With 30 years professional experience in the computer world, Mike Fulton Consulting offers custom application programming for both Macintosh and Windows, database programming, web design services, and photography services.
We also offer custom services such as new computer assembly, software application installation, wired or wireless network installation, and application training.
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Mike Fulton has been involved with computers for over 35 years. His first real exposure to programming was with the Radio Shack TRS-80 system. Mike was in Junior High School when the system first hit stores, and although the price was out of reach, the manager at the local store was willing to let Mike and a few other kids use the machine when there were no other customers.
Over the next few years, Mike would continue to play around with computers whenever possible at other stores and in school. Immediately after graduating high school, he purchased his first machine, the Atari 400.
Mike attended Cypress College next, concentrating on computer and photography courses. His original career goal was to be a photographer, but his increasing proficiency with programming soon asserted itself and took Mike down a different path.
In 1986, Mike began development on a font editor for the new Atari ST computer platform. When it was finished, he fielded offers from several software publishing companies who wanted to publish the program, hire him, or both. Mike soon thereafter joined a small start-up called Neotron Engineering (later Neocept, Inc.) and his font editor “Fontz” became the first and foremost font editor for the Atari system. While at Neocept, Mike was also co-author of the “WordUp” word processor and “TurboJet” printer driver accelerator.
In late 1990, Mike left Southern California and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area when he accepted a job offer from Atari Corporation to become the primary developer support engineer for the Atari ST platform. A few years later when Atari tried to get back into the video game console market with the Jaguar, Mike became the Development Tools manager for that platform. Mike left Atari in Sept. 1995 when the company was doing lay-offs nearly every week.
After Atari, Mike worked briefly at a coin-op machine company called Lazertron, but left in February 1996 to accept a position at Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA), where he was a Senior Developer Support Engineer for the brand new PlayStation system. SCEA offered Mike many interesting opportunities, including travel. During his tenure at SCEA, Mike made multiple trips to Japan and the U.K. as well as cities across the U.S.
In mid-1998, Mike left Sony to join a new startup venture called VM LABS, headed by former Atari R&D VP Richard Miller. VM LABS was creating a new microprocessor intended for MPEG-2 decoding in DVD players. Unlike the other processors targetting that market at the time, the “NUON” processor from VM Labs was also capable of general purpose processing and was ahead of its time in offering 4 independently programmable processor cores. VM LABS planned to exploit the enhanced capabilities of the NUON processor by offering console-style games and DVD player user interfaces that could be customized for individual movies.
Unfortunately, a variety of factors conspired to keep NUON from succeeding. Perhaps the main problem was the higher price of the NUON processor compared with the competition, compounded by the need to include extra RAM and game controller ports. This was supposed to be offset by the additional income derived from royalties on after-market software, much like the business model of a typical video game console, but that idea was largely killed by the fact that those companies using the NUON processor did so tentatively with only a model at a time, and with little to no marketing support.
VM LABS went into bankruptcy in 2001 and the assets were taken over by GENESIS MICROCHIP, which also hired most of the remaining employees. However, a downturn in their primary business (LCD monitor controller chips) caused them to re-think their plans for NUON and all but a handful of the former VM LABS employees were let go.
Since leaving Genesis Microchip, Mike has been doing contract programming and independent consulting, along with web design & programming. Clients include NVIDIA, EIDOS, HOPLITE RESEARCH and others.
My Introduction To Computers
I first got interested in computers when I was a little kid. Watching Star Trek reruns every day after school probably had a lot to do with it. I knew that the computer on the Starship Enterprise wasn’t real, and I can’t honestly say I had much of an idea about what REAL computers were used for, but I figured that they must be pretty cool and I knew I wanted one. Unfortunately, this was the early ’70’s, and home computers didn’t really exist yet, other than expensive and complicated kits that nobody but an engineer would understand.
I was in junior high school when the first TRS-80 computers appeared at Radio Shack one summer in the mid-70’s. I think it had an 8-bit Z80 processor running at 1 megahertz with a total of 4 kilobytes of memory.
Finally, here was a REAL computer that was within reach. That summer, my friend Mark and I rode our bikes down to the store several times each week. We’d sit at the keyboard and type in BASIC programs from the manual or one of the various books the store had for sale. Fortunately, the store manager was sympathetic to our interests and was willing to let us play as long as we didn’t break anything or make a mess. I think when school started again, Mark and I each had at least a dozen cassette tapes with saved programs on them.
The market for small computers was exploding. While most machines at that time were intended primarily for business, it wasn’t long before the first true “home” computers started to appear, such as the Apple and Apple II series, the Texas Instruments Ti99/4a, the Commodore Pet and Vic-20, and of course, the Atari 400/800 series. And then just a bit later, those machines were joined by the Commodore 64 and original IBM PC.
It took me awhile before I could afford to buy a computer of my own, but eventually I got the money together and bought my first computer, the Atari 400. This was in 1981, right in the middle of the first big video game boom. I was a big video game fan, so a big part of my decision to get the Atari was the fact that it was backed up by the Atari game library.
But my first love on the computer had been programming, so after awhile I put the games aside, for awhile at least, and concentrated on learning everything about programming this machine that I could. It wasn’t long before I had outgrown Atari BASIC and had moved onto writing assembly language code.
I wrote a variety of programs, each more sophisticated than the next, and I was just getting to the point where I thought I might be able to program computers for a living when Atari announced their new ST line of computers.
On the strength of some programming I’d done for the 8-bit Atari computers, I hooked up with a software/hardware developer who was looking to create some MIDI software for the new ST line. We had two projects. A patch editor/librarian for the Casio CZ-101 keyboard, which was a very popular, inexpensive MIDI keyboard, and a MIDI sequencer program. Neither really ever made it past the experimental stage, as much larger companies were already coming out with their own ST software, but it opened the door to other things and I’ve been traveling down that path ever since.