788T: the beast arrives! – 2008

The 788T was a phoenix rising out of the ashes of our ill-fated rack-recorder. Well, this and the IBC 2007 show. At this tradeshow, I saw that there were several very compelling competitive recorders being introduced — and I was getting badgered by many dealers and users about doing a 6-channel audio recorder (which seems so quaint now!) On the flight back from Amsterdam, I drew up the product design and architecture for the 788T. This product went from my paper sketch to shipping in 7 months, which is sort of unreal (normal product development is more like 1-2 years). The hardware of this product was done by me (all circuitry), Jason McDonald (all mechanicals) and Dan Fuller (PCB layout). Dan reminded me recently that right before release, we discovered noise from the HDD motors was getting into the mic preamps (low impedance circuitry like mic preamps is especially susceptible to magnetic flux, which HDD motors excel at spitting out). I pulled an all-nighter to redesign all of the mic preamps and shove them into the corner of the unit which had no stray flux. Then Jason pulled an all-nighter to redo mechanicals, to squeeze the board above the XLRs. Dan pulled an all-nighter to lay the PCB out, and we paid (through the nose) for a 1-day turn on the raw boards, then our PCB house in Minnesota did a 1-day turn on populating the boards. Voila! In less than a week, we had this problem licked and we were able to show the 788T at NAB and start shipping. Several of my firmware team were ready to quit after that intense experience, so I turned management of the firmware team over to Paul Isaacs (Product Development) after it shipped, who was less abrasive than yours truly. The 788T you all know and love was fairly spartan — feature-wise — at first, and I credit Paul with all of the features that he added later, which really made it a huge success.”