology, which communicates directly with the hardware and allows our front-end application to take a more active role in the configuration of the system. SciTech Nucleus Technology makes it possible for supported and certified devices to be ported easily to any OS added to the nucleus architecture.

In the past, developers were forced to deal with the limited tools provided by the OS manufacturers, which did not account for individual hardware configurations. The resulting solutions did not optimize the display system, and required constant tweaking. Our technology talks directly to the graphics hardware and then automatically configures it for optimum performance.

BA I'm no techie, but from what you're describing, there is potential to apply the same nucleus technology to other pieces of hardware. Was there something about graphic displays that led SciTech in that direction first?

AB SciTech Nucleus Technology was designed from the ground up to support multiple OS's and virtually any type of hardware device. While we're currently focused on graphic display drivers - arguably the most difficult drivers to write - the foundation does exist to expand support to other devices.

BA I see from your web site that SciTech is the official maintainer of the Open Watcom project. What does this mean for the company and for the people who use your products?

AB The fact that a company such as Sybase recognizes SciTech as a leader in the market speaks volumes about our company. Our customers know that with us firmly behind the Open Watcom effort, it will be a success.

BA Where is SciTech located?

AB We are in Chico, which is in Northern California. (There is more to California than Silicon Valley.) Here in Chico the members of the team can spend more time with families and friends. They can dedicate themselves to projects and timelines, and still be home in time for dinner. Happy employees and ground-breaking products: What more could you ask for?

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