Radius (computer company)

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For the computer software company, see Radius (company).
Radius Inc.
Industry Computer hardware
Founded California (May, 1986)
Headquarters Sunnyvale, California, United States
Key people
Burrell Smith
Andy Hertzfeld
Mike Boich
Matt Carter
Alain Rossmann
Products Radius Accelerator, Radius Full-Page Display, Radius Two Page Display, Radius GS/C, Radius DirectColor, Radius QuickColor, Radius Pivot, PrecisionColor, Radius Thunder, RadiusTV, VideoVision, Radius Rocket
Revenue US$308 million (1995)
Number of employees

Radius was an American computer hardware firm founded in May 1986 by Burrell Smith, Andy Hertzfeld, Mike Boich, Matt Carter, Alain Rossmann and other members of the original Mac team. The company specialized in Macintosh peripherals and accessory equipment.

Their products ranged from processor upgrade cards (Radius Accelerator) bringing Motorola 68020 processors to earlier Macintosh systems; graphics accelerators (Radius QuickColor); television tuners (RadiusTV); video capture cards (VideoVision); color calibrators (PrecisionColor); multi-processor systems (Radius Rocket) for 3D rendering and multiple OS sessions; high-end video adapters and monitors.


Radius Thunder IV GX 1600 NuBus graphics accelerator

The first Radius product was the Radius Full Page Display, the first large screen available for any personal computer. First available for the Macintosh Plus, it pioneered the concept of putting multiple screens in a single coordinate space, allowing users to drag windows between multiple screens. This was a concept that Apple later incorporated into the Macintosh II.

The second Radius product was the Radius Accelerator, an add-on card that quadrupled the speed of the Macintosh by adding a Motorola 68020 processor.

Another product was the Pivot Display: a full-page display that rotated between landscape and portrait orientation with real-time remapping of the menus, mouse and screen drawing. The award-winning product design was by Terry Oyama, former ID lead at Apple Computer.

By late 1992, the company faced hard times. It faced multiple shareholder lawsuits, accusing senior managers of extensive insider trading weeks before announcing the company's first unprofitable quarter; several failed R&D projects; a black eye from its bug-ridden Radius Rocket product; and a lack of market focus.

In 1993, following the company's first round of layoffs, the strategy was to live off the professional graphics market but build the video business. The company's first acquisition was VideoFusion, as Radius sought a toehold in the world of video production software. The company's engineering management was given the opportunity to partner with or acquire After Effects (originally by CoSA, but acquired by Aldus and later Adobe Systems) but declined. Thus they missed the chance to own a product that would come to define the first decade of digital video.

In 1994, Radius acquired rival SuperMac and shifted headquarters into the latter's building. The SuperMac acquisition netted Radius the Cinepak video compression CODEC, which was still supported by most encoders and almost all media players by the early 2000s. The acquisitions continued with Pipeline Digital and its professional time code and video tape deck control software.

In March 1995, Radius became the first licensed Macintosh clone vendor, and offered two new products: the Radius System 100 and the Radius 81/110. In its final strategic direction, Radius licensed the brand name "SuperMac" to Umax in 1996 for its Mac OS clones, changed its name to Digital Origin and returned to making video editing hardware and software, including EditDV. Shortly thereafter, it was acquired by Media 100 and disappeared.

The advent of Macintosh computers with PCI expansion slots in 1995 saw the end of vendors that made expansion cards exclusively for Macintosh computers. With minor tweaks and new firmware, PC expansion card vendors were able to produce expansion cards for Mac OS computers. With their far greater production volumes from the PC side of the business, vendors such as ATI, Matrox, and others were easily able to undercut the prices of Macintosh-only vendors such as Radius.

On Jan. 6, 1999, Radius Inc. changed its name to Digital Origin Inc. The "Radius" trademark was later acquired by Korea Display Systems (KDS) and was used in their line of CRT and LCD monitors.

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