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Oral-History:Jin Ku Kang

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== About Jin Ku Kang<br> ==
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== About Jin Ku Kang ==
  
Article Content Goes Here...  
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<p>After receiving his electronics and computer science degree in 1972, Jin Ku Kang began employment with the Korea Institute of Science and Technology, where his projects included calculator and electronic switching system development. KIST and Samsung joined to form Samsung-GTE Telecommunications for electronic switching equipment production, and the KIST switching project transferred to the new Samsung-GTE. From 1977 through 1980, Kang continued switching work at Samsung-GTE.&nbsp; From 1980 to 1982, Kang worked at Korea Electric Telecom, or Tetri, a predecessor to Etri. At this new company, created through governmental support, Kang worked on public switching system development and on software development, directing the switching system software development laboratory. In 1982, Kang worked at Trigent Computer; a private company manufacturing PCs; beginning in 1983 he worked at the new Trigent Microsystems computer workstation company. </p>
  
<br>
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<p>Kang describes the Korean government's role in electronic switching development. He details work at Samsung-GTE to develop an electronic switching system for the famed Hotel Shilla, describing the difficulties in this process. Kang describes other projects at Samsung-GTE, characterizes component availability during this era, and assesses electronic switching system sales. At the end of the interview, Kang describes Korean PC development, marketing, and sales. </p>
  
== About the Interview<br> ==
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== About the Interview ==
  
An Interview Conducted by: Andrew Goldstein, Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, 27 August 1996
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<p>An Interview Conducted by: Andrew Goldstein, Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, 27 August 1996 </p>
  
<br>Interview #315 for the Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Inc., and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
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<p>Interview #315 for the Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Inc. </p>
  
<br>
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== Copyright Statement  ==
  
== Copyright Statement<br> ==
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<p>This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center. </p>
  
This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.<br>
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<p>Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user. </p>
  
<br>
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<p>It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows: </p>
  
<br>Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, Rutgers - the State University, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user. <br><br>
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<p>JIN KU KANG, an oral history conducted in 1996 by Andrew Goldstein, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA. </p>
  
<br>
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== Interview  ==
  
It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:<br>JIN KU KANG, an oral history conducted in 1996 by Andrew Goldstein, IEEE History Center, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA. <br>
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<p>INTERVIEW: Jin Ku Kang </p>
  
<br>
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<p>INTERVIEWER: Andrew Goldstein </p>
  
== Interview<br> ==
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<p>DATE: 27 August 1996 </p>
  
INTERVIEW: Jin Ku Kang <br>INTERVIEWER: Andrew Goldstein<br>DATE: 27 August 1996<br>PLACE: Seoul, Korea<br>
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<p>PLACE: Seoul, Korea </p>
  
=== Education; Korea Institute of Science and Technology ===
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=== Education; Korea Institute of Science and Technology ===
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>I’m with Mr. Kang of Chi-Gem Microsystems, on August 27, in Seoul. Kang, can we begin with your education?<br>  
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<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br> '''Kang:'''<br>First of all, my English is so poor. I’m very sorry about that. Anyway, let me try. My major was electronics and computer science. And I completed my education in 1972. After that, I entered KIST, Korea Institute of Science and Technology.<br>  
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<p>I’m with Mr. Kang of Chi-Gem Microsystems, on August 27, in Seoul. Kang, can we begin with your education? </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Where did you go to school?<br>  
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<p>First of all, my English is so poor. I’m very sorry about that. Anyway, let me try. My major was electronics and computer science. And I completed my education in 1972. After that, I entered KIST, Korea Institute of Science and Technology. </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Hanjung [spelling?] University in Seoul. I was a researcher at the organization. My first project was development of a small size pocket calculator. That was a very long time ago, in 1972. Then we developed a desktop calculator, with a big size LED display.<br>  
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<p>Where did you go to school? </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Can you tell me how the project was organized? Who supported it, and how many people were working on it? Details about that?<br>  
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<p>Hanjung University in Seoul. I was a researcher at the organization. My first project was development of a small size pocket calculator. That was a very long time ago, in 1972. Then we developed a desktop calculator, with a big size LED display. </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Okay. Our main laboratory was the System Engineering Lab. Among them, four people were researchers. The other parties were a support group, like technicians, and like that. We finished the calculator development project in 1972.
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<p>Can you tell me how the project was organized? Who supported it, and how many people were working on it? Details about that? </p>
  
=== Electronic switching system development ===
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''
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<p><flashmp3>315 - kang - clip 1.mp3</flashmp3></p>
  
We started another project that was electronic switching system development, sponsored from Korean government. And the period of that project was only one year. At that time, nobody in Korea knows about the Western Electric ESS, Electronic Switching System. It really is a strategic product, over a big country like the United States, Japan, France and England. Anyway, we started that project, without any background, experience, or knowledge. And yet, we started. But finally we failed, because we couldn’t meet the schedule. After one year, our government, mostly the ministry of Communications, MOC, declared this project a failure.<br>  
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<p>Okay. Our main laboratory was the System Engineering Lab. Among them, four people were researchers. The other parties were a support group, like technicians, and like that. We finished the calculator development project in 1972. </p>
  
<br>
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=== Electronic switching system development  ===
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Let me get the years right. This began in 1974, is that right?<br>  
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>We started another project that was electronic switching system development, sponsored from Korean government. And the period of that project was only one year. At that time, nobody in Korea knows about the Western Electric ESS, Electronic Switching System. It really is a strategic product, over a big country like the United States, Japan, France and England. Anyway, we started that project, without any background, experience, or knowledge. And yet, we started. But finally we failed, because we couldn’t meet the schedule. After one year, our government, mostly the ministry of Communications, MOC, declared this project a failure. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>No, 1973.<br>  
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<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Let me get the years right. This began in 1974, is that right? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>In 1973, and then for one year?<br>  
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>No, 1973. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right. We returned the plant to the Korean government, but at that point it was too big, so big, for that organization, KIST, at that time. So the manager over that institute decided to rename the plant, so we could keep doing the development.<br>  
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<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>In 1973, and then for one year? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>The project manager at the Ministry of Communications?<br>  
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>That’s right. We returned the plant to the Korean government, but at that point it was too big, so big, for that organization, KIST, at that time. So the manager over that institute decided to rename the plant, so we could keep doing the development. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>No, at the institute, the President of the institute.<br>  
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<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>The project manager at the Ministry of Communications? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>He decided to keep funding your project, even though the funds from the Ministry of Communications were stopped?<br>  
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>No, at the institute, the President of the institute. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right.<br>  
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<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>He decided to keep funding your project, even though the funds from the Ministry of Communications were stopped? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>So, who was the manager at KIST?<br>  
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>That’s right. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>The actual manager was Man Young Chun. Anyway, so we can keep that project. And finally, fifteen months later, we finished with that project.<br>  
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<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>So, who was the manager at KIST? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Fifteen months after you started doing it on your own?<br>  
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>The actual manager was Man Young Chun. Anyway, so we can keep that project. And finally, fifteen months later, we finished with that project. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br> So there was another three months needed to finish that project, from the original schedule. Do you follow me?<br>  
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<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Fifteen months after you started doing it on your own? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>So it was a total of fifteen months, from the beginning? Not twenty-seven months?<br>  
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>So there was another three months needed to finish that project, from the original schedule. Do you follow me? </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right. And at that time we developed five different systems locally, Seoul, Hu San[?], De Cu[?], De Chung[?] and Pong[?]. That’s local big cities. And we installed that system. We made a network. And we can switch the old telephones.<br>  
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<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>So it was a total of fifteen months, from the beginning? Not twenty-seven months? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>But they weren’t connected to actual telephones?<br>  
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>That’s right. And at that time we developed five different systems locally, Seoul, Husan, Decu, Dechung and Pong. That’s local big cities. And we installed that system. We made a network. And we can switch the old telephones. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes, it was a really good system. No problems, no errors. During that time, we met GTE in America. The director of sales over KIST, he came to Korea, and he wanted to sell some PBX. And at that time, the manager over GTE, in Korea, he talked to him. “We already have the system you want to sell in Korea.” But, the director was really surprised. He understood that Korea could not make ESS, or PBX. So, they decide to come to KIST, and they looked and they investigated. Really, they can make a phone call. It’s a different city. But they asked the manager of that project, “How long does it take? How much did you pay for this project?”<br>  
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<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>But they weren’t connected to actual telephones? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br> To develop it?<br>  
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Yes, it was a really good system. No problems, no errors. During that time, we met GTE in America. The director of sales over KIST, he came to Korea, and he wanted to sell some PBX. And at that time, the manager over GTE, in Korea, he talked to him. “We already have the system you want to sell in Korea.” But, the director was really surprised. He understood that Korea could not make ESS, or PBX. So, they decide to come to KIST, and they looked and they investigated. Really, they can make a phone call. It’s a different city. But they asked the manager of that project, “How long does it take? How much did you pay for this project?” </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Right. “How many people involved?” He was not a specialist for the evaluation, for the project. He was only the sales person. So, he reported back to headquarters, and he needed some real evaluation specialists.<br>  
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<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>To develop it? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Some engineers to come look at it?<br>  
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Right. “How many people involved?” He was not a specialist for the evaluation, for the project. He was only the sales person. So, he reported back to headquarters, and he needed some real evaluation specialists. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>He brought around ten specialists. Hardware engineers, software engineers, mechanical engineers, and purchasing documentation, every area. And they really evaluated in more detail. And finally, they decided that KIST can be one partner for their new development.<br>  
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<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Some engineers to come look at it? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>So at this point, GTE was considering selling your system? They would buy the right to sell the system you had developed?<br>  
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>He brought around ten specialists. Hardware engineers, software engineers, mechanical engineers, and purchasing documentation, every area. And they really evaluated in more detail. And finally, they decided that KIST can be one partner for their new development. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right.<br>  
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<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>So at this point, GTE was considering selling your system? They would buy the right to sell the system you had developed? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>In the Far East?<br>  
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>That’s right. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes. But not the same one. They needed another system. <br>  
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<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>In the Far East? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>They wanted you to design a different system?<br>  
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Yes. But not the same one. They needed another system. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes, a different system.<br>  
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<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>They wanted you to design a different system? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>So they needed to see how good the one you had done was?<br>  
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Yes, a different system. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right. So finally, we made a contract between KIST and GTE to develop some PBX. At that time, I think it was 1973.<br>  
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<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>So they needed to see how good the one you had done was? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Can I interrupt you for just a second? Once you had successfully built the ESS, wasn’t the Ministry of Communications interested anymore?<br>  
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>That’s right. So finally, we made a contract between KIST and GTE to develop some PBX. At that time, I think it was 1973. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>No.<br>  
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<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Can I interrupt you for just a second? Once you had successfully built the ESS, wasn’t the Ministry of Communications interested anymore? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>No? Had they found different equipment, or did they simply abandon their plan to upgrade the phone switching system?<br>  
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>No. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>They had some special reason. But, I don’t say why they don’t like that system. Anyway, they don’t have any interest in the new system.<br>  
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<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>No? Had they found different equipment, or did they simply abandon their plan to upgrade the phone switching system? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Yes.<br>  
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>They had some special reason. But, I don’t say why they don’t like that system. Anyway, they don’t have any interest in the new system. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Anyway, so we finished with that project around 1977.<br>  
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<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Yes. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Designing the new system for GTE?<br>  
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>Anyway, so we finished with that project around 1977. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Actually, from 1974 to 1977. It was a three-year project.
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<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
 +
<p>Designing the new system for GTE? </p>
  
 +
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
=== Mini-computer control for electronic switching system ===
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<p>Actually, from 1974 to 1977. It was a three-year project. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''
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=== Mini-computer control for electronic switching system  ===
  
In the meantime, we developed our own mini-computer as a controller for the ESS. And that computer was the first model developed in Korea. It’s a really new, nice, good, good, mini-computer. And my job about that computer was to design the hardware, especially to develop data portion and micro-programming. And we developed a complete mini-computer. Using that mini-computer, we developed a perfect electronic switching system for the GTE.<br>  
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>In the meantime, we developed our own mini-computer as a controller for the ESS. And that computer was the first model developed in Korea. It’s a really new, nice, good, good, mini-computer. And my job about that computer was to design the hardware, especially to develop data portion and micro-programming. And we developed a complete mini-computer. Using that mini-computer, we developed a perfect electronic switching system for the GTE. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>What was the capacity of the system?<br>  
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<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>What was the capacity of the system? </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>At that time it was 500 lines. Small and medium size PBX. So we made a team, two groups, one is hardware and one is software. I was involved in the hardware team, the hardware group. And I designed many circuits. The mini-computer, and switching systems, many things.<br>  
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
 +
<p>At that time it was 500 lines. Small and medium size PBX. So we made a team, two groups, one is hardware and one is software. I was involved in the hardware team, the hardware group. And I designed many circuits. The mini-computer, and switching systems, many things. </p>
  
 +
=== KIST structure  ===
  
=== KIST structure ===
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<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>How many people were in the group at this point?<br>  
+
<p>How many people were in the group at this point? </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>The hardware group at that time was less than twenty. And for the software, maybe ten people. A very small organization.<br>  
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<p>The hardware group at that time was less than twenty. And for the software, maybe ten people. A very small organization. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>How big was KIST at this time?<br>  
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<p>How big was KIST at this time? </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes, that was KIST.<br>  
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<p>Yes, that was KIST. </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>All of KIST?<br>  
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<p>All of KIST? </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right.<br>  
+
<p>That’s right. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Was KIST doing other projects, or were the people at KIST doing other projects too, or was everybody working on the GTE?<br>  
+
<p>Was KIST doing other projects, or were the people at KIST doing other projects too, or was everybody working on the GTE? </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>GTE project. So around thirty persons. Thirty people. Ten in software, twenty in hardware. Including mechanical engineers, and power supply, and everything.<br>  
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<p>GTE project. So around thirty persons. Thirty people. Ten in software, twenty in hardware. Including mechanical engineers, and power supply, and everything. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>And not many people at KIST were working on other things?<br>  
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<p>And not many people at KIST were working on other things? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes. <br>  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
<br>  
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<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Were there were other big projects?<br>  
+
<p>Were there were other big projects? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes. But only thirty people were involved in the ESS development projects.<br>  
+
<p>Yes. But only thirty people were involved in the ESS development projects. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Then how many people were at KIST, total, at that time?<br>  
+
<p>Then how many people were at KIST, total, at that time? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Seven hundred.<br>  
+
<p>Seven hundred. </p>
  
 +
=== Collaborations of KIST and GTE  ===
  
 +
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
=== Collaborations of KIST and GTE ===
+
<p>GTE had a development contract with you, so they were paying your salaries? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br> GTE had a development contract with you, so they were paying your salaries?<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes.<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>While you were working for them? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>While you were working for them?<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes.<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Now, did GTE share technology with you, as you were developing the mini-computer? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Now, did GTE share technology with you, as you were developing the mini-computer?<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>No. They didn't provide any technology. We agreed that the specification was the specification of a switching system. That’s it. Anyway, so we developed that ESS project by ourselves. And after that project, the GTE development team found out that it’s very difficult to produce this system in United States, or other countries. And they did the other thing, the documentation. That documentation didn’t weaken in English, but most engineers don’t like the writing itself. Even in Korea. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>No. They didn't provide any technology. We agreed that the specification was the specification of a switching system. That’s it. Anyway, so we developed that ESS project by ourselves. And after that project, the GTE development team found out that it’s very difficult to produce this system in United States, or other countries. And they did the other thing, the documentation. That documentation didn’t weaken in English, but most engineers don’t like the writing itself. Even in Korea.<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So the documentation was not as good as GTE’s? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>So the documentation was not as good as GTE’s?<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>That’s right. They couldn't understand it. It's quite different in English. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right. They couldn't understand it. It's quite different in English.
+
=== Samsung-GTE Telecommunications  ===
  
 +
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
 +
<p>So, finally decided that this system should be produced in Korea. So they needed some partners. Not the development, but the manufacturing. So, finally they found out the partner was Samsung Electronics. And they made a joint company, Samsung-GTE Telecommunications. And all the work from Korea KIST is transported to the Samsung-GTE Telecommunications. </p>
  
=== Samsung-GTE Telecommunications ===
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''
+
<p>Is that in Su Awn? </p>
  
So, finally decided that this system should be produced in Korea. So they needed some partners. Not the development, but the manufacturing. So, finally they found out the partner was Samsung Electronics. And they made a joint company, Samsung-GTE Telecommunications. And all the work from Korea KIST is transported to the Samsung-GTE Telecommunications.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>That’s right. Not in Su Awn. In some other area. In Seoul, anyway. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Is that in Su Awn?<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Okay. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right. Not in Su Awn. In some other area. In Seoul, anyway.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Anyway, they asked not only the prototype and documentation and other works, but also they needed a key person, key technical engineers. So, I was picked and I went to GTE with many of my friends. That was April 1977 when we transferred to GTE, Samsung-GTE. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Okay.<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>And this was the first PBX system for sale, in Korea? </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Anyway, they asked not only the prototype and documentation and other works, but also they needed a key person, key technical engineers. So, I was picked and I went to GTE with many of my friends. That was April 1977 when we transferred to GTE, Samsung-GTE.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>That’s right. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>And this was the first PBX system for sale, in Korea?<br>
+
=== Switching system for Hotel Shilla  ===
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right.  
+
<p>When we went to Samsung, the top manager with that company asked us, “Please develop the special switching system for the hotel, Hotel Shilla.” Do you know Hotel Shilla? It’s the biggest hotel in Korea. </p>
  
=== Switching system for Hotel Shilla ===
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''
+
<p>Okay. </p>
  
When we went to Samsung, the top manager with that company asked us, “Please develop the special switching system for the hotel, Hotel Shilla.” Do you know Hotel Shilla? It’s the biggest hotel in Korea.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>In 1978 they opened that hotel, so it was only one year later. And the specification of that switching system was quite different from what we developed. We developed as just a general proportion ESS. But the hotel was quite different. Too many service features, and there were many. And the line capacity was quite big. Complex systems. At that time, the line capacity was 1,500, compared to only 500. So three times larger, bigger and only one year later. So, difficult, really almost impossible. So most of the people from the KIST, they said, “Impossible, we cannot.” He called the person over at KIST, and they push him, our team, to make a pretend version. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Okay.<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Who called KIST? Who was it who called? </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>In 1978 they opened that hotel, so it was only one year later. And the specification of that switching system was quite different from what we developed. We developed as just a general proportion ESS. But the hotel was quite different. Too many service features, and there were many. And the line capacity was quite big. Complex systems. At that time, the line capacity was 1,500, compared to only 500. So three times larger, bigger and only one year later. So, difficult, really almost impossible. So most of the people from the KIST, they said, “Impossible, we cannot.” He called the person over at KIST, and they push him, our team, to make a pretend version.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Man Young Chun. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Who called KIST? Who was it who called?<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Okay. But, at this point, you were at Samsung now, right? </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Man Young Chun.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>That’s right. But same answer from him. “It’s really impossible.” And he called GTE people. “I have this kind of plan. Please help me.” But the same answer, “You cannot. It’s impossible.” And finally he called us, the engineers, and he said, “Okay, this is our order to you. Please make an ESS for Hotel Shilla for the next year. There cannot be any arguments.” So then we start to develop a new, different type of switching system. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Okay. But, at this point, you were at Samsung now, right?<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>The one who made the order was Young? </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right. But same answer from him. “It’s really impossible.” And he called GTE people. “I have this kind of plan. Please help me.” But the same answer, “You cannot. It’s impossible.” And finally he called us, the engineers, and he said, “Okay, this is our order to you. Please make an ESS for Hotel Shilla for the next year. There cannot be any arguments.” So then we start to develop a new, different type of switching system.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. V. C. Lee is the Chairman of the Samsung group. A really big guy, and really powerful person. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>The one who made the order was Young?<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Lee Hee Chung? </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes. V. C. Lee is the Chairman of the Samsung group. A really big guy, and really powerful person.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>No. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Lee Hee Chung?<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>No. It doesn’t matter. So, it’s funny that somebody at Samsung first went to KIST, and only then came to GTE. Because GTE had the cooperative arrangement with Samsung, so I’m surprised that someone at Samsung went to KIST first, and only later came to you. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>No.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>No, let me explain. There’s KIST and GTE supports with some money for their switching system, and finished the development. Then finally they decided to make this system in Korea. They needed a partner, so they have Samsung. Samsung Electronics. And they made a joint venture company, Samsung and GTE. They became Samsung-GTE Telecommunications. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>No. It doesn’t matter. So, it’s funny that somebody at Samsung first went to KIST, and only then came to GTE. Because GTE had the cooperative arrangement with Samsung, so I’m surprised that someone at Samsung went to KIST first, and only later came to you.<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:'' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Now there’s the Shilla Hotel project. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>No, let me explain. There’s KIST and GTE supports with some money for their switching system, and finished the development. Then finally they decided to make this system in Korea. They needed a partner, so they have Samsung. Samsung Electronics. And they made a joint venture company, Samsung and GTE. They became Samsung-GTE Telecommunications. <br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>That’s right. We moved with this company. And actually, the Chairman of that group, the Samsung Group, Chairman V. C. Lee, made an order to make some special switching for the Hotel Shilla for the next year. And then we started a new project. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Now there’s the Shilla Hotel project.<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Okay. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right. We moved with this company. And actually, the Chairman of that group, the Samsung Group, Chairman V. C. Lee, made an order to make some special switching for the Hotel Shilla for the next year. And then we started a new project.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Some other group, they are producing the existing switching system. One is the development project, and another is the manufacturing. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Okay.<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Okay. And you’re in the development group. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Some other group, they are producing the existing switching system. One is the development project, and another is the manufacturing.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. Mostly I’m involved with the development. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Okay. And you’re in the development group.<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So you had one year. Now, do you know why the Hotel Shilla wanted to develop a new switching system? Couldn’t they buy it somewhere else? </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes. Mostly I’m involved with the development.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I don’t know why. Really, KIST was a national think tank. Most of the engineers at KIST were top-level engineers. And V. C. Lee can get good engineers from KIST, at least at that project. He really stimulated, and he had some confidence. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>So you had one year. Now, do you know why the Hotel Shilla wanted to develop a new switching system? Couldn’t they buy it somewhere else?<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I understand that. But I wondered why the Hotel Shilla didn’t just try to buy their system from someone who had already developed it? </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>I don’t know why. Really, KIST was a national think tank. Most of the engineers at KIST were top-level engineers. And V. C. Lee can get good engineers from KIST, at least at that project. He really stimulated, and he had some confidence.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>I understand that. But I wondered why the Hotel Shilla didn’t just try to buy their system from someone who had already developed it?<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>What you just told me was why Chairman Lee believed that they could do it. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>That’s right. Okay, Hotel Shilla, they really want tradition of style. Very old style. Shilla is Korea’s old dynasty. So she thinks most of the equipment should be made in Korea. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>What you just told me was why Chairman Lee believed that they could do it.<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>The Hotel wanted to have Korean equipment to contribute to their image. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right. Okay, Hotel Shilla, they really want tradition of style. Very old style. Shilla is Korea’s old dynasty. So she thinks most of the equipment should be made in Korea. .<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p><flashmp3>315 - kang - clip 2.mp3</flashmp3></p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>The Hotel wanted to have Korean equipment to contribute to their image.<br>  
+
<p>Good image. That’s right. Anyway, we really tried to develop that product, and after one year, we installed that system at the Hotel Shilla. Their system was not stable. There were some reasons. The person over Hotel Shilla, he asked the person over Samsung-GTE Telecommunications, “Please bring the system early.” Every meeting he asked. So, the person over Samsung-GTE Telecommunications asked us, “Please finish the product earlier, and then install earlier.” So really we were very hurried to shorten the period. We brought the system at the Hotel. But we found out, it’s not ready. And we are waiting until they finish all the decorations, the rooms, something like that. Then we will install the connections to all the lines and install the software, and something like that. But during that time there were some mistakes. Some pipeline was broken. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes, and it was a big problem. So we take out the machine, and wash it with soap or some other materials. So really ridiculous, right? And dry. And we re-installed. But, it was not stable, still not working. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Good image. That’s right. Anyway, we really tried to develop that product, and after one year, we installed that system at the Hotel Shilla. Their system was not stable. There were some reasons. The person over Hotel Shilla, he asked the person over Samsung-GTE Telecommunications, “Please bring the system early.” Every meeting he asked. So, the person over Samsung-GTE Telecommunications asked us, “Please finish the product earlier, and then install earlier.” So really we were very hurried to shorten the period. We brought the system at the Hotel. But we found out, it’s not ready. And we are waiting until they finish all the decorations, the rooms, something like that. Then we will install the connections to all the lines and install the software, and something like that. But during that time there were some mistakes. Some pipeline was broken.
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Was it not stable because of the water damage? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
Yes, and it was a big problem. So we take out the machine, and wash it with soap or some other materials. So really ridiculous, right? And dry. And we re-installed. But, it was not stable, still not working.<br>  
+
<p>That’s right. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Was it not stable because of the water damage?<br>  
+
<p>So it worked in the laboratory, but because this unit got soaked with water…? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right.<br>  
+
<p>Yes, we only had one machine. So we really spent much time to make a stable product. But finally, we replaced that system. Maybe six or seven months later. So anyway, we finished that product. And after that, we developed many different types of switching systems for military applications and many different types of applications. </p>
  
<br>
+
=== Samsung-GTE contracts  ===
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>So it worked in the laboratory, but because this unit got soaked with water…?<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>All of the development projects, did they help each other? Like, things you learned here, would help here? </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes, we only had one machine. So we really spent much time to make a stable product. But finally, we replaced that system. Maybe six or seven months later. So anyway, we finished that product. And after that, we developed many different types of switching systems for military applications and many different types of applications.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>That’s right. </p>
  
=== Samsung-GTE contracts  ===
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>All of the development projects, did they help each other? Like, things you learned here, would help here?<br>  
+
<p>So, Samsung-GTE had military contracts? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right.<br>  
+
<p>Yes. At that time the telecommunications business was mostly a monopoly, to some small number of companies, like GoldStar, OPC, and Tehan-Johnson. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>So, Samsung-GTE had military contracts?<br>  
+
<p>I don’t know that last one, Tehan? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes. At that time the telecommunications business was mostly a monopoly, to some small number of companies, like GoldStar, OPC, and Tehan-Johnson. <br>  
+
<p>Johnson is the cables. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>I don’t know that last one, Tehan?<br>  
+
<p>Okay. How do you spell Tehan Johnson? I’ve heard of the other companies, but not that one. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Johnson is the cables.<br>  
+
<p>Mostly three companies. And Samsung, they try, really they try to get into the telecommunications business. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Okay. How do you spell Tehan Johnson? I’ve heard of the other companies, but not that one.<br>  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Mostly three companies. And Samsung, they try, really they try to get into the telecommunications business.<br>  
+
<p>But mostly these three companies that protect it. But Samsung, finally they get into the PES system, the Private Exchange System, and still this is a public system, not the private, right? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Yes.<br>  
+
<p>You mean the systems made by GoldStar, OPC, and Tehan-Johnson were public systems, not private systems? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>But mostly these three companies that protect it. But Samsung, finally they get into the PES system, the Private Exchange System, and still this is a public system, not the private, right?<br>  
+
<p>That’s right. And they provided the PBX also. They were mostly the mechanical type of switching system, not electronics. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>You mean the systems made by GoldStar, OPC, and Tehan-Johnson were public systems, not private systems?<br>  
+
<p>So, when Samsung started to get into PBX, who did they sell it to? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right. And they provided the PBX also. They were mostly the mechanical type of switching system, not electronics.<br>
+
<p>Their market share was big. The major competition was Samsung and GoldStar. So, mostly Samsung succeeded in getting into new business. They got around 40 percent of the market share, in Korea. And the next step was getting into public switching system business. </p>
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Goldstein:'''<br>So, when Samsung started to get into PBX, who did they sell it to?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Kang:'''<br>Their market share was big. The major competition was Samsung and GoldStar. So, mostly Samsung succeeded in getting into new business. They got around 40 percent of the market share, in Korea. And the next step was getting into public switching system business.<br>
+
  
 
=== Components availability  ===
 
=== Components availability  ===
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>When you were developing the switching system for Shilla Hotel, or maybe before with KIST, did you have any special problems getting parts? For instance, were there any special conditions?<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>When you were developing the switching system for Shilla Hotel, or maybe before with KIST, did you have any special problems getting parts? For instance, were there any special conditions? </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Very bad. More than twenty years ago, the Korean trading system, especially international trading system, was so bad. And we tried to get minicomputers from the United States. It takes around seven or eight months to get the minicomputer. And same situation as the other components, major components. So, too late, too many complications. This was our problems, one of our problems. And also, we had no experience in the switching systems, and there was not any know-how, or technology. So really, we were starting from the zero place.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Very bad. More than twenty years ago, the Korean trading system, especially international trading system, was so bad. And we tried to get minicomputers from the United States. It takes around seven or eight months to get the minicomputer. And same situation as the other components, major components. So, too late, too many complications. This was our problems, one of our problems. And also, we had no experience in the switching systems, and there was not any know-how, or technology. So really, we were starting from the zero place. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>How did you try to make up for those problems? What things did you do to try to improve those problems, or get around them?<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>How did you try to make up for those problems? What things did you do to try to improve those problems, or get around them? </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>For the situation, the government, especially the Blue House, like the White House in Washington, is quite powerful. They supported the import of the major components. Even though, it took six months. But that was very helpful to us.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>For the situation, the government, especially the Blue House, like the White House in Washington, is quite powerful. They supported the import of the major components. Even though, it took six months. But that was very helpful to us. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>So, you could actually get President Park to help you import them when you needed them?<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So, you could actually get President Park to help you import them when you needed them? </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right. And mostly the technology was hard. We cannot have any references from other countries, like the United States, Japan or Germany. They are really protective.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>That’s right. And mostly the technology was hard. We cannot have any references from other countries, like the United States, Japan or Germany. They are really protective. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>So, those countries weren’t sharing?<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So, those countries weren’t sharing? </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>They don’t give any information. <br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>They don’t give any information. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>So you would listen, and then come home and try to build what you had heard about?<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So you would listen, and then come home and try to build what you had heard about? </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right. So anyway, that was a kind of the switching system history in Korea.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
 +
<p>That’s right. So anyway, that was a kind of the switching system history in Korea. </p>
  
 +
=== Switching system sales  ===
  
=== Switching system sales ===
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>The first switching system that you built at KIST, do you know who GTE could sell them to, and how many they sold?<br>  
+
<p>The first switching system that you built at KIST, do you know who GTE could sell them to, and how many they sold? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>I don’t know exactly. <br>  
+
<p>I don’t know exactly. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Was it a success though? Did GTE make money with them?<br>  
+
<p>Was it a success though? Did GTE make money with them? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>I cannot say. But Samsung, they made money. But GTE, I don’t know. Anyway, you can get more detailed information from Mr. Lee. He worked at Samsung Electronics. I don’t know the exact name. Anyway, Samsung was the research center. <br>  
+
<p>I cannot say. But Samsung, they made money. But GTE, I don’t know. Anyway, you can get more detailed information from Mr. Lee. He worked at Samsung Electronics. I don’t know the exact name. Anyway, Samsung was the research center. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>In the GTE-Samsung partnership, was GTE actively involved in managing it? Or, was it mostly Samsung management?<br>  
+
<p>In the GTE-Samsung partnership, was GTE actively involved in managing it? Or, was it mostly Samsung management? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Mostly Samsung. <br>  
+
<p>Mostly Samsung. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Can you continue the story about switching systems in Korea?<br>  
+
<p>Can you continue the story about switching systems in Korea? </p>
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Kang:'''<br>Okay. I spent three years in Samsung-GTE Telecommunications. We developed many switching systems, and we sell many switching systems in Korea. So Samsung can get around 40 percent of market share in Korea.
+
  
 +
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
 +
<p>Okay. I spent three years in Samsung-GTE Telecommunications. We developed many switching systems, and we sell many switching systems in Korea. So Samsung can get around 40 percent of market share in Korea. </p>
  
 
=== Korea Electric Telecom; public switching system development  ===
 
=== Korea Electric Telecom; public switching system development  ===
  
'''Kang:'''
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
 
+
And at the time, Samsung finally the company was supported from government.<br>  
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Maybe it was called KTC?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes, KTC.<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Goldstein:'''<br>A new company was formed, sort of by the government?<br>
+
 
+
<br>
+
 
+
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right.<br>  
+
  
<br>  
+
<p>And at the time, Samsung finally the company was supported from government. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Korea Telecom, is that it?<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Maybe it was called KTC? </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes, KTC. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>To take over the job that the Ministry of Communications used to do?<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>A new company was formed, sort of by the government? </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right, not the current KTC. The Bank of Industry was a major stockholder, and some government involved that company, they decide to hand over the private company. And there were many companies like OPC, [inaudible word], the main company tried to get that company. But finally Samsung was chosen.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>That’s right. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>I see. So this was a government function that was being privatized.<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Korea Telecom, is that it? </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right. <br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Being handed over to a private company. All these companies bid for it, and Samsung got it?<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>To take over the job that the Ministry of Communications used to do? </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right. And so Samsung has two markets. One is private switching system and another is the public switching system from this one.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>That’s right, not the current KTC. The Bank of Industry was a major stockholder, and some government involved that company, they decide to hand over the private company. And there were many companies like OPC, [inaudible word], the main company tried to get that company. But finally Samsung was chosen. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>The public switching system is just the phone systems for big cities?<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I see. So this was a government function that was being privatized. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right. And then, okay, for me, ‘72 to ’77 I worked for KIST.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>That’s right. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>From 1972 to 1977. Then from 1977 to 80?<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Being handed over to a private company. All these companies bid for it, and Samsung got it? </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Samsung. In 1980, I moved to another organization.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>That’s right. And so Samsung has two markets. One is private switching system and another is the public switching system from this one. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>To Etri.<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>The public switching system is just the phone systems for big cities? </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Early Etri. At that time, we didn’t call it Etri. It was Tetri, Korea Electric Telecom.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>That’s right. And then, okay, for me, ‘72 to ’77 I worked for KIST. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>The thing that turned into Etri?<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>From 1972 to 1977. Then from 1977 to 80? </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Samsung. In 1980, I moved to another organization. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>That’s from 1980 to 1982?<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>To Etri. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes. I was involved in public switching system development project at the Etri. And so, I was the head of switching system software development laboratory, for around three years. And then, I moved to Trigent Computer.
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Early Etri. At that time, we didn’t call it Etri. It was Tetri, Korea Electric Telecom. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
[End of tape 1, side a]
+
<p>The thing that turned into Etri? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>That’s right. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Can you tell me about what you were doing while you were at Etri, in 1980 to 1982? First of all, is Etri a private company, or is it government-sponsored?<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>That’s from 1980 to 1982? </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Government-sponsored.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. I was involved in public switching system development project at the Etri. And so, I was the head of switching system software development laboratory, for around three years. And then, I moved to Trigent Computer. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>So they were getting money from the government to develop a public switching system?<br>  
+
<p>[End of tape 1, side a] </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes. KIST is kind of integrated in areas, like electronics, mechanical, and in different areas. And around that time frame, they divided.<br>  
+
<p>Can you tell me about what you were doing while you were at Etri, in 1980 to 1982? First of all, is Etri a private company, or is it government-sponsored? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>KIST spun-off?<br>  
+
<p>Government-sponsored. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>As a spin-off to many different institutes. And electronics, another institute. Communications, another institute and so forth. And the communications was at Tetri. So most of the people in this Etri, or Tetri, were KIST. Anyway, I moved to the Etri, and we developed a new project from the previous to the public switching system. And mainly there are three laboratories. One is control and another one is analog. And then we had data control as well as software. And I was involved as head of this software group. There were really three people who headed the project. The other two guys were my classmates from college. And I was leading the laboratory, as a whole project manager.<br>  
+
<p>So they were getting money from the government to develop a public switching system? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>So you had these two jobs. <br>  
+
<p>Yes. KIST is kind of integrated in areas, like electronics, mechanical, and in different areas. And around that time frame, they divided. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>As manager of the whole. At that time, our people was a very small number. But finally, we were around forty persons.<br>  
+
<p>KIST spun-off? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Just in the software division?<br>  
+
<p>As a spin-off to many different institutes. And electronics, another institute. Communications, another institute and so forth. And the communications was at Tetri. So most of the people in this Etri, or Tetri, were KIST. Anyway, I moved to the Etri, and we developed a new project from the previous to the public switching system. And mainly there are three laboratories. One is control and another one is analog. And then we had data control as well as software. And I was involved as head of this software group. There were really three people who headed the project. The other two guys were my classmates from college. And I was leading the laboratory, as a whole project manager. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes, the software. Fifteen was from each company GoldStar, OPC, Samsung, or something like that. <br>  
+
<p>So you had these two jobs. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>When you say they were from these companies, were they employed by these companies and assigned to work at Etri?<br>  
+
<p>As manager of the whole. At that time, our people was a very small number. But finally, we were around forty persons. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right.<br>  
+
<p>Just in the software division? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>I see.<br>  
+
<p>Yes, the software. Fifteen was from each company GoldStar, OPC, Samsung, or something like that. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>For the technical transfer.<br>  
+
<p>When you say they were from these companies, were they employed by these companies and assigned to work at Etri? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>So, who owned the technologies developed at Etri if the employees came from many different companies?<br>  
+
<p>That’s right. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>The major holder was Etri.<br>  
+
<p>I see. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Right. So the people at Etri worked for different companies, is that right?<br>  
+
<p>For the technical transfer. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes. There were many major engineers that were Etri people. And some other engineers from other different companies. And we make one team, something like that.<br>  
+
<p>So, who owned the technologies developed at Etri if the employees came from many different companies? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Okay, so you were telling me about the public switching system that you developed there?<br>  
+
<p>The major holder was Etri. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right. And I finished that project, and we installed that machine to the Young In area, and we provided the real service. That was my final project at Etri.<br>  
+
<p>Right. So the people at Etri worked for different companies, is that right? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>How big was the system?<br>  
+
<p>Yes. There were many major engineers that were Etri people. And some other engineers from other different companies. And we make one team, something like that. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes.<br>  
+
<p>Okay, so you were telling me about the public switching system that you developed there? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>How big?<br>  
+
<p>That’s right. And I finished that project, and we installed that machine to the Young In area, and we provided the real service. That was my final project at Etri. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>At that time, around 1,000, something like that, 1,000 lines.
+
<p>How big was the system? </p>
  
 +
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
 +
<p>Yes. </p>
  
=== Trigent Computers; PC manufacturing and applications ===
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''
+
<p>How big? </p>
  
And then I moved to Trigent Computers, another private company. And at that time a few companies in Korea got into the PC business. Now PC was really a new item. And mostly they don’t know how to use something like that. It was really very hard to learn the PC business in Korea. Our government decided to try the PC business, or information industry, they were would have some educational PC product. But finally, 5,000 units for the PC were installed at the schools and office, something like that.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>At that time, around 1,000, something like that, 1,000 lines. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>So the government would pay to buy PCs to sort of stimulate--?<br>
+
=== Trigent Computers; PC manufacturing and applications  ===
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right.<br>  
+
<p>And then I moved to Trigent Computers, another private company. And at that time a few companies in Korea got into the PC business. Now PC was really a new item. And mostly they don’t know how to use something like that. It was really very hard to learn the PC business in Korea. Our government decided to try the PC business, or information industry, they were would have some educational PC product. But finally, 5,000 units for the PC were installed at the schools and office, something like that. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>But these would be Korean manufactured PCs?<br>  
+
<p>So the government would pay to buy PCs to sort of stimulate--? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes. So finally, five companies were selected for that project. And Trigent Computers was one of them.<br>  
+
<p>That’s right. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Do you know the others?<br>  
+
<p>But these would be Korean manufactured PCs? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>GoldStar, Samsung, Trigent, Johnson, [inaudible phrase].<br>  
+
<p>Yes. So finally, five companies were selected for that project. And Trigent Computers was one of them. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>What is this?<br>  
+
<p>Do you know the others? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Hanyo Sanyon[spelling?]. It’s a Korean company. <br>  
+
<p>GoldStar, Samsung, Trigent, Johnson, [inaudible phrase]. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>And what’s this?<br>  
+
<p>What is this? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Huson.[spelling?]<br>  
+
<p>Hanyo Sanyon. It’s a Korean company. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Now, did all these companies already have a PC designed? <br>  
+
<p>And what’s this? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>GoldStar and Samsung already had one.<br>  
+
<p>Huson. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>But, did Trigent?<br>  
+
<p>Now, did all these companies already have a PC designed? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Trigent? Our first model was a CPM from Japan. Shop model. And really no evident software, so nobody buy that machine, because cannot use. It was just the hardware.<br>  
+
<p>GoldStar and Samsung already had one. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Couldn’t it run any software written for CPM?<br>  
+
<p>But, did Trigent? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right. <br>  
+
<p>Trigent? Our first model was a CPM from Japan. Shop model. And really no evident software, so nobody buy that machine, because cannot use. It was just the hardware. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>You’re saying it had no software?<br>  
+
<p>Couldn’t it run any software written for CPM? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes. Software means, applicant software. CPM was inside.<br>  
+
<p>That’s right. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>CPM is the operating system.<br>  
+
<p>You’re saying it had no software? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes.<br>  
+
<p>Yes. Software means, applicant software. CPM was inside. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>So if your machine was a CPM machine, couldn’t it run any application?<br>  
+
<p>CPM is the operating system. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Mostly word processor, or Lotus 1-2-3, something like that. No, software at that time.<br>  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>You’re saying there was no software written for any CPM machine?<br>  
+
<p>So if your machine was a CPM machine, couldn’t it run any application? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>No, hardware and O/S for the CPM and application. There’s no software. For these, we can use this application. But the application was not there, like the word processor, the Korean version. <br>  
+
<p>Mostly word processor, or Lotus 1-2-3, something like that. No, software at that time. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>So, the applications didn’t exist in Korean?<br>  
+
<p>You’re saying there was no software written for any CPM machine? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes.<br>  
+
<p>No, hardware and O/S for the CPM and application. There’s no software. For these, we can use this application. But the application was not there, like the word processor, the Korean version. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Because they did exist for English.<br>  
+
<p>So, the applications didn’t exist in Korean? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes. So, Trigent moved to the Apple Computer. It is a CPM and Apple machine. So, when I joined the Trigent, they made Apple the compatible machine. The material cost was so high. And the production capacity was around 20 units per month. <br>  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Did you sell them only in Korea or for export?<br>  
+
<p>Because they did exist for English. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Only for Koreans. It was very small, just twenty units per month.<br>  
+
<p>Yes. So, Trigent moved to the Apple Computer. It is a CPM and Apple machine. So, when I joined the Trigent, they made Apple the compatible machine. The material cost was so high. And the production capacity was around 20 units per month. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>And you sold them to the government?<br>  
+
<p>Did you sell them only in Korea or for export? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes. <br>  
+
<p>Only for Koreans. It was very small, just twenty units per month. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Now, where did the applications for this machine, for the Apple machine, come from?<br>  
+
<p>And you sold them to the government? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>For this machine there are many applications for mostly English versions. But, more than the CPM machine. So, some users can use the Apple. Because some professors attending college in America used the Apple computer, so they needed the Apple computer. And even in Korea, some people can buy the Apple compatible machine. So, totally 5,000 units, the 1,000 units per company. Trigent got 1,000 unit PC project from the government. But the price of that PC was too low compared to the computer costs.  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>This included the PC, audiocassette, the manuals, the CRT screen, training, and the support, everything. A very big problem for Trigent. It’s a very small company. <br>  
+
<p>Now, where did the applications for this machine, for the Apple machine, come from? </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Well, how did Trigent get in with these big companies in this contract? How were they able to do that?<br>  
+
<p>For this machine there are many applications for mostly English versions. But, more than the CPM machine. So, some users can use the Apple. Because some professors attending college in America used the Apple computer, so they needed the Apple computer. And even in Korea, some people can buy the Apple compatible machine. So, totally 5,000 units, the 1,000 units per company. Trigent got 1,000 unit PC project from the government. But the price of that PC was too low compared to the computer costs. </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>This included the PC, audiocassette, the manuals, the CRT screen, training, and the support, everything. A very big problem for Trigent. It’s a very small company. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>There are many stories. Okay, Dr. Y.T. Lee, is really the Godfather of the Korean machine industry. He was really a famous person. He is Chairman of Trigent. And he made a proposal of that project.<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Well, how did Trigent get in with these big companies in this contract? How were they able to do that? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>The project was his idea?<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>There are many stories. Okay, Dr. Y.T. Lee, is really the Godfather of the Korean machine industry. He was really a famous person. He is Chairman of Trigent. And he made a proposal of that project. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes, to the government. And finally, the government takes his project. <br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>The project was his idea? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>What does Y.T. Lee do now?<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes, to the government. And finally, the government takes his project. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Currently he has many titles. He serves as chairman of Trigent and chairman of Korean Information Industry Society. <br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>What does Y.T. Lee do now? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>I see.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Currently he has many titles. He serves as chairman of Trigent and chairman of Korean Information Industry Society. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>And my job, as a new designer was to meet the price.<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>I see. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>They wanted you to design a new machine whose material cost was lower than the sales cost.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>And my job, as a new designer was to meet the price. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>That’s right. So, finally I designed a new system. But, it was compatible with current machine.<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>They wanted you to design a new machine whose material cost was lower than the sales cost. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>It was still Apple compatible.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>That’s right. So, finally I designed a new system. But, it was compatible with current machine. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Right. <br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>It was still Apple compatible. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>So this based on the 6502 processor?<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Right. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes. And the real MCs are like that.<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So this based on the 6502 processor? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>So, you got it down to $170.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. And the real MCs are like that. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>So we can make money. I hired many production engineers and production employees and produced many pieces, all day long and night and day. And it’s a lot. We finished delivery of 1,000 units. Think about that. Okay, actually, we started manufacturing from January.<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So, you got it down to $170. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Trigent had its own production equipment?<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So we can make money. I hired many production engineers and production employees and produced many pieces, all day long and night and day. And it’s a lot. We finished delivery of 1,000 units. Think about that. Okay, actually, we started manufacturing from January. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes. We got many increments and employees, and we produced many pieces. And we delivered the 1,000 units as a first company. After that, there was some boom for education PC. Every parents bought PCs for their children. <br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Trigent had its own production equipment? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>So, the project worked. <br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. We got many increments and employees, and we produced many pieces. And we delivered the 1,000 units as a first company. After that, there was some boom for education PC. Every parents bought PCs for their children. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes, as an education product. <br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So, the project worked. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Well, then Trigent moved to an IBM compatible?<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes, as an education product. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>After that we moved to the IBM PC.<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Well, then Trigent moved to an IBM compatible? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>When did that happen?<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>After that we moved to the IBM PC. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Late 1983.<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>When did that happen? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>So you had to start over again and design a new PC?<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Late 1983. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes. This is such a story, the Trigent computer. This was a tremendous venture for a small company.<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>So you had to start over again and design a new PC? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Where did the venture capital come from?<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Yes. This is such a story, the Trigent computer. This was a tremendous venture for a small company. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>KDIC, Korean Development . That’s our venture capital company. They put the money up for the project.<br>  
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Where did the venture capital come from? </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Because someone I spoke to yesterday told me that it’s hard to get venture capital in Korea.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>KDIC, Korean Development . That’s our venture capital company. They put the money up for the project. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''<br>Yes, it is. So, it was really a pioneer. And at the Trigent, I worked at the research center. I was the manager of technical planning and exporting. That’s why Trigent started the workstation business at that time.
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
 +
<p>Because someone I spoke to yesterday told me that it’s hard to get venture capital in Korea. </p>
  
 +
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
=== Trigent Microsystems ===
+
<p>Yes, it is. So, it was really a pioneer. And at the Trigent, I worked at the research center. I was the manager of technical planning and exporting. That’s why Trigent started the workstation business at that time. </p>
  
'''Kang:'''
+
=== Trigent Microsystems  ===
  
And 1983, they transformed the workstation business into Trigent Microsystems. That’s my new company. These are some brochures and the catalogues of our product. And this is our company overview.<br>  
+
<p>'''Kang:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>And 1983, they transformed the workstation business into Trigent Microsystems. That’s my new company. These are some brochures and the catalogues of our product. And this is our company overview. </p>
  
'''Goldstein:'''<br>Okay. Thank you for your time.
+
<p>'''Goldstein:''' </p>
  
<br>  
+
<p>Okay. Thank you for your time. </p>
  
[End of interview]<br><br>  
+
<p>[End of interview] </p>
  
<br>
+
[[Category:People and organizations|Kang]] [[Category:Engineers|Kang]] [[Category:Government|Kang]] [[Category:Corporations|Kang]] [[Category:Communications|Kang]] [[Category:Telephony|Kang]] [[Category:Telephone switching systems|Kang]] [[Category:Computers and information processing|Kang]] [[Category:Business, management & industry|Kang]] [[Category:Power, energy & industry application|Kang]] [[Category:Consumer electronics|Kang]] [[Category:Culture and society|Kang]] [[Category:Education|Kang]] [[Category:News|Kang]]

Revision as of 17:35, 28 March 2012

Contents

About Jin Ku Kang

After receiving his electronics and computer science degree in 1972, Jin Ku Kang began employment with the Korea Institute of Science and Technology, where his projects included calculator and electronic switching system development. KIST and Samsung joined to form Samsung-GTE Telecommunications for electronic switching equipment production, and the KIST switching project transferred to the new Samsung-GTE. From 1977 through 1980, Kang continued switching work at Samsung-GTE.  From 1980 to 1982, Kang worked at Korea Electric Telecom, or Tetri, a predecessor to Etri. At this new company, created through governmental support, Kang worked on public switching system development and on software development, directing the switching system software development laboratory. In 1982, Kang worked at Trigent Computer; a private company manufacturing PCs; beginning in 1983 he worked at the new Trigent Microsystems computer workstation company.

Kang describes the Korean government's role in electronic switching development. He details work at Samsung-GTE to develop an electronic switching system for the famed Hotel Shilla, describing the difficulties in this process. Kang describes other projects at Samsung-GTE, characterizes component availability during this era, and assesses electronic switching system sales. At the end of the interview, Kang describes Korean PC development, marketing, and sales.

About the Interview

An Interview Conducted by: Andrew Goldstein, Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, 27 August 1996

Interview #315 for the Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Inc.

Copyright Statement

This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.

Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:

JIN KU KANG, an oral history conducted in 1996 by Andrew Goldstein, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.

Interview

INTERVIEW: Jin Ku Kang

INTERVIEWER: Andrew Goldstein

DATE: 27 August 1996

PLACE: Seoul, Korea

Education; Korea Institute of Science and Technology

Goldstein:

I’m with Mr. Kang of Chi-Gem Microsystems, on August 27, in Seoul. Kang, can we begin with your education?

Kang:

First of all, my English is so poor. I’m very sorry about that. Anyway, let me try. My major was electronics and computer science. And I completed my education in 1972. After that, I entered KIST, Korea Institute of Science and Technology.

Goldstein:

Where did you go to school?

Kang:

Hanjung University in Seoul. I was a researcher at the organization. My first project was development of a small size pocket calculator. That was a very long time ago, in 1972. Then we developed a desktop calculator, with a big size LED display.

Goldstein:

Can you tell me how the project was organized? Who supported it, and how many people were working on it? Details about that?

Kang:

Okay. Our main laboratory was the System Engineering Lab. Among them, four people were researchers. The other parties were a support group, like technicians, and like that. We finished the calculator development project in 1972.

Electronic switching system development

Kang:

We started another project that was electronic switching system development, sponsored from Korean government. And the period of that project was only one year. At that time, nobody in Korea knows about the Western Electric ESS, Electronic Switching System. It really is a strategic product, over a big country like the United States, Japan, France and England. Anyway, we started that project, without any background, experience, or knowledge. And yet, we started. But finally we failed, because we couldn’t meet the schedule. After one year, our government, mostly the ministry of Communications, MOC, declared this project a failure.

Goldstein:

Let me get the years right. This began in 1974, is that right?

Kang:

No, 1973.

Goldstein:

In 1973, and then for one year?

Kang:

That’s right. We returned the plant to the Korean government, but at that point it was too big, so big, for that organization, KIST, at that time. So the manager over that institute decided to rename the plant, so we could keep doing the development.

Goldstein:

The project manager at the Ministry of Communications?

Kang:

No, at the institute, the President of the institute.

Goldstein:

He decided to keep funding your project, even though the funds from the Ministry of Communications were stopped?

Kang:

That’s right.

Goldstein:

So, who was the manager at KIST?

Kang:

The actual manager was Man Young Chun. Anyway, so we can keep that project. And finally, fifteen months later, we finished with that project.

Goldstein:

Fifteen months after you started doing it on your own?

Kang:

So there was another three months needed to finish that project, from the original schedule. Do you follow me?

Goldstein:

So it was a total of fifteen months, from the beginning? Not twenty-seven months?

Kang:

That’s right. And at that time we developed five different systems locally, Seoul, Husan, Decu, Dechung and Pong. That’s local big cities. And we installed that system. We made a network. And we can switch the old telephones.

Goldstein:

But they weren’t connected to actual telephones?

Kang:

Yes, it was a really good system. No problems, no errors. During that time, we met GTE in America. The director of sales over KIST, he came to Korea, and he wanted to sell some PBX. And at that time, the manager over GTE, in Korea, he talked to him. “We already have the system you want to sell in Korea.” But, the director was really surprised. He understood that Korea could not make ESS, or PBX. So, they decide to come to KIST, and they looked and they investigated. Really, they can make a phone call. It’s a different city. But they asked the manager of that project, “How long does it take? How much did you pay for this project?”

Goldstein:

To develop it?

Kang:

Right. “How many people involved?” He was not a specialist for the evaluation, for the project. He was only the sales person. So, he reported back to headquarters, and he needed some real evaluation specialists.

Goldstein:

Some engineers to come look at it?

Kang:

He brought around ten specialists. Hardware engineers, software engineers, mechanical engineers, and purchasing documentation, every area. And they really evaluated in more detail. And finally, they decided that KIST can be one partner for their new development.

Goldstein:

So at this point, GTE was considering selling your system? They would buy the right to sell the system you had developed?

Kang:

That’s right.

Goldstein:

In the Far East?

Kang:

Yes. But not the same one. They needed another system.

Goldstein:

They wanted you to design a different system?

Kang:

Yes, a different system.

Goldstein:

So they needed to see how good the one you had done was?

Kang:

That’s right. So finally, we made a contract between KIST and GTE to develop some PBX. At that time, I think it was 1973.

Goldstein:

Can I interrupt you for just a second? Once you had successfully built the ESS, wasn’t the Ministry of Communications interested anymore?

Kang:

No.

Goldstein:

No? Had they found different equipment, or did they simply abandon their plan to upgrade the phone switching system?

Kang:

They had some special reason. But, I don’t say why they don’t like that system. Anyway, they don’t have any interest in the new system.

Goldstein:

Yes.

Kang:

Anyway, so we finished with that project around 1977.

Goldstein:

Designing the new system for GTE?

Kang:

Actually, from 1974 to 1977. It was a three-year project.

Mini-computer control for electronic switching system

Kang:

In the meantime, we developed our own mini-computer as a controller for the ESS. And that computer was the first model developed in Korea. It’s a really new, nice, good, good, mini-computer. And my job about that computer was to design the hardware, especially to develop data portion and micro-programming. And we developed a complete mini-computer. Using that mini-computer, we developed a perfect electronic switching system for the GTE.

Goldstein:

What was the capacity of the system?

Kang:

At that time it was 500 lines. Small and medium size PBX. So we made a team, two groups, one is hardware and one is software. I was involved in the hardware team, the hardware group. And I designed many circuits. The mini-computer, and switching systems, many things.

KIST structure

Goldstein:

How many people were in the group at this point?

Kang:

The hardware group at that time was less than twenty. And for the software, maybe ten people. A very small organization.

Goldstein:

How big was KIST at this time?

Kang:

Yes, that was KIST.

Goldstein:

All of KIST?

Kang:

That’s right.

Goldstein:

Was KIST doing other projects, or were the people at KIST doing other projects too, or was everybody working on the GTE?

Kang:

GTE project. So around thirty persons. Thirty people. Ten in software, twenty in hardware. Including mechanical engineers, and power supply, and everything.

Goldstein:

And not many people at KIST were working on other things?

Kang:

Yes.

Goldstein:

Were there were other big projects?

Kang:

Yes. But only thirty people were involved in the ESS development projects.

Goldstein:

Then how many people were at KIST, total, at that time?

Kang:

Seven hundred.

Collaborations of KIST and GTE

Goldstein:

GTE had a development contract with you, so they were paying your salaries?

Kang:

Yes.

Goldstein:

While you were working for them?

Kang:

Yes.

Goldstein:

Now, did GTE share technology with you, as you were developing the mini-computer?

Kang:

No. They didn't provide any technology. We agreed that the specification was the specification of a switching system. That’s it. Anyway, so we developed that ESS project by ourselves. And after that project, the GTE development team found out that it’s very difficult to produce this system in United States, or other countries. And they did the other thing, the documentation. That documentation didn’t weaken in English, but most engineers don’t like the writing itself. Even in Korea.

Goldstein:

So the documentation was not as good as GTE’s?

Kang:

That’s right. They couldn't understand it. It's quite different in English.

Samsung-GTE Telecommunications

Kang:

So, finally decided that this system should be produced in Korea. So they needed some partners. Not the development, but the manufacturing. So, finally they found out the partner was Samsung Electronics. And they made a joint company, Samsung-GTE Telecommunications. And all the work from Korea KIST is transported to the Samsung-GTE Telecommunications.

Goldstein:

Is that in Su Awn?

Kang:

That’s right. Not in Su Awn. In some other area. In Seoul, anyway.

Goldstein:

Okay.

Kang:

Anyway, they asked not only the prototype and documentation and other works, but also they needed a key person, key technical engineers. So, I was picked and I went to GTE with many of my friends. That was April 1977 when we transferred to GTE, Samsung-GTE.

Goldstein:

And this was the first PBX system for sale, in Korea?

Kang:

That’s right.

Switching system for Hotel Shilla

Kang:

When we went to Samsung, the top manager with that company asked us, “Please develop the special switching system for the hotel, Hotel Shilla.” Do you know Hotel Shilla? It’s the biggest hotel in Korea.

Goldstein:

Okay.

Kang:

In 1978 they opened that hotel, so it was only one year later. And the specification of that switching system was quite different from what we developed. We developed as just a general proportion ESS. But the hotel was quite different. Too many service features, and there were many. And the line capacity was quite big. Complex systems. At that time, the line capacity was 1,500, compared to only 500. So three times larger, bigger and only one year later. So, difficult, really almost impossible. So most of the people from the KIST, they said, “Impossible, we cannot.” He called the person over at KIST, and they push him, our team, to make a pretend version.

Goldstein:

Who called KIST? Who was it who called?

Kang:

Man Young Chun.

Goldstein:

Okay. But, at this point, you were at Samsung now, right?

Kang:

That’s right. But same answer from him. “It’s really impossible.” And he called GTE people. “I have this kind of plan. Please help me.” But the same answer, “You cannot. It’s impossible.” And finally he called us, the engineers, and he said, “Okay, this is our order to you. Please make an ESS for Hotel Shilla for the next year. There cannot be any arguments.” So then we start to develop a new, different type of switching system.

Goldstein:

The one who made the order was Young?

Kang:

Yes. V. C. Lee is the Chairman of the Samsung group. A really big guy, and really powerful person.

Goldstein:

Lee Hee Chung?

Kang:

No.

Goldstein:

No. It doesn’t matter. So, it’s funny that somebody at Samsung first went to KIST, and only then came to GTE. Because GTE had the cooperative arrangement with Samsung, so I’m surprised that someone at Samsung went to KIST first, and only later came to you.

Kang:

No, let me explain. There’s KIST and GTE supports with some money for their switching system, and finished the development. Then finally they decided to make this system in Korea. They needed a partner, so they have Samsung. Samsung Electronics. And they made a joint venture company, Samsung and GTE. They became Samsung-GTE Telecommunications.

'Goldstein:

Now there’s the Shilla Hotel project.

Kang:

That’s right. We moved with this company. And actually, the Chairman of that group, the Samsung Group, Chairman V. C. Lee, made an order to make some special switching for the Hotel Shilla for the next year. And then we started a new project.

Goldstein:

Okay.

Kang:

Some other group, they are producing the existing switching system. One is the development project, and another is the manufacturing.

Goldstein:

Okay. And you’re in the development group.

Kang:

Yes. Mostly I’m involved with the development.

Goldstein:

So you had one year. Now, do you know why the Hotel Shilla wanted to develop a new switching system? Couldn’t they buy it somewhere else?

Kang:

I don’t know why. Really, KIST was a national think tank. Most of the engineers at KIST were top-level engineers. And V. C. Lee can get good engineers from KIST, at least at that project. He really stimulated, and he had some confidence.

Goldstein:

I understand that. But I wondered why the Hotel Shilla didn’t just try to buy their system from someone who had already developed it?

Kang:

Yes.

Goldstein:

What you just told me was why Chairman Lee believed that they could do it.

Kang:

That’s right. Okay, Hotel Shilla, they really want tradition of style. Very old style. Shilla is Korea’s old dynasty. So she thinks most of the equipment should be made in Korea.

Goldstein:

The Hotel wanted to have Korean equipment to contribute to their image.

Kang:

Good image. That’s right. Anyway, we really tried to develop that product, and after one year, we installed that system at the Hotel Shilla. Their system was not stable. There were some reasons. The person over Hotel Shilla, he asked the person over Samsung-GTE Telecommunications, “Please bring the system early.” Every meeting he asked. So, the person over Samsung-GTE Telecommunications asked us, “Please finish the product earlier, and then install earlier.” So really we were very hurried to shorten the period. We brought the system at the Hotel. But we found out, it’s not ready. And we are waiting until they finish all the decorations, the rooms, something like that. Then we will install the connections to all the lines and install the software, and something like that. But during that time there were some mistakes. Some pipeline was broken.

Yes, and it was a big problem. So we take out the machine, and wash it with soap or some other materials. So really ridiculous, right? And dry. And we re-installed. But, it was not stable, still not working.

Goldstein:

Was it not stable because of the water damage?

Kang:

That’s right.

Goldstein:

So it worked in the laboratory, but because this unit got soaked with water…?

Kang:

Yes, we only had one machine. So we really spent much time to make a stable product. But finally, we replaced that system. Maybe six or seven months later. So anyway, we finished that product. And after that, we developed many different types of switching systems for military applications and many different types of applications.

Samsung-GTE contracts

Goldstein:

All of the development projects, did they help each other? Like, things you learned here, would help here?

Kang:

That’s right.

Goldstein:

So, Samsung-GTE had military contracts?

Kang:

Yes. At that time the telecommunications business was mostly a monopoly, to some small number of companies, like GoldStar, OPC, and Tehan-Johnson.

Goldstein:

I don’t know that last one, Tehan?

Kang:

Johnson is the cables.

Goldstein:

Okay. How do you spell Tehan Johnson? I’ve heard of the other companies, but not that one.

Kang:

Mostly three companies. And Samsung, they try, really they try to get into the telecommunications business.

Goldstein:

Yes.

Kang:

But mostly these three companies that protect it. But Samsung, finally they get into the PES system, the Private Exchange System, and still this is a public system, not the private, right?

Goldstein:

You mean the systems made by GoldStar, OPC, and Tehan-Johnson were public systems, not private systems?

Kang:

That’s right. And they provided the PBX also. They were mostly the mechanical type of switching system, not electronics.

Goldstein:

So, when Samsung started to get into PBX, who did they sell it to?

Kang:

Their market share was big. The major competition was Samsung and GoldStar. So, mostly Samsung succeeded in getting into new business. They got around 40 percent of the market share, in Korea. And the next step was getting into public switching system business.

Components availability

Goldstein:

When you were developing the switching system for Shilla Hotel, or maybe before with KIST, did you have any special problems getting parts? For instance, were there any special conditions?

Kang:

Very bad. More than twenty years ago, the Korean trading system, especially international trading system, was so bad. And we tried to get minicomputers from the United States. It takes around seven or eight months to get the minicomputer. And same situation as the other components, major components. So, too late, too many complications. This was our problems, one of our problems. And also, we had no experience in the switching systems, and there was not any know-how, or technology. So really, we were starting from the zero place.

Goldstein:

How did you try to make up for those problems? What things did you do to try to improve those problems, or get around them?

Kang:

For the situation, the government, especially the Blue House, like the White House in Washington, is quite powerful. They supported the import of the major components. Even though, it took six months. But that was very helpful to us.

Goldstein:

So, you could actually get President Park to help you import them when you needed them?

Kang:

That’s right. And mostly the technology was hard. We cannot have any references from other countries, like the United States, Japan or Germany. They are really protective.

Goldstein:

So, those countries weren’t sharing?

Kang:

They don’t give any information.

Goldstein:

So you would listen, and then come home and try to build what you had heard about?

Kang:

That’s right. So anyway, that was a kind of the switching system history in Korea.

Switching system sales

Goldstein:

The first switching system that you built at KIST, do you know who GTE could sell them to, and how many they sold?

Kang:

I don’t know exactly.

Goldstein:

Was it a success though? Did GTE make money with them?

Kang:

I cannot say. But Samsung, they made money. But GTE, I don’t know. Anyway, you can get more detailed information from Mr. Lee. He worked at Samsung Electronics. I don’t know the exact name. Anyway, Samsung was the research center.

Goldstein:

In the GTE-Samsung partnership, was GTE actively involved in managing it? Or, was it mostly Samsung management?

Kang:

Mostly Samsung.

Goldstein:

Can you continue the story about switching systems in Korea?

Kang:

Okay. I spent three years in Samsung-GTE Telecommunications. We developed many switching systems, and we sell many switching systems in Korea. So Samsung can get around 40 percent of market share in Korea.

Korea Electric Telecom; public switching system development

Kang:

And at the time, Samsung finally the company was supported from government.

Goldstein:

Maybe it was called KTC?

Kang:

Yes, KTC.

Goldstein:

A new company was formed, sort of by the government?

Kang:

That’s right.

Goldstein:

Korea Telecom, is that it?

Kang:

Yes.

Goldstein:

To take over the job that the Ministry of Communications used to do?

Kang:

That’s right, not the current KTC. The Bank of Industry was a major stockholder, and some government involved that company, they decide to hand over the private company. And there were many companies like OPC, [inaudible word], the main company tried to get that company. But finally Samsung was chosen.

Goldstein:

I see. So this was a government function that was being privatized.

Kang:

That’s right.

Goldstein:

Being handed over to a private company. All these companies bid for it, and Samsung got it?

Kang:

That’s right. And so Samsung has two markets. One is private switching system and another is the public switching system from this one.

Goldstein:

The public switching system is just the phone systems for big cities?

Kang:

That’s right. And then, okay, for me, ‘72 to ’77 I worked for KIST.

Goldstein:

From 1972 to 1977. Then from 1977 to 80?

Kang:

Samsung. In 1980, I moved to another organization.

Goldstein:

To Etri.

Kang:

Early Etri. At that time, we didn’t call it Etri. It was Tetri, Korea Electric Telecom.

Goldstein:

The thing that turned into Etri?

Kang:

That’s right.

Goldstein:

That’s from 1980 to 1982?

Kang:

Yes. I was involved in public switching system development project at the Etri. And so, I was the head of switching system software development laboratory, for around three years. And then, I moved to Trigent Computer.

[End of tape 1, side a]

Goldstein:

Can you tell me about what you were doing while you were at Etri, in 1980 to 1982? First of all, is Etri a private company, or is it government-sponsored?

Kang:

Government-sponsored.

Goldstein:

So they were getting money from the government to develop a public switching system?

Kang:

Yes. KIST is kind of integrated in areas, like electronics, mechanical, and in different areas. And around that time frame, they divided.

Goldstein:

KIST spun-off?

Kang:

As a spin-off to many different institutes. And electronics, another institute. Communications, another institute and so forth. And the communications was at Tetri. So most of the people in this Etri, or Tetri, were KIST. Anyway, I moved to the Etri, and we developed a new project from the previous to the public switching system. And mainly there are three laboratories. One is control and another one is analog. And then we had data control as well as software. And I was involved as head of this software group. There were really three people who headed the project. The other two guys were my classmates from college. And I was leading the laboratory, as a whole project manager.

Goldstein:

So you had these two jobs.

Kang:

As manager of the whole. At that time, our people was a very small number. But finally, we were around forty persons.

Goldstein:

Just in the software division?

Kang:

Yes, the software. Fifteen was from each company GoldStar, OPC, Samsung, or something like that.

Goldstein:

When you say they were from these companies, were they employed by these companies and assigned to work at Etri?

Kang:

That’s right.

Goldstein:

I see.

Kang:

For the technical transfer.

Goldstein:

So, who owned the technologies developed at Etri if the employees came from many different companies?

Kang:

The major holder was Etri.

Goldstein:

Right. So the people at Etri worked for different companies, is that right?

Kang:

Yes. There were many major engineers that were Etri people. And some other engineers from other different companies. And we make one team, something like that.

Goldstein:

Okay, so you were telling me about the public switching system that you developed there?

Kang:

That’s right. And I finished that project, and we installed that machine to the Young In area, and we provided the real service. That was my final project at Etri.

Goldstein:

How big was the system?

Kang:

Yes.

Goldstein:

How big?

Kang:

At that time, around 1,000, something like that, 1,000 lines.

Trigent Computers; PC manufacturing and applications

Kang:

And then I moved to Trigent Computers, another private company. And at that time a few companies in Korea got into the PC business. Now PC was really a new item. And mostly they don’t know how to use something like that. It was really very hard to learn the PC business in Korea. Our government decided to try the PC business, or information industry, they were would have some educational PC product. But finally, 5,000 units for the PC were installed at the schools and office, something like that.

Goldstein:

So the government would pay to buy PCs to sort of stimulate--?

Kang:

That’s right.

Goldstein:

But these would be Korean manufactured PCs?

Kang:

Yes. So finally, five companies were selected for that project. And Trigent Computers was one of them.

Goldstein:

Do you know the others?

Kang:

GoldStar, Samsung, Trigent, Johnson, [inaudible phrase].

Goldstein:

What is this?

Kang:

Hanyo Sanyon. It’s a Korean company.

Goldstein:

And what’s this?

Kang:

Huson.

Goldstein:

Now, did all these companies already have a PC designed?

Kang:

GoldStar and Samsung already had one.

Goldstein:

But, did Trigent?

Kang:

Trigent? Our first model was a CPM from Japan. Shop model. And really no evident software, so nobody buy that machine, because cannot use. It was just the hardware.

Goldstein:

Couldn’t it run any software written for CPM?

Kang:

That’s right.

Goldstein:

You’re saying it had no software?

Kang:

Yes. Software means, applicant software. CPM was inside.

Goldstein:

CPM is the operating system.

Kang:

Yes.

Goldstein:

So if your machine was a CPM machine, couldn’t it run any application?

Kang:

Mostly word processor, or Lotus 1-2-3, something like that. No, software at that time.

Goldstein:

You’re saying there was no software written for any CPM machine?

Kang:

No, hardware and O/S for the CPM and application. There’s no software. For these, we can use this application. But the application was not there, like the word processor, the Korean version.

Goldstein:

So, the applications didn’t exist in Korean?

Kang:

Yes.

Goldstein:

Because they did exist for English.

Kang:

Yes. So, Trigent moved to the Apple Computer. It is a CPM and Apple machine. So, when I joined the Trigent, they made Apple the compatible machine. The material cost was so high. And the production capacity was around 20 units per month.

Goldstein:

Did you sell them only in Korea or for export?

Kang:

Only for Koreans. It was very small, just twenty units per month.

Goldstein:

And you sold them to the government?

Kang:

Yes.

Goldstein:

Now, where did the applications for this machine, for the Apple machine, come from?

Kang:

For this machine there are many applications for mostly English versions. But, more than the CPM machine. So, some users can use the Apple. Because some professors attending college in America used the Apple computer, so they needed the Apple computer. And even in Korea, some people can buy the Apple compatible machine. So, totally 5,000 units, the 1,000 units per company. Trigent got 1,000 unit PC project from the government. But the price of that PC was too low compared to the computer costs.

This included the PC, audiocassette, the manuals, the CRT screen, training, and the support, everything. A very big problem for Trigent. It’s a very small company.

Goldstein:

Well, how did Trigent get in with these big companies in this contract? How were they able to do that?

Kang:

There are many stories. Okay, Dr. Y.T. Lee, is really the Godfather of the Korean machine industry. He was really a famous person. He is Chairman of Trigent. And he made a proposal of that project.

Goldstein:

The project was his idea?

Kang:

Yes, to the government. And finally, the government takes his project.

Goldstein:

What does Y.T. Lee do now?

Kang:

Currently he has many titles. He serves as chairman of Trigent and chairman of Korean Information Industry Society.

Goldstein:

I see.

Kang:

And my job, as a new designer was to meet the price.

Goldstein:

They wanted you to design a new machine whose material cost was lower than the sales cost.

Kang:

That’s right. So, finally I designed a new system. But, it was compatible with current machine.

Goldstein:

It was still Apple compatible.

Kang:

Right.

Goldstein:

So this based on the 6502 processor?

Kang:

Yes. And the real MCs are like that.

Goldstein:

So, you got it down to $170.

Kang:

So we can make money. I hired many production engineers and production employees and produced many pieces, all day long and night and day. And it’s a lot. We finished delivery of 1,000 units. Think about that. Okay, actually, we started manufacturing from January.

Goldstein:

Trigent had its own production equipment?

Kang:

Yes. We got many increments and employees, and we produced many pieces. And we delivered the 1,000 units as a first company. After that, there was some boom for education PC. Every parents bought PCs for their children.

Goldstein:

So, the project worked.

Kang:

Yes, as an education product.

Goldstein:

Well, then Trigent moved to an IBM compatible?

Kang:

After that we moved to the IBM PC.

Goldstein:

When did that happen?

Kang:

Late 1983.

Goldstein:

So you had to start over again and design a new PC?

Kang:

Yes. This is such a story, the Trigent computer. This was a tremendous venture for a small company.

Goldstein:

Where did the venture capital come from?

Kang:

KDIC, Korean Development . That’s our venture capital company. They put the money up for the project.

Goldstein:

Because someone I spoke to yesterday told me that it’s hard to get venture capital in Korea.

Kang:

Yes, it is. So, it was really a pioneer. And at the Trigent, I worked at the research center. I was the manager of technical planning and exporting. That’s why Trigent started the workstation business at that time.

Trigent Microsystems

Kang:

And 1983, they transformed the workstation business into Trigent Microsystems. That’s my new company. These are some brochures and the catalogues of our product. And this is our company overview.

Goldstein:

Okay. Thank you for your time.

[End of interview]