Computer Co-op of America

Let's Roll !



Computer Co-op of America

1983 - 1985

Having just concluded my endeavor to introduce oil & gas companies to the Real Equip computerized multiple listing service for oil & gas equipment using a dial-up connection to the Internet, and knowing what was available at that time on the Internet, I contemplated how best to introduce consumers to the world of the Internet

In the early 1980's there were two dial-up connection providers, Telenet and Tymnet, providing local telephone numbers in approximately 750 cities around the world that you could call into from a modem and gain access to dozens of data centers, including some providing consumer oriented services. Of these data centers, there were three in particular, CompuServer (Owned by H&R Block), The Source (Owned by Reader's Digest) and Prodigy (Owned by Sears and IBM), which offered news, weather, e-mail accounts, and shopping services.  Personal computers were just beginning to emerge.  In the marketplace.  At that time the computers available which had a modem included the Commodor 64, TI-994A, Radio Shack Model IV, Timex Sinclair, IBM PC Jr and the Apple.  Computers were not yet in very widespread use due to a lack of applications making them much more than a hobbiest's gadget.

It was my belief that a business could be built on selling PC computers together with subscriptions to the on-line services as a family appliance.  The big problem was the technology was so new that to sell people on the idea required providing them with an education on how it all works.  The multi-level marketing organization, which I had been exposed to as an Amway distributor 10 years earlier, seemed like the ideal business model for this product.  Peer-to-peer selling would provide the level of support to break down the technological phobia.

At that time I had several friends and business connections who had expertise in sales, marketing, multi-level structure and I had the technical know-how.  Steve Durfee was a charismatic, ex-Wall Street stock broker, who could sell a fan to an Eskimo, Dick Schrum, an executive with Young & Rubicam, knew marketing better than anyone I've ever known, and Barry Black was a Double Diamond Distributor in Amway.  We incorporated at the beginning of 1983.

Computer Co-op of America Stock

We went to work structuring the multi-level system, sourcing out wholesale suppliers of the computers and creating the variety of marketing and operating collateral that would be necessary as a business Starter Kit for our distributors. Since multiple layers of independent distributors share the margins in the sales, tracking and reporting is much more complex than in a typical small business.   Below is the multi-part, carbonless order form that we created.  The input fields on the form correlated directly to our operating accounting software.

Computer Co-op Order Form

In the course of devising a means for making a margin on the sale of subscriptions to our end-users, I wanted to create a "portal" on the Internet, called, "InfoQuest - The IQ Network".   Our end-users would buy a subscription to IQ and our portal would provide access links to CompuServe, The Source, Prodigy, Dialog (a Rockwell International database), free government sites and others.  We would buy bulk subscriptions from those providers at a discounted rate.

All was moving forward when Dick Schrum passed away.  The rest of us lost our motivation to continue evolving the concept and I became engrossed in creating a business for Dick's family as a means of their future support.  Dick's wife had been a part-time seamstress at a local costume rental store and she wanted to open her own costume rental business.  I had wanted for many years to open a Novelty Gift and Magic shop.  Thus began the creation of Just For Laughs and my interest in pursuing CCA ended.  


| Home | Profile | Interests | Photos | Collections | Family | Contact me |

Copyright Sam Martin - All rights reserved.
Last updated May 11, 2012