Milestones and Highlights

2016

Electro-Harmonix reissues the "Super Space Drum", originally invented and designed by Julia in 1980, with its original circuitry. US Patents 9,245,510, "Electronic Cymbal Trigger", 9,263.012, "Cymbal Striking Surface" issue. Z-Temp™ enters its second year of production.  Z-Temp introduces its ZT-HE hot end, broadening the Zortrax™ M200's materials compatibility to include almost all commonly-used filaments. PolyMaker unveils the "Polysher™" print-smoothing system, designed in large part by PDI; the project goes on to raise more than $400,000 on Kickstarter. Julia's game "Power Quest" (originally known as "Freeze Out"), licensed to  French toy manufacturer Dujardin, is awarded First Prize in the Action Games Category by LSA magazine. In the second half of 2016, Z-Temp rounds out its product line with two new offerings: the Z-Sense bed height control and the Z-Mon filament monitor. PDI’s mechanical innovativeness, materials expertise, and prototyping capabilities are key to the development of a new food packaging concept. Julia designs circuitry and mechanical elements for GeniCan™, an internet-connected household barcode scanner and inventory control device. Julia solves a tricky 1.3GHz RF immunity problem for a medical device maker and a radiated emissions problem in a large paper-processing machine. PDI becomes a Microchip Authorized Design Partner.

2015

PDI designs, manufactures, and markets the Z-Temp™, an extrusion temperature control accessory for the Zortrax M200 3D printer. Julia is retained by a prominent manufacturer of 3D printing filaments to develop a new appliance. Julia provides EMC mitigation services to two different manufacturers of audiophile equipment, and an electronic game she invented is licensed to a French toy company. U.S. Patent 8,940,994, "Illuminated On-Contact Cymbal Pickup" is issued. Electro-Harmonix reissues the Crash Pad percussion synthesizer, with its original circuitry, originally invented and designed by Julia in 1979. PDI is retained by PolyMaker LLC to develop its revolutiionary 3D print post-processing machine, the "Polysher".

2014

The Gen-16 Direct Source pickup is named "Best New Product" of 2013" by Digital Drummer Magazine. PDI is selected by TUV Rheinland of North America as a recommended vendor for EMC mitigation services. Julia provides electronics development services to Zeepro, a French 3D printer manufacturer, and solves EMC problems for several large industrial companies. Julia develops and prototypes electromechanical dispensing equipment for Buzz Products Ltd. of Melbourne, Australia. Electro-Harmonix reissues the legendary Clockworks rhythm controller, with its original circuitry, originally invented and designed by Julia in 1980. U.S. Patents 8,872,015, "Cymbal Transducer Using Electret Accelerometer" and 8,729,378, "Non-Contact Cymbal Pickup Using Multiple Microphones" are issued.

2013

PDI creates automated production line test equipment for the Direct Source sensor and pickup, and begins work on new Gen-16 products. U.S. Patent 8,497,418, "System and Method for Electronic Processing of Cymbal Vibrations" is issued.

2012

Julia invents and perfects the revolutionary "Direct Source" cymbal transducer, completely eliminating feedback and crosstalk in the AE Cymbal system, while at the same time improving sound quality. The Gen-16 AE Cymbal System wins Electronic Musician Magazine's Editor's Choice award for "Most innovative drum product in 400 years."

2011

The Gen-16 AE Cymbal System is introduced at the Winter NAMM trade show in January, and garners the "Best in Show, Drums and Percussion" award. In February it wins "Most Innovative Product, Drums and Percussion" and "Most Innovative Product" at the Frankfurt MusikMesse. PDI oversees environmental, electromagnetic, and safety compliance certification for global distribution in over 50 countries, and supervises production ramp-up in Asia. After initial production has begun, PDI designs and builds custom automatic test equipment to reduce product testing time five-fold and improve quality control.

2010

PDI begins development of Zildjian's groundbreaking new hybrid acoustic-electric "Gen-16 AE Cymbal System". PDI manages product development while co-inventing the system's core transducer and designing its hardware, firmware, and desktop support software. The product goes from concept to off-tool working samples in just seven months.

2009

Julia returns to the USA and begins consulting for The Avedis Zildjian Co., one of the world's oldest privately-held corporations and one of the music industry's most revered and respected brands. PDI designs a new electronic drum kit for Zildjian incorporating a distributed processing network of fifteen 16-bit microntrollers collecting real-time performance data from over one hundred pressure sensors.

2007 - 2008

Julia consults full-time on-site at Spin Master Ltd. of Toronto, Ontario as Senior Manager, Product Development. Responsible for all electronic product development company-wide, she is also a member of the Girl Crush™ and Air Hogs™ brand teams and designs the new Air Hogs' Wellington Street product development lab.

2006

Wild Planet Toys introduces "Mazu Kan", PDI's exciting two-player action game invented by Julia.

2005

The MicroJammers line of miniature musical instruments is reintroduced by KidzToyz.

2004

"Lullaby Baby", co-developed by PDI, is MGA's lead promotional doll.

2002

PDI's innovative "SoundWaves" musical gloves are licensed by GoodStuff and sold through Sharper Image stores nationwide.

2001

Hoppity Bouncy Baby, co-invented by Julia, becomes the latest addition to MGA's Bouncy Baby line, now in its fourth year.

2000-2004

PDI changes its name to Digi-Frame Inc. and focuses on manufacturing digital picture frames. Digi-Frame's products are well-received in the marketplace and acclaimed in reviews, but the company is ultimately underfunded, and after crippling LCD shortages, abandons the manufacturing venture and in 2005 returns to full-time toy development.

2000

Over 200,000 units of “Radar Radio” are pre-sold for Telco’s 2000 Christmas line. PDI’s latest feature doll, "Hopscotch Heather", is Microgames’ lead TV doll once again, joining Bouncy Baby, Bathtime Bouncy Baby, and Giddyap Lil Dolly in their current lineup. “Howlin Hounds” sound-responsive plush dog item is DSI’s lead plush item for 2000. Our line of “Sentry” licensed room guard products is expanded at Planet Toys, and Ritvik Inc. introduces PDI’s patented “decoders” technology in its line of “Track Talkers” licensed NASCAR products.

1999

"Giddyup Girl" is Microgames’ lead TV doll, selling over 600,000 units. Mel Box and Yule Burner lead Telco’s line of animated Christmas decorations. PDI’s “Smart Reader” educational reading tutoring system is introduced by ToyMax. Julia conceives the idea of the digital picture frame and three designers are hired to develop the "Digi-Frame", one of the first digital picture frames to reach the consumer electronics market.

1998

“Frank E. Post the singing Christmas Lamp Post” becomes Telco Creations’ lead item for Christmas 1998. Singing Bathtime Bouncy follows Singing Bouncy Baby as Microgames’ lead TV doll in 1998 and is still in production today having sold close to one million units. "Madcaps", a line of sound-producing soda can toppers, is licensed to Funomenon. PDI's patented electronic sound-producing spring toy is licensed to James Industries and marketed under the Slinky™ name.

1997

PDI invents “Singing Bouncy Baby”, its first TV-promoted licensed item. Bouncy Baby wins a Family Fun Magazine award as one of the year’s best dolls, and is still in production today having sold over two million units. "Happy Hugs", another TV-promoted doll co-invented by PDI and licensed to Playmates Toys, is also produced in 1997. PDI's "Silly Songs Jukebox", licensed by Hasbro/Playskool, wins a Hasbro Inventor Award at the New York Toy Fair. PDI invents “Everett Green, the Singing Christmas Tree” which becomes a sensation for Christmas 1997 and revitalizes Telco Creation’s business. PDI moves to its architect-designed office in Port Chester, New York. PDI develops all sound modules for Touchtones™ line of interactive tee-shirts using Engelhardt Colortronics’ patented conductive inks.

1996

MicroGames’ One Man Jam electronic guitar, co-invented by PDI, wins “Dr. Toy” Best Toy of the Year award and is acclaimed at the time as featuring the best music incorporated in a toy musical instrument. PDI’s line of interactive dolls and plush toys at 100-year-old Uneeda Doll Co. becomes 30 percent of their business in its first year, selling nearly one million units.

Julia invents and patents an animatronic, synchronized moving-mouth mechanism, subsequently licensed to Telco Creations for use in their animatronic holiday products.

1995

PDI develops “Real Talkin’ Bubba”, Tyco’s interactive plush bear which has since become the industry’s best-selling and longest-running stand-alone feature plush line, selling millions of units. PDI develops the "Starchip" line of collectible figurines for the Danbury Mint, including licensed performances from artists such as Judy Garland, Shirley Temple, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis Presley.

1994

PDI co-invents the MicroJammers™ line of miniature electronic musical instruments, featured in the film “Jerry Maguire” and still in production today having sold over 2 million units. Line of licensed Elvis plush animals featuring actual Elvis recordings generates $5 million in sales. Julia's patented acceleration/deceleration sound algorithm is incorporated in Tonka's "Smokin' Semi" item.

1993

PDI develops over 85 items, including VoiceBot™ voice-controlled robot for Toy Biz Inc., which wins award for “Best Boy’s Toy” of 1993 in Australia. 

1992

PDI develops over 60 items in calendar ’92 with a staff of five. Buddy-L Corp.’s Rumblers™ vehicle line with patented sound-generating circuit become’s PDI’s first major licensing success.

1991

PDI develops “My Pal 2”, an interactive robot toy, for Toy Biz. The toy is heavily featured in the major motion picture “Toys” starring Robin Williams. PDI moves to larger quarters in City Island, NY. We develop an interactive audience-polling system for television game shows for M. H. Segan & Co.

1990

PDI develops “Magic Bottle Baby” for Tyco Toys, the first promotional doll to incorporate a low-cost Taiwanese “voice chip”.

1989

PDI develops Playtime Products' "Solid Gold Rock Star Digital Guitar", featuring twice the number of "riffs" and three times the number of sounds as Tyco's competing item, at a lower manufacturing cost. PDI develops the "Force One" jet fighter plane with sound effects and the "Force One Joystick" infrared target system for ERTL.

1988

PDI develops "Rhythm Rods", which becomes a sensation in the music category, for Playtime Products. Followed up with "Solid Gold Rock Star Beat Box" and other line extensions.

1987

PDI develops a “load management system” for use by major utilities to remotely-control large appliances to reduce peak electricity demand. Developed “Talking Pictures”, the world’s first message-recording picture frame, a product category which has since become an enduring staple of the “gadget” industry.

1986

Julia leaves M. H. Segan & Co. to found PDI. PDI develops and patents "Stim-u-Vision", an interactive television system allowing control of external devices via encoded signals on videotape. A line of electronic lawn sprinkler timers is developed for Melnor Industries.

1985

Julia develops a VLSI implementation of the sound synthesizer used in the Dakin ChatterAnimals™. Making extensive use of switched-capacitor technology to save chip area, it features S-C filters and S-C digital-to-analog-converters.

Julia designs a "Load Management Module" for Quadlogic Controls. The "LMM", as it's known, allows a utility company to remotely control high-power loads like air conditioners in participating customers' premises in order to reduce peak demand.

1984

Julia designs automated production-line test equipment for a remotely-readable electronic power meter produced by Quadlogic Controls Corp., a spinoff of Swarztrauber-Segan. Circuit design and PCB layout are accomplished in just six weeks at SSI's New York offices, then Julia spends six more weeks at the factory in Hong Kong writing 10,000 lines of PLM/X code to run the equipment.

Julia designs a new, cost-reduced version of Quadlogic's electronic power meter, based on a 4-bit microcontroller.

Julia designs a dual-voice ("harmony") version of Swarztrauber-Segan's VLSI melody IC, and automated test equipment for wafer probe and COB testing of the chip.

1983

Julia designs and builds high-speed automatic test fixtures for VLSI melody IC's used in Swarztrauber-Segan's seasonal items and the world's first musical greeting cards, produced by SSI for Hallmark Cards. The testers are used at both wafer probe and COB stage testing and Julia orversees their installation and use both at the foundry and in the factory in Hong Kong as 5 million greeting card modules are produced during the summer of '83.

1982

Julia invents and designs the world's first interactive sound-responsive, sound-generating plush toys for Swarztrauber-Segan Inc. Licensed to R. Dakin & Co. as "ChatterAnimals™", the cost-effective circuit used a 4-bit microcontroller and piecewise-linear control of two formant filters to recreate dog, parrot, and monkey sounds. The firmware could differentiate between various types of sound input and produce corresponding responses.

As 1982 was the height of the "Pac Man" game craze, Julia also creates a Pac Man "Chatter Animal"; however, lead time and cost constraints dictate that a microcontroller cannot be used. Julia's fiendishly clever solution realistically recreates a sequence of game sounds using just two hex inverters, a quad XOR gate, and a quad comparator.

1981

Electro-Harmonix succumbs to competition and files for bankruptcy protection. Julia joins Swarztrauber-Segan Inc., a New York-based developer of consumer electronic products, seasonal goods, and toys. Julia first project at SSI is a microcontroller-based electronic car horn incorporating melody, voice synthesis, and ultrasonic intrusion detection.

1980

Julia returns to New York, sets up a lab in the Flatiron district, and invents The Clockworks, an innovative rhythm synthesizer which acts as a controller for the line of percussion instruments she created while in London. Part drum machine, part real-time performance instrument, and based on some amazingly clever and inexpensive analog circuitry, The Clockworks goes on to become a cult classic, with rare specimens fetching over $1,000 at auction in the 2000's. In 2014 E-H reissues the product in a new housing but with Julia's original analog frequency divider circuitry.

1979

Julia spends a year in London, England, setting up a UK distribution and service center for Electro-Harmonix. She leases and outfits a suitable space and hires a manager and service technician, and while there also finds time to invent and design the world's first line of low-cost electronic percussion instruments, the Space Drum, Crashpad, Sequencer Drum, and Super Space Drum, all highly sought-after collector's items today.

1977-1978

Julia is hired by Electro-Harmonix, one of the world's first and foremost manufacturers of electronic musical instrument effects devices. Impressed by her abilities and ethusiasm, founder and president Mike Matthews gives her free reign to pursue her ambition of creating a guitar synthesizer. The end result is the EH-8000, by far the most complex and sophisticated product the company had produced to date. One of very few guitar synthesizers on the market at the time, the EH-8000 was alone in being able to operate with a standard unmodified guitar, no easy feat considering the complexity of the guitar signal in both the frequency and time domains. An all-analog device, the EH-8000 had a tracking speed that rivals today's fastest digital descendants, and was used by a number of rock luminaries of the day, including Steve Howe of Yes.


Pragmatic Designs Inc. specializes in designing with Microchip products.
Visit the Microchip Technology web site for more information by clicking the button above.

© Pragmatic Designs Inc. 2016