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Eric Bromley - After Coleco

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I've always been curious as to what happened to Eric Bromley following his time at Coleco. Well, Googling around I found some information but was wondering if anyone can provide more.

 

Eric left Coleco in 1984 and formed a new company, International Omni Corp. where he developed designs for several consumer products, including a multi-function desk phone, the Alphadial 2000, a line of toys and electronic jewellery.

 

In early 1986, Eric agreed to what he called a "reverse acquisition' with a shell company called Penguin Group Inc. who became Penguin Products Inc. Penguin went on to sell the Alphadial 2000 and the "Simplifier" (see below). The company folded some years later following issues surrounding a license with Tonka toys to put licensed Tonka video games on the NES.

 

.......?

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This article is very interesting although I can't find the original source the following has been taken from here:

 

Penguin Group offers software simplifier, toy and jewelry lines. (company profile)
Source: New England Business
Publication Date: 06-OCT-86
PENGUIN GROUP OFFERS SOFTWARE SIMPLIFIER, TOY AND JEWELRY LINES
Mort Reisfield, second vice president at Shearson Lehman Brothers, rarely travels outside of the metropolitan New York area to attend presentations of new companies. But when he heard that Eric Bromley, president of Penguin Group Inc., would be unveiling a new product at a meeting of securities analysts in Hartford, Reisfield made the 3 1/2-hour trek on a rainy Thursday night from his office in Chatham, N.J.
In a packed room, Reisfield and other analysts looked on as Bromley demonstrated his new product, which he calls the Simplifier--a device Bromley says will be the "salvation for the woes of computer users.' Once the Simplifier is attached to a computer, a program cartridge is inserted. This allows a neophyte to operate complicated programs such as Lotus 1-2-3 or dBASE III without needing to consult an owner's manual or guide.
Bromley told the analysts, "The trouble with computers and automation today is that most people can't learn to use it, and if they do, they forget how. Simplifier will allow any software package to be made useful with little or no training.'
The demonstration itself nearly flopped. Approximately 75 people crowded around a computer trying to see the Simplifier do its thing. Beads of sweat gathered on Bromley's brow as he looked back and saw that only the people nearest to the computer could see what he was doing. Frustrated viewers in the back of the crowd wandered off in the direction of the bar and the hors d'oeuvres table.
But when the demonstration was over, and Bromley and other Penguin representatives were talking to analysts and members of the press, several observers meandered back from the bar in groups of two and three to try the Simplifier. Many were surprised to find that Bromley was right. All they had to do was touch a few buttons, read the display's prompt messages, and--voila!--they were using Lotus to perform complicated tasks. Murmurings of several in the crowd seemed to address the same theme: Bromley may not have developed the right technique for a dog-and-pony show, but the Simplifier is definitely something worth keeping an eye on.
"I WANT ONE'
Along with the Simplifier, Bromley showed a line of electronic jewelry, L'Ectronique: necklaces that are also FM radios and bracelets that double as electronic bulletin boards. He displayed Penguin's Alphadial 200 telephone, which permits dialing by name instead of number. He also talked about an upcoming toy line and his computer-driven jewelry. He jewelry will use fiber optics to produce changing patterns of light and will be on the market next year.
"He's putting out the type of things that when you look at them you say, "Hey, I want one of those,'' says Reisfield, who bought Penguin's telephone several months ago. "Based on his track record when he was with Coleco, I think that this company one of these days is going to be a big seller.'
While he was executive vice president of research and development at Coleco Industries Inc. in West Hartford, Conn., Bromley was responsible for the conception, design and development of Coleco's electronic product line, including Colecovision, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and the Adam home computer.
He left Coleco in 1984 and formed a new company, International Omni Corp. One of Bromley's goals for Omni was to merge with another company as a joint venture. During Omni's first year, Bromley designed prototypes and worked with Japanese manufacturers to develop and produce the Alphadial 200 telephone. By day he designed; by night he telephoned and telefaxed his instructions to Japan. At the end of six months he had a working model of the phone and a portfolio of designs for a line of toys and electronic jewelry.
He brought his portfolio to the board of directors of Penguin Group Inc. in New Jersey, a shell company that had cash and was looking for a company with which it could merge. Bromley agreed to what he calls a "reverse acquisition' with Penguin: In return for 51% of Penguin Group's stock, Bromley merged Omni into Penguin. Its a way for startup companies to become public without going through the expense and hassle of an initial public offering.
Penguin, with headquarters in Bloomfield, Conn., is still in its embryonic stage. Four of the company's 10 employees are former Coleco colleagues, and Bromley, 46, is finding that being an entrepreneur presents challenges different from those found in the corporate world. "Instead of throwing money at problems, we have to throw cleverness.' He says his background as a philosophy professor at Utica College in New York is an asset. "My thinking doesn't run along normal lines,' he explains.
The Alphadial 200's sales have been steady, but Bromley says Penguin will concentrate more heavily on the Simplifier. "We're zeroing in on the products which we think have the most chance of success. We started out broad, but we are now narrowing as we get into it.' Bromley says the reason he has developed such a diverse product line--toys and games, electronic jewelry and business products --is to provide a balance. "They offset each other.
"Coming from the toy industry and a company like Coleco where fortunes go up and down like a roller coaster, I realized that you have to balance and insure that the company grows at a steady rate,' Bromley says. "But in doing anything, you have to go with what you're strongest at, and I know the toy business. I said I have to balance to toy business with another business, otherwise we could flop.'
The toy and jewelry lines are trendier than business products, but they have much lower production costs and there is a greater potential for individual blockbusters, Bromley believes. His strategy is to stagger the introduction of Penguin's products; if any one product line becomes a big hit, he will focus more heavily in that area.
Penguin is concentrating only on the design and development of its products-- not the manufacturing end. The company contracts all of its manufacturing to companies in Japan and Hong Kong, many of which Bromley worked with during his nine years with Coleco. By doing so, he avoids the capital expeditures of inhouse production. "I get the same manufacturing processes as the major corporations, but it doesn't cost as much,' he says. He adds that his contacts in Asia have proven to be a valuable asset. With advice and help from his Japanese colleagues, he says, he was able to develop and manufacture a telephone without a staff.
Bromley predicts his jewelry line, L'Ectronique, will be as successful as the popular Swatch line of Swiss watches. Penguin entered into a marketing agreement with New York-based K&K Creative Marketing Associates Inc. to distribute the jewelry to national women's clothing stores next year.
The Simplifier will be test-marketed to a limited number of large corporations in November and introduced to the general public in the first or second quarter of 1987. Bromley won't disclose an exact figure, but he says it will be competitively priced at less than $1,000.
Because of the highly competitive nature of the toy industry, Bromley will not discuss Penguin's toys, but he says they will go into production next year and be marketed for the 1987 Christmas season. "He has a toy upcoming, and . . . from what I've read about and gleaned, this could be another Pac-Man,' says Reisfield. "With his creative mind, this is only the initial phase of what they'll be coming out with.'
Photo: Penguin's Bromley: A line of electronic jewelry.

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We tracked him down and requested an interview. His secretary told us he declined. It seems like most VPs, he doesn't like to talk past business.

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We tracked him down and requested an interview. His secretary told us he declined. It seems like most VPs, he doesn't like to talk past business.

 

That is an enormous shame. I wonder if he knows how passionate we are for what he and Coleco produced. He might get a kick out of the fact that there are now more homebrew games produced than original commercial releases and that their vision for an SGM finally got released. It would have been fascinating to have heard his story.

 

I wish him well and hope that one day he may change his mind.

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