To be born in a crisis and win everybody, or the history of Kingston

    Hi% username%! You are really tired of the cloying stories of IT companies in which impeccable directors tirelessly make ingenious, ahead of their time products, and in their free time they say aphorisms or walk on water. The legendary Kingston Technology was born far from fabulous circumstances - two IT engineers at once lost all their savings in the stock markets and went to the bustling computer market with a young tiny company. And now we’ll tell you how it turned out that already from the first months the company has gained authority in the computer market.


    Not lucky on the exchange - lucky with RAM

    Today, being a non-motivated citizen or employee is a wild and generally bad manners. Already, at least on duty, “by whom do you see yourself in n years?” Is supposed to have a prepared phrase, as from a military charter. It is considered reasonable to change the sphere of activity once in a couple of years, mainly - so that creative people around do not laugh. At the same time, the status of “Honored Worker of Hard Work” today causes exceptionally sympathetic smiles, and not respect.

    And this is by no means a new trend: the young computer industry breathed about the same matters in the 1980s. last century. That is, today we already understand that there was still an unplowed field for iron and software achievements, but from the inside the situation looked about the same as it is today seen on smartphones. Two leading manufacturers (IBM and Apple) with large market shares, and around - a huge number of brands with a modest market share, small-scale hardware of their own production and obscure market prospects. Why, one wonders, in this strange “flea market”, pushing and competing with someone?

    Kingston Technology Founders - David Sun and John Tu

    So the founders of Kingston, engineers from Hong Kong, John Tu and David Sun, were not originally going to plunge into the jungle of the industry - friends released memory for the then popular DEC PDP-11 computers under their Camintonn brand. From 1980 to 1986, the company was profitable, but "you need to move on, open yourself in a new light" (what do you think?), So the company worth $ 6 million was transferred to young traders by IT entrepreneurs and prepared to change the field of activity ... but in In 1987, the US stock markets crashed - investments evaporated, and after all the work, the guys also went “minus” by $ 1 million.

    The blow to the wallet and self-esteem, frankly, was enormous, but Tu and Sun did not panic and returned to work on what they did best - with random access memory. So, on the crisis “ashes” in California, Kingston Technology emerged, named after John Tu's favorite music band.

    Kingston Technology Head Office in the First Years Since Foundation

    Good to be a small company

    In times of crisis, everyone feels bad: both newcomers and financially crippled market leaders. But small companies in the era of “bad budgets” can achieve fantastic results by simply releasing reliable and corporate-style products.
    And the thing is that already in the late 1980s, computers looked a little like a monolithic something, and, obviously, what comes along with standardization? Universal modules! Manufacturers stopped soldering RAM to the motherboard, computers with the ability to upgrade “RAM” came into fashion, but suppliers focused only on “bread customers” such as Apple and IBM, and brands with less memory were no longer enough. Therefore, John and David could not even imagine how much in demand would be their debut SIMM module with a modified circuitry.

    Kingston DDR400 memory module

    Kingston Technology executives sent a test batch of modules to a friend who owned a computer store in San Francisco. The modules were so stable and installed without a "tambourine", which, along with enthusiasm, a friend asked immediately "50 thousand of the same." Such volumes for the young company were still unbearable, therefore, therefore, Kingston handed over module drawings to the store, and in return scored radio parts to increase the circulation of components for the next customer. In a word, profit returned to the guys in “natural form”, in the best traditions of domestic factories of the 1990s, don’t you find?

    Yes, only times were such that it was not pride and exclusivity that mattered, but mass character and the absence of bureaucracy. While large suppliers continued to produce end-to-end memory modules for Macintosh and IBM-PC, retail left queues for memory for “bureaucrats” and placed orders with Kingston — even then the company’s memory was inexpensive, affordable in the shortest possible time, and very reliable (100% testing of all products since 1987, gentlemen). It even got to the point that many sellers purposely mined branded PCs without RAM, in order to later install Kingston modules in them.

    Corporate Customers Love Kingston's Memory for Reliability and 100% Quality Testing

    Shortly after, the memory shortage in the market began to decline, but the job was already done - the authority and scope of Kingston Technology grew very quickly, and Inc. magazine in 1992 awarded her first place on the list of fastest growing companies in the United States.

    What to do if you are a billionaire

    As you can see, the company was successful even without vicious maneuvers and irreconcilable “market wars” with competitors. Kingston’s recipe for conquering the market turned out to be so simple that it doesn’t even fit for a pathos book about the path to success: “in a difficult situation, do what you can, do it in good faith and everything will work out.” Indeed, it was due to sound calculation that the young company became so mature that it joined the “billionaire club” and sold products worth $ 1.3 billion already in 1995.

    By the way, about the billions - the successes of Kingston were of interest to the Japanese, therefore, in 1996, SoftBank holding immediately bought out 80% of the company’s shares for $ 1.5 billion. What happened next is remembered in the industry to this day. As a result of the transaction, John Tu and David Sun allocated $ 100 million for employee bonuses - an average of more than $ 100 thousand per person. Is this not an example of a magnificent team building, instead of the kindergarten rituals adopted today? By the way, even after this takeover, the company still did not become Japanese - the founders very beautifully bought the desired shares from SoftBank three years after the initial transaction.

    Kingston Technology Divisions in Taiwan and China

    Just don’t think that the guys from Kingston Technology spent time rushing in large sums of fun for the sake of the proceeds: the company deployed offices and production in the USA, Great Britain, Taiwan, China and Ireland with the proceeds, and each new branch was almost perfect in terms of working conditions (joining the TOP-s of the best employers guarantees this). As you can see, nothing to do with depressed factories where American premium smartphones are made.

    Kingston Technology Headquarters, aerial view

    It's not about technology, but how it is applied

    The main difference between Kingston Technology and its predecessor, Camintonn, was a different approach for managers to produce “non-format” components for the company. Tu and San did not try to turn their brainchild into a manufacturer of everything related to PCs, just the number of “excesses in the field” in the computer industry was sometimes such that it was definitely worth interfering.
    Speaking of excesses, we mean some kind of wildly overestimated piece of hardware that the PC manufacturer happily sells to customers and condemns, they say, "the only possible, unique accessory that will give you an unforgettable user experience." And then Kingston starts producing similar components and it turns out that, minus marketing, the accessory is simple and should cost much less. From here come the many “unformatted” branches of Kingston products from the very foundation of the company.
    For example, in the 1990s, CPU upgrade kits called Kingston Turbochip were very popular. They were a set of cooling system and Am5x86 processor with a simple installation for owners of 486 systems, or later versions, already using AMD K6-2. All this, of course, is “unsportsmanlike” from the point of view of an avid geek, but we will be frank - a problem-free upgrade was needed by customers both then and today.

    Kingston TurboChip 133 processor upgrade kit Kingston

    network equipment also fulfilled its noble mission - the company produced external and internal network cards compatible, including Macintosh. In the same period, the hard worker-network hub Fast Ethernet for 16 ports saw the light.

    Kingston Fast EtheRx KNE120TX network PCI adapter and Kingston KNE-PC2T network PCMCIA adapter

    And even Kingston-branded hard drives were really produced, and they made a noise during their debut! For example, in 1997, the DataPak 520 model appeared, with a capacity, as you might guess, of 520 MB, which became the most capacious drive on the market. A little later, Kingston Technology will release special StrataDrive software for migration from the old hard drive to the new one - the program made a complete "cast" of the existing HDD, including partitioning, system, etc. and transferred it to the new model in an elementary way. The owner just had to wait until the operation is completed, and install a new hard drive in place of the old one.

    Kingston DataPak Hard Drive (5 GB, PC Card, 3990 rpm)

    Who would we be and who are we?

    The subtitle, of course, sounds naive, but after all, it's time to clarify and talk about the company's products, right?
    Memory was and remains Kingston's strongest side - over 40% of the market share of all DRAM modules in the world clearly speaks of this. “Frans Valley” operating system is installed in a huge number of computers and laptops “from the factory”, runs to the limit in countless servers, and even household printers and MFPs often turn the print queue on our chips (it’s a pity that the legal details do not allow us to mention specific models). In retail, Kingston’s business is even cooler - all because the company has been keeping the brand for almost 30 years.

    Kingston is a leader among manufacturers of memory modules

    And although the brand’s ideology does not gravitate to records with “parrots” in popular benchmarks, the classic “hardware” by Kingston is still respectable today. What, for example, is a high-frequency (400-500 MHz) 512 MB memory module for the Apple Macintosh Powerbook G3? Just think: a stable and fast gigabyte of RAM in the 2000th year! Or Extreme HyperX DDR PC-3500 RAM in 2002? And the gigabyte SODIMM module in 2003?
    Even the 512-megabyte 400 MHz HyperX module with timings of 2-2-2-5-1 to this day pleases the eye with its poise. And in general, the Kingston gaming division, HyperX, was "playing with muscles" with might and main in the DDR2 era and already in 2008 (!) Introduced the damn fast 3x 1 GB DDR3 sets of 2000 MHz (CL9-9-9-27 @ 1.65v) for Intel X58 chipset. Just imagine how cool the “heated” Nehalem looked in the era when not everyone could afford Core2Quad!

    Extremely fast memory Kingston HyperX regularly sets speed records

    By the way, in 2011 HyperX memory set two world records at once, when overclockers Benjamin "Benji Tshi" Bush and Jean Baptiste "marmot" Gerard managed to overclock a set of DDR3 HyperX modules from 2544 MHz (KHX2544C9D3G1F2F2K1 ) up to 3082 MHz with CL7 timings!

    The Lab501 team accelerates the memory of HyperX KHX2544C9D3T1FK2 / 2GX to 3600 MHz and breaks three world records at once (Romania, 2011).

    Today, very fast, sophisticated and progressive memory modules of the HyperX gaming division perform under the Kingston banners. In "civilian" computers and laptops, our ValueRAM modules carry the same ideology as in 1987: an affordable price and the highest reliability. All Kingston memory modules pass the Burn-In Test - they work 24 hours in a row at 100 degrees Celsius and high voltage. Such a daily load emulates three months of regular operation, and only an impeccably working memory comes to the conveyor, with a lifetime warranty, by the way.

    Kingston’s entire memory undergoes rigorous stress testing before reaching the shelves

    There was not so much passion in the drives of the company - the emphasis was placed on such products, first of all, on capacity and durability. After an unprecedentedly capacious (already in 2000 something!) 2-gigabyte PC Card Type II initiative passed to the more promising Compact Flash, and in 2001 Kingston introduced the “full-format” Secure Digital with a capacity of 128 MB - by the way, even then it was certified for use in the first PDAs running Windows.

    Memory cards and Kingston in mobile (and not so) computers - a good old tradition

    But what about the "flash drive"? The first Data Traveler was born in 2002 - when Windows XP was a young and promising system, 32 MB was the normal size for a drive, and USB 1.1 was a pretty fast interface. Does this sound commonplace? Then guess who released the world's first 256GB USB drive in 2009, and then packed a terabyte of data into a standard USB flash drive in 2013?

    DataTraveler HyperX Predator - the world's first "flash drive" with a capacity of 1 terabyte

    Since then, a lot of water has flowed, and our flash drives have evolved and received specific “specializations”: monstrous drives with a capacity of more than 500 GB, corporate “flash drives” with hardware encryption, “armor-piercing-tourist” models or just tiny models from the category “to which the technique reached »Have completed our lineup over the past 14 years. By the way, the Kingston DTE Privacy Edition drive was so cool that it was used by the US military in 2006 as a regular medium for working with sensitive data.
    There is no greater joy for a geek than installing a memory card of an extraordinary capacity in an average gadget, and we are pleased to recall how countless "simple phones", PDAs and smartphones became even cooler after people bought the coveted MMC / SD / miniSD / microSD in ancient times, long before the advent of 3G and streaming services, got as much music, movies and photos on their mobile phones as they needed.
    And the debut 32 MB MMC memory card in 2001, and 256 MB in 2006, already in microSD format, and 16 GB microSDHC in 2009 are not just numbers, but a whole bunch of warm memories of the era when phones turned from communications into something more.

    Today Kingston produces memory cards for every taste.

    Finally, SSDs are the hardware of "recent history." Kingston did not begin to master the technology until it became mature enough, so the company's debut in the field of solid-state drives can be considered 2009 - the debut of the SSDNow E and SSDNow M series, jointly with Intel production. The top model from the new line squeezed out 250 Mb / s in sequential read mode and 170 Mb / s in write mode, and they looked modest in random read / write operations. But drives liked the business, went "to run" into industrial computers. And only then, when the drives stopped scaring off customers with their price tag, the V-series appeared (“V” means Vendetta Value, price) SSDNow is the first “popular” line of devices with the ability to try “how is it without a hard drive? "For inexpensive.

    Kingston SSDNow V300: 19nm MLC - to the masses!

    Three years later, the SSDNow V300 came out, already with "adults" of 120 and 240 GB of capacity, and became staggeringly popular, even despite the general fashion to shake ATTO Benchmark results and boast of linear speeds at the SATA-III limit. Gamers with no less pleasure chose HyperX 3K - the balance of characteristics and prices means much more for buyers than attractive numbers with mediocre product quality. We remember perfectly well the fate of the brand, which set itself the goal of “speed at any cost”, right?
    Today, only Kingston consumer SSDs have as many as six varieties — three for “home, for the family,” and another three are “fighters” of the HyperX division. By the way, we advise all speed lovers to look at the review of our very, very fast HyperX Predator PCI-E.

    What will happen next?

    Do not even hope that “all the melodies are sung, the verses are all written” - ahead of us is the heyday of DDR4 memory, tiny and prohibitively fast PCIe SSDs in M.2 format, wireless drives instead of archaic USB (and even Type-C), and carefully, Tastefully tuned peripherals for gamers. With all the outward conservatism, Kingston really has “hot heads” (almost like the logo), which means - wait for new cool announcements!

    Thanks for watching and stay with Kingston on the Guktime!

    For more information on Kingston and HyperX products, visit the company's official website . A page with a visual aid will help you choose your HyperX kit .

    Our previous posts:

    Also popular now: