As one can imagine, being in business over 40 years, let alone doing anything for 40 years, comes along with its share of stories. Many of those directly shaping the company we are today and our pursuit of the highest level of customer service possible. Without you, our customers, there would be no stories, so we’d like to say thanks by sharing a little more about how it all began. Enjoy!
The early days…
Our story begins in 1971 with the founding of International Systems Marketing (ISM). Back then, IT security was not even a word, let alone an industry, though the technology revolution was in full swing. Our founder, Norm Young, having served a number of years prior as a sales leader for UNIVAC, which sold computer systems that used to take up an entire office floor, decided to go out on his own and embark on a 4-year journey traveling back and forth between the US and overseas, setting up US IT companies in Europe. For any of you customers that have always wondered where the “International” came from in our name, now you know. Considering we haven’t worked with anyone overseas since then, we tend to use our DBA name, ISM (each letter pronounced individually), to keep things simple.
Late 70s to mid-80s…
After four years of what must have been a terrible time traveling to all of the top cities in Europe, ISM decided to stay in the US and focus on the burgeoning market of “normal-sized” IT hardware. With major companies and governments embracing more technology, printers and other hardware devices were becoming more ubiquitous, so we set off on a path to reselling hardware and then taking a larger leap into manufacturing our own portable computer; back then known as the luggable (though a 40-pound device doesn’t sound very “luggable”).
With a team of 65, ISM decided to take on the big guys such as IBM and HP to compete in the luggable space. After Compaq obtained a patent on doubling the amount of “swipes” across the screen to bring the pixels closer together, we figured our only way of competing was to go with a color screen. Working with IT&T, ISM developed a graphics card for a color monitor. At the time, no manufacturer had a color monitor on their computer, but a company out of Japan, called Matsushita, had three color screen prototypes – the only ones in the world at that time. Hearing this, ISM reached out to Matsushita, though it was a tough conversation as ISM did not have any Japanese speakers and Matsushita executives did not understand English very well. When we said I-S-M, they heard I-B-M, so they agreed to fly out one of their prototypes to New York and chauffeured it down to our offices in Maryland. After learning that we were I-S-M and not I-B-M, they were understandably upset, though we ended selling a few thousand units, which made them happy. Thus, that is how ISM had the first color screen luggable in the world. (Story Note: Microsoft charged $250K back then for their OS and it didn’t matter if you were a 65 person shop like ISM or a behemoth like IBM – rough.)
Toward the mid-80s, the Japanese came in and taught all of the US manufacturers a lesson by dumping their computers on the US market, selling them at the cost of what many US manufacturers paid to build their systems. A number of companies went bankrupt to be never heard from again, but ISM fought it out and changed direction from manufacturing to focusing solely on reselling hardware and software with our own implementation services. Shortly after, we got into the just blossoming IT security market.
Late 80s thru current day…
Our first foray into IT security was in 1988 with a hardware firewall manufactured by Raptor, which was then acquired by Axent and then, again, by Symantec. As the firewall business exploded, ISM became a top 3 reseller and integrator of firewall systems in the world and, thus, our view and understanding of the need for IT security led us to being a security focused and minded group to the current day, bringing leading edge security solutions and services to our customers.
We are honored to have the experience of working with some of the best security companies and minds in the world over the past 25 years and look forward to many more years of dedicating ourselves to security, but we couldn’t have done it without our customers; for that we say “Thank you!”
Chris Young, President