Here is a newpaper article about TeleGrafix
that may be of interest to some of you.
You can see that Pat is a survivor in the
harsh business world, even when friends told him NO!
TeleGrafix Isn't Daunted By the Web's
By Peter Behr
Washington Post Staff
Monday, January 6 1997; Page F15
Imagine how communications pioneer Guglielmo
Marconi felt when radio came along to render his wireless
That's about where Patrick Clawson and his
colleagues at TeleGrafix Communications Inc. found
themselves several years ago when the World Wide Web burst
on the scene.
At the time, TeleGrafix's RIPscrip software
was favored by thousands of computer bulletin board
operators across the country as a fast, easy method for
dressing up subscribers' computer screens with artwork,
logos and other adornments.
Then came the Web explosion in 1994,
offering a sexy new way to transmit not only text -- but
also video, sounds and point-and-click commands -- over the
Internet. Suddenly, anything that wasn't on the Web and
created with its unique software technology seemed passe.
Bulletin board operators began attaching
themselves to the Web and RIPscrip sales withered.
"It was a tidal wave," said Clawson, a
broadcasting industry veteran who had purchased a large
stake in TeleGrafix in 1994 and become its president and
chief executive, just as the wave struck.
Now TeleGrafix is trying for a comeback. On
Dec. 25 the Winchester, Va., firm released a product on
which its hopes are pinned, a test version of a RIPscrip
package that lets Internet users tap into university and
government databases using simple, eye-catching Web-like
graphics and commands.
Many of these big computer systems have been
linked to the Internet for years. But they have not been
easily reached via the Web because of the high cost of
converting the systems to the Web format, Clawson said.
Moreover, even if there are connections, the
Web merely takes users to the doorway of these older data
storehouses. Many of today's new Web aficionados would be
lost inside, because difficult "telnet" computer technology
commands must be typed to search for files, copy information
and carry out other tasks.
TeleGrafix's new product, RIPtel Visual
Telnet, is meant to correct that problem. You don't need to
know the commands; everything is reduced to point-and-click
The $9.95 RIPtel browser version goes on
users' machines. The institution maintaining the database
also needs special software, called RIPaint, which costs
$49.95. Copies can be ordered over TeleGrafix's Web site at
A commercial version of RIPtel should be
ready in February, he added. Making a viable business out of
this will be an uphill struggle because of the Web's
burgeoning popularity, some experts said.
"They've been overtaken," said Kristina
Kowitz, software manager at CompUSA's computer store in
Vienna. Most newcomers to the Internet are learning the
basics, not digging into sophisticated databases, she said.
RIP software "might make sense" for older
systems on the Internet, said Marc S. Usem, an industry
analyst with Salomon Brothers Inc., who has yet to review
TeleGrafix's products. But that's not where the future
lies. "It's the Web."
But the small company, owned by Clawson and
two founders, chugs on.
Launched in Huntington Beach, Calif., the
company has moved to Winchester, near Clawson's Berryville,
Clawson has been financing some expenses
with his personal funds and credit card accounts. The
pressures can be horrendous.
The new software's speed and efficiency will
help it catch on, said Jeff Reeder, who left computer maker
AST Research Inc. in California to become one of
TeleGrafix's founders in 1992 and remains a key technical
Current technology on the Web transmits
certain types of images as many thousands of colored dots,
one by one. This means lengthy waits for the Web user while
all those dots arrive. RIPscrip instead transmits formulas
for drawing images. The formulas are translated by the
users' computer into colored geometric shapes on the screen.
Rather than, say, sending every dot that
makes up the border in a company's logo, a Web site would
transmit a formula saying, in effect, draw a rectangle of
such-and-such size and color and put in such-and-such place
on the screen.
It's not a good way to ship detailed photos
over the Net, but it's fine for graphics and text, Reeder
said, and much faster. An image that requires 80,000 bits
to reproduce in a Web format can be drawn with just 4,000
bits using RIPscrip, Clawson said.
The new RIP software offers a full palette
of colors, multiple text windows, mouse-clickable buttons
and accommodates photos in its windows.
Despite RIPscrip's advantages, Clawson said,
he has had a terrible time finding outside funding. "We've
had, to date, over 100 companies slam the door in our face,"
he said. A dozen media and computer company executives he
counted as friends turned him down, he added. "Myopia," he
But he has found support in two widely
separated places. Japan's Ministry of International Trade
and Industry has put $700,000 into creating a Japanese
version of RIPscrip, to open further the Internet to
And Winchester had selected TeleGrafix as
the first official tenant in its "CyberStreet Technology
Zone," a part of the city's historic downtown equipped with
advanced telecommunications facilities and earmarked for
Once approved as tenants in the zone,
companies are eligible for tax abatement and reduced utility
"We're paying half as much as in Huntington
Beach, for twice the space," Clawson said.
Now, Clawson said, he needs sales, not just
support. The challenge is to find a niche of users who want
to tap the specialized information inside university and
government databases and who are eager to have an
appealing, graphical alternative to the old Telnet
commands, he acknowledged. Then these users need to
persuade system operators to adopt RIP commands.
Otherwise, they may just have built a better
� Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company