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/// Supra Corporation Speaks!
By Robert Niles
Commodore-Amiga gave us a wonderful platform in which to work and
play, but from video display systems to games, it's the third
party developers that bring us the "toys" in which we enjoy so
One of those companies that have been providing products for the
Amiga is Supra Corporation. I thought it would be nice to "get to
know" them a little better, and get a better feeling of "who"
they are. Sally McMillan, Director of Marketing, was nice enough
to take the time to complete my informal interview and give me
some additional information on the background on Supra
Corporation and its founders. The "interview" and that additional
information is what follows.
AR: Can you tell us a little about Supra Corporation and how it
relates to the Amiga platform?
Sally McMillan: The enclosed corporate background document should
provide a good history of Supra and its relationship to the Amiga
community. While the primary focus of our business is now
faxmodems, we do still manufacture and support a wide range of
[Here is the background information Sally McMillan provided. It
is shortened a bit, but gives a good understanding of how Supra
was started and where it is now:
John Wiley and Alan Ackerman, met when they were students at West
Albany High School in Albany, Oregon. Both were participants in
the Talented and Gifted program where they had a hands-on
opportunity to learn about the emerging personal computer
In the summer of 1981, shortly after high school graduation, they
opened a computer retail store in a 10-foot corner of a bicycle
shop. Soon business was flying, they moved into a store front.
That fall, they started college, and hired a manager to run the
store. As the realities of higher education and retail trade sank
in, Wiley and Ackerman took new risks. In 1982, they rented a
six-foot micro booth at the fourth West Coast Computer Fair and
exhibited an Atari printer solution they had designed. They took
orders for more than $80,000, and decided to shift from retail to
By 1984 they had created a booming business designing, building,
and selling Atari peripheral products. But shortly after the
Christmas of 1984, that boom turned to bust, The Atari market
dropped to 1/4 of it's previous levels. After nightmare
encounters with controllers, bankers, and attorneys, Wiley and
Ackerman emerged with a reorganized company.
In the mid 1980s, Supra continued to develope peripherals for the
Atari and Amiga. In 1987, Supra introduced the SupraModem 2400 at
$179 when the street price for a comparable Hayes modem was $500.
SupraModems sold like hotcakes.
"We were early in recognizing changes in technology," Wiley said.
"While other manufacturers were still assembling every component
of their modems, we recognized the quality-control and cost
benefits of moving to integrated chip sets."
They continued producing communications products such as the
internal modems with data compression and error correction, and
later high-speed fax/modems. "We decided to bet the farm on this
new technology," Wiley said. "We committed marketing dollars for
this product far in excess of anything we had done before. High
speed modems were going to make or break us." It worked. Supra
modem sales soared.]
AR: Who are the people there at Supra that work with creating
products for the Amiga?
Sally McMillan: Supra does not have separate teams for separate
platforms. A wide range of people in engineering, production,
marketing, and support work with Amiga products. Supra has about
AR: What can we possibly look forward to in the future as far as
products for the Amiga?
Sally McMillan: Supra has a customer-driven development
philosophy. At the moment, most of our development efforts center
around new and enhanced technologies for telecommunications.
However, we welcome product suggestions from Amiga customers as
AR: What changes/additions have been made to the new ROMS [this
was concerning the new ROMs for the SupraFax .32bis modems], and
when will they be released?
Sally McMillan: We do not have a firm ship date for the next ROM
upgrade. The primary addition is enhanced ability to communicate
on noisy phone lines.
While telecommunications seems to be the focus of development for
Supra, they have provided the Amiga community with a nice
assortment of peripherals in the past, and most recently the
SupraTurbo 28, the 68000 accelerator, which increases A500s and
A2000s from 7.14MHz to 28MHz.
"The SupraTurbo 28 grew out of customer demand," stated John
Wiley. "We have been selling peripherals products to Amiga
customers for years, and recently they've been telling us they
want their existing computers to run faster, without compromising
either their already-installed peripherals or their pocketbooks."
Here is a listing of products that Supra provides:
Amiga 500 products
Power PC Board, MS-DOS emulating hardware/software
SupraTurbo 28, 28MHz accelerator for the 68000
SupraRam 500, 1/2MB RAM with clock
SupraRam 500RX, 8MB Ram expansion board
SupraDrive 1MB floppy drive
SupraDrive 500XP, HardDrive and RAM expansion (various sizes)
Amiga 2000 products
SupraDrive Hard Disk (52 or 120MB)
WordSync SCSI Interface
SupraRam 2000, 8MB RAM expansion board
How to contact Supra Corporation:
7101 Supra Drive SW
Albany, OR 97321
Fax : 503-967-2401
Voice: +49 02232 22002
Fax : +49 02232 22003