Simply put... he was about to change the way Kentucky magicians do business!
Well Sort of... back then in order to keep one step ahead of the competition it was decided "the business" would need to go space age. Technology was still just a buzz word and according to Tom the Internet inventor Al Gore hadn't put his finished product to the test. Back then the other local magicians Lance, Mac, Delbert, Zippo, Bob Escher, Larry Hibbs and Ron West were still writing show info on paper using slower older technology like the Franklin Day Planner. All Louisville magic shows were booked that way.
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MagicTom in 1977 installing an ice dispenser on the first of many desktop computers. The first ones came without monitors but were user friendly. None of the other magicians had one and a bag of ice was about a dollar back then. It was very popular on Friday nights.
Our business needed to be at that next level he remembers telling his wife Lanna. With that attitude the MagicTom.Com business took a breath and proceeded with business plan code named " operation #13 BLACKHAWK 7 " He had attended a couple of AmWay meetings in the early 80's and that sparked an idea about "the business." The paperless society he had dreamed about as a boy was now within reach.
Having purchased an advanced Commodore C1000 F_ K with superior color graphics and blinking cursor he then had to figure how best to utilize the technology. Tom would learn it was not enough just to be the first on his block with a new system. He needed to develop a way for the client to access business information rapidly on their own time table anonymously. That way there would be no "pressure to buy."
Four short years later Tom would co-invent the Internet and now others would share in the benefits of his vision. Trial and error were his constant companion. Soon though family and close friends were doubting him. Winners never quit ... he would say over and over to himself for hours. His grocery day job at Winn Dixie was the only thing that kept him going. "If I couldn't rotate & block the cereal stock on aisle 7 I don't know what I would've done."
As chance would have it Tom gained financial backing from confidant and business mentor Lew Newton. In just under an hour The Highland Financial Group became a player. Soon the necessary tools were purchased. The Pontiac Trans Am turned out not to be the best choice of vehicle for hauling spools of cat 5 wiring, nic cards and modems as Lew had predicted. An interesting sideline to this is Lew's experience with the Guy Rhodes Agency and mimes but it has nothing to do with this article.
Ron West a programmer/analyst for the city argued the need for an " under ground pathway " to each and every home in the community. " Well the heck with that, Tom remembers saying. If we're gonna do that much digging we might as well connect the whole United States." That's how the internet was born.
Not an easy jump from the board room to the back yards but success is never easy according to friend Drew White. " Legally they had no right to go onto property owners land at night and begin digging. It was outrageous and I never had any idea they would go through with the idea, especially that much digging & wiring by hand ", he stated at the deposition. " I believe my words were ummm... sure, give it your best shot. Really I just wanted them both out of my office, we were redecorating at the time, and I was late for a massage."
It was soon financed and taken to the consumer with the help of Lew's company. Tom still suffers night dramas relating to the actual installation of copper wiring pairs to the nid box and has chronic fatigue syndrome. ( his sleep apnea is said to be non-related therefore not covered by his HMO plan. HMO's are good but man that made him mad to recall his HMO plan )
" They were just trying to have fun and make a ton of money. " A close friend and advisor Patty Lambert remembers the digging. " I remember how silly they looked without their shirts. They were waiting for this thing to pan out so they could buy a liposuction treatment or two & Delbert wanted a Sorcar the Magician poster. Tom wanted his own Amway franchise in memory of a female friend and had business cards made up that talked about "the business." So many dreams, so little sleep.
Then KA-pow they were blindsided with a lawsuit which they lost. They switched firms, from Issiacs, Issiacs & ASS. to Andrew White's World of Litigation. " They're open 24 hours a day, carry milk, bread and an assortment of Civil War trinkets. If you sue they can get you a check in about an hour ( about the time it takes to have a pair of glasses made ) . The paralegals Lisa and Jennifer make the best shaved ice and read short stories while you're in the waiting room. It's a company that's very progressive."
It is unclear whether the internet would be any different today had Delbert & Tom been able to continue their digging house to house. But what is clear is that there's plenty of frustration with the system Al Gore substituted from Tom's plan. He really thought e-mail should be hand-delivered so as to keep that personal touch.
" No other local magician handles the traffic we do in any given week " says Tom. I've seen the system " redline or barrel row " ( a phrase used by computer gamers flying against each other in online simulators ) His wife Lanna adds that "perhaps that wouldn't be a problem if it weren't also a gaming machine", that thought is lost on Tom as his computer generated Falcon F-16 is shot down over the Mediterranean and he ejects prematurely. Lanna says "He does that a lot lately."
Live to fight another day ..." winners never quit " he mutters. ( enemy Gregg Lambert AKA the " Black Kingfish " flies his F-117A simulator into a " victory roll " and reminds Tom he's DOA for 11 in a row then returns to his Highlands air base. )
What we do is nothing short of a miracle Magic Tom says holding up a deck of cards. If we can capture their key stroke entries through our server site and know when they pick a certain card and then have our data entry clerks fly pages ahead to paste that card into the final page of their web surfing... well then we've got them hooked and we know that yes... they will be back here to do it again and again whenever the boss is out of the office.
Louisville Kentucky magician Tom Hamilton
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