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|Industry||computer audio industry, computer and video game industry|
|Headquarters||Fremont, California, USA|
|Paul Jain, CEO|
Russell Faust, COO
|Products||computer sound cards, computer video cards, computer multimedia kits, computer games|
Media Vision was an American electronics manufacturer of primarily computer sound cards and CD-ROM kits, operating from 1990 to approximately 1995 in Fremont, California. Media Vision was widely known for its Pro AudioSpectrum PC sound cards—which it often bundled with CD-ROM drives—and its spectacular growth and demise.
Media Vision was founded in May 1990 by Paul Jain and Tim Bratton. Early employees also included Russ Faust, Michael Humphries, Dan Gochnauer, Bryan Colvin and Doug Cody, all from Jain's prior company, Video-7. As Bratton recalls, he wrote the company's business plan while an engineer at National Semiconductor based on Jain's vision of evolving multimedia from VGA to audio and video. Jain raised substantial[clarification needed] funding, based on a business plan on a single sheet of paper, from top VCs such as Brentwood, Nazem, 3i and others. Within its first two years of operation, Media Vision had become the second-largest producer of personal computer sound cards, providing strong competition to Creative Labs. It was the first company to offer a multimedia CD ROM kit (single-speed CD ROM drive from Sony and Media Vision sound card with an included CD Rom with games and a multimedia version of Compton's encyclopedia) at Fry's Electronics, the well known retailer, where manufacturers routinely tested sales of their new products. Media Vision's kits priced at US$1999 sold out within hours. All the larger computer companies such as Microsoft, Apple and others were the primary initial buyers according to Fry's Electronics.
In 1992, Media Vision was the first company to publish Microsoft Windows with Multimedia Extensions on CD-ROM; having beaten Microsoft to market with its own product, Bill Gates's assistant telephoned and ordered two copies. During the same year, the company acquired Pellucid, Inc., a computer graphics company, and began producing a line of high-performance video graphics cards for the PC. Media Vision became a publicly traded company in late 1992.
Jain oversaw the development of several multimedia chips because he quickly realized that the audio board business would morph into audio chips on PC motherboards. Media Vision developed three complex chips such as a 16-bit accelerator chip, an FM synthesis chip and a Mixed Signal DSP.
New logotype and new image
In 1993, Media Vision updated its logotype to reflect its expanding product lines and broad foray into technologies beyond computer audio. Perhaps one of the biggest endeavors was the company's leap into software publishing with the creation of its Multimedia Publishing Group. CD-ROM titles such as Critical Path, Quantum Gate, and Forever Growing Garden were often bundled with its multimedia kits. The new logo reflected the company's desire to be known as a cutting-edge multimedia technology company. During the same year, the company expanded business operations into Europe with the establishment of Media Vision GmbH in Munich, Germany.
Media Vision could not sustain its meteoric rise. On May 17, 1994, CEO Paul Jain was forced to step down as Media Vision quickly became the subject of the longest-running securities fraud case in Silicon Valley history. The investigation and trial lasted nearly a decade, resulting in criminal charges filed against Jain in 1998 and his unsuccessful indictment on 27 counts of financial fraud and judgments against Jain and CFO Steve Allen. Judge Jenkins, who oversaw the case, allowed only two counts of "wire fraud" against Jain, and in conjunction with the US attorney's office, dismissed all the other charges. Jain was represented by Michael Chertoff, President Bush's Homeland Secretary. Jain maintained that he was set up while other senior officers of the company tried to cover a US$6 million revenue shortfall. He fought the DOJ for ten years and only pleaded guilty because during this period, Jain had two little children and did not want to endanger his health and financial resources, in a continuing battle with the DOJ. In the end, Jain served a few months at a federal camp and subsequently founded four companies in developing multimedia products.
The collapse of Media Vision cost investors and bond holders US$200 million. This loss was in large part created by the class-action lawsuit in which the beneficiaries were lawyers and short sellers. Jain himself lost over US$40 million in the decreased value of his shares of Media Vision. Jain sold less than 10% of his share holdings during Media Vision's life according to the auditor's reports.
Media Vision ultimately became Aureal Semiconductor. When the company changed its name to Aureal, it sold all product lines, key technologies, and trademarks related to the old Media Vision to SVT Shiva, Inc. (SVTI) of San Jose, California. SVTI then created a new division called Media Vision Innovations, Inc. to sell existing inventory. It is suspected[by whom?] that Bob Brownell, who conspired to become Media Vision's CEO and forced Jain out, along with his VP of sales Steve Cason, were beneficiaries of selling this inventory at 25% of the cost. The new division also developed and sold a few new multimedia products under the Media Vision name. SVTI agreed to purchase audio chips from Aureal for the first two years as part of the deal.
Media Vision's products included PC adapter cards, other hardware, and computer games.
PC adapter cards
- Pro Audio Spectrum (1991): 8-bit ISA audio card with CD-ROM interface
- Pro Audio Spectrum Plus: ISA audio card, 8-bit digital sampling, 16-bit digital audio playback with CD-ROM interface, Sound Blaster compatibility.
- Pro Audio Spectrum 16 (May 1992): 16-bit ISA card with CD-ROM interface, 16-bit stereo digital audio, stereo FM synthesis, Sound Blaster compatibility ; based on the MVD101 chipset.
- Thunder Board: low-cost 8-bit ISA Sound Blaster compatible sound.
- Thunder and Lightning: VGA adapter with Sound Blaster compatible sound.
- PCMCIA 16 Bit Sound Card
- Pro Audio Studio 16: enhanced version of the Pro Audio Spectrum 16 sound card, bundled with voice-recognition software and a microphone
- Pro Audio 16 Basic: Stripped down version of Pro Audio Spectrum 16, without SCSI interface, the bundled voice recognition software and microphone; based on the MVD101 chipset.
- Pro Sonic 16: Based on Media Vision's JAZZ 16 chipset (not compatible with the Pro Audio Spectrum line).
- Pro 3-D: Based on Media Vision's JAZZ 16 chipset (not compatible with the Pro Audio Spectrum line), with built-in SRS surround sound, and KORG wavetable daughter board.
- ProZonic: Released in 1996 by Media Vision Innovations, Inc.
- Pro Movie Spectrum/Studio (1993): a realtime video capture board, ISA card, Video1 hardware video codec
- Pro Graphics 1024: high-performance video card
- Pro Graphics 1280: high-performance video card
- multimedia kits, each bundling a Pro Audio Spectrum sound card, CD-ROM drive and software
- Audio Port (March 1992): parallel/printer port audio device for laptop computers
- CDPC: integrated desktop CD-ROM, audio I/O, amplified speakers
- Memphis: enhanced version of the CDPC
- ReNO: portable CD-ROM/CD Audio device
- Pro Audio Spectrum Patch Panel for the Apple Macintosh
Internally, Media Vision was dominated by its large engineering and marketing departments, roughly equal in size and reporting to the Chief Operating Officer Russell Faust. Director of Manufacturing Wayne Nakamura also reported to the COO.
In addition to Component Engineer James Persall, the engineering staff included electrical engineers:
- Korhan Titizer designer of the fully custom MVA508 analog mixer ASIC
- John Minami, co-designer (with Bryan Colvin) of the digital standard-cell MVD101 ASIC
- Mike Rovner, designer of many analog PCB circuits
- John Carlsen
- John Neary
The Director of Software Engineering was Jim Gifford. Reporting to him were:
- Doug Cody (a distant relative of Buffalo Bill Cody)
- Shao Hong Ma, an ADPCM specialist who wrote embedded software
- Ken Nicholson, who later became Director of Game Software Development.
Sales and marketing
Marketing staff included:
- Tim Bratton
- Claire Miriam, Public Relations
- Ryo Koyama, Advertising
- Gary Kinsey, Developer Relations (ISV)
- "This archived letter for procuring sublicense agreement for a patent, send and signed by Mr, Jain as a CEO" (PDF). Stanford.edu. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
- "These names are in the Judgement report" (PDF). Gilardi.com. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
- Bronson, Po. "Gen Equity". Wired.com. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
- "siliconbeat.com". SiliconBeat.com. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
- "Federal Court Judgement" (PDF). Gilardi.com. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
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