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Golden Forest Software

Golden Forest Software History

Short Version

Golden Forest Software was formed effective January 1, 2015 when it purchased the font and signature business of Rylex Consulting, LLC which had purchased all of the assets of MicroWorks, Inc. on December 31, 2013.  

Long Version

MicroWorks, Inc. was established in 1995.  Like many software companies it was a very small company and initially earned its revenue by having its officers work on contracts for other companies.   The first 3 employees at MicroWorks were all previously employed by the Hewlett-Packard Company where we worked on the LaserJet printers.  This was an amazingly successful business for HP, and it came in through the back door.  Canon and HP had worked together on an old style printer, the 2680A, also called “EPOC”.  It was introduced in 1980.  The name came from the phrase “Electrophotographc Printing On Computer”.  Yes, the acronym is a bit of a stretch, but that was in the days when nerds loved acronyms.  It used a laser to form the characters being printed instead of having a physical character struck against a ribbon to leave a mark on the paper.  (You know, like the old typewriters, only much bigger and faster.)  The printouts were the old style where all of the characters were neatly lined up in rows and columns and all were printed using the same font. It used fan fold paper (aka green bar paper) and was intended to be used only on the HP 3000 computer systems.  The 2680A sold for $108,500.

Then something exciting happened.  Canon developed a new laser printer and was looking for a way to market it.  The decision to work with HP was probably based on the previous work done on the EPOC.  Canon brought the printer to HP.  HP provided marketing and sales for the printer, testing the printer to identify problems for Canon to resolve, and the PCL language that defined how commands could be sent to the printer to control what was printed.  PCL included commands to change the size of the characters being printed, the font being used to print the characters, the orientation of the characters (portrait and landscape) and the exact position on the page for each character to be printed.  Earlier printers like the EPOC would just sent data to print with very little use of any formatting commands.  This was back in the days when personal computers were just making their entrance and HP was late to the party.  The folks at HP made the decision to break with the past and sell the new LaserJet printer to run with anybody’s PC.  Before this HP printers would only work with HP computer systems.  This was a gutsy call that proved to be inspired.  HP’s marketing folks reached out to software developers and taught them how to use the PCL language to format pages to be printed.  This was back in the DOS days, before operating systems like “Windows” had a printer-independent way for developers to format a document to be printed.  Every different manufacturer had a different printer language.  HP’s efforts were very successful, and when developers were deciding which printer languages to use.  HP’s PCL was routinely selected as one of the languages chosen.  It was so widely used that other printer manufacturers started using PCL as a language that their printers would support.  If a developer wanted to use a font that wasn’t included with the printer, HP had a product called a “font cartridge” that could  be plugged into a slot on the printer and add more fonts.  These fonts included barcodes of many varieties. HP also provided a service whereby they would allow customers to create fonts that produced signatures and logos.

HP’s testing of the LaserJet printer was critical.  By identifying problems in the design and passing that information to Canon the issues were resolved before the production version of the printer was released.  This greatly reduced the warranty costs that would have sunk the project.  Over time more and more printers were tested.  If the pages printed were stacked one on top of another the monthly pile would have been more than 2 miles high.  Eventually MicroWorks got a contract from HP to provide software to manage the testing of printers.  Before this the testing involved many manual operations which were slow and which introduced many errors into the testing data.  The test suite is called Quartz.  The name came from the paradigm change in watch making.  For generations watches used balance springs to measure time.  When quartz crystals came onto the scene many watch makers were slow to change their designs to use the new method.  MicroWorks was pitching the importance of moving from a manual printer testing system to a computer controlled testing system.

The LaserJet phenomenon has a huge impact on the HP site in Boise.  More buildings were added and more people were hired.  Not all of HP sites were enjoying the same success.  This was back in the days when Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard were still alive and had a hand in running the company.  People employed by HP believed that they would work for the company for their entire professional career.  To provide employment for some underutilized employees, HP moved the font business from Boise to Corvallis.  This group sold parts that could be added to printers to allow them to print additional fonts.  The business was moved, but no software engineers were transferred.  When new parts were needed there were no resources in Corvallis to create them.  Since MicroWorks had its foot in the door it was able to earn the ability to provide the software engineering to support the font group in Corvallis.  MicroWorks wrote software tools which are used it creating and modifying fonts.  This included modifying TrueType fonts so that they could be sold as after market fonts for the LaserJet printers.  MicroWorks also provided the technical support for the font group and wrote the technical documentation that accompanied font products.  

Over time the high level managers at HP made changes in their policies regarding contracting with outside companies.  At one time HP had contracts with more than a thousand different IT companies.  To simplify the interaction between their purchasing department and these companies it was decided to drastically reduce the number of suppliers.  Every year there was a new goal set for how many of those companies would continue to receive contracts.  MicroWorks had its contracts cut again and again until the Quartz system was all that remained.  The testing of printers was of sufficient importance that HP could not risk giving the maintenance of the system to one of their preferred providers.  The HP font group in Corvallis was laid off and the font business was assigned to a major German IT supplier.  MicroWorks continued to support the hundreds of customers that had come to appreciate the expertise provided.

On December 31, 2013 Rylex Consulting, LLC purchased all of the assets of MicroWorks, Inc.  Joel Gyllenskog works half-time during 2014 to transition the products and customers to Rylex and to train employees in how to run the font business.  Late in 2014 the employees who was been trained in the production and support of fonts took a jobs at another entities.  The owners of Rylex were not interested in putting a lot of effort into that portion of the business, and sold the font business back to Joel effective January 1, 2015.  Golden Forest Software was organized to run that business and provide support to the many MicroWorks customers who continue to have needs for custom signatures and barcode products.