The Unofficial Segway HT Site
Move Faster, Move Productively, Move into the Future
-What Is It?
-How Does It Work?
The Segway HT is considered the most hyped and anticipated launch of any product ever. This launch has caused as many as 1 million hits on the ABC site proclaiming the Segway launch. Segway.com reported millions of visits and people staying for long periods of time. The Segway has appeared on such TV shows as NBC's "Frasier", ABC's "David Letterman", and FOX's "The Simpsons". So, how did all of this start? Who started it? We will answer your concerns, questions, and other things in this article.
This will be a six part article, with part one starting now....
Part 1: The Idea
NOTE: All this information has been taken from articles, speeches, and other sources about the Segway HT, and it's prototype name, GINGER. Not all information is owned by the webmaster. The only thing he has is his opinion in some articles. Facts will be cited if wanted by e-mail.
Part 1: The Idea
So, where did the Segway story start? Well, it could be said that it started by Dean Kamen when he saw a man in a wheel chair struggle to climb over a curb. Understanding something needed to be done, he immediately decided that a wheelchair should be developed that could run on un-even terrain. But latter, they found out it needed to balance. A 200 lbs object and an equally as big subject have never been successfully balanced on two wheels safely and be made in mass production. It took them 7 years and many prototypes, and now the Independence 3000 IBot is in the final stages of medical testing.
But how did the Segway come from a wheelchair that could go over un-even terrain and climb stairs? It was a feature that many of the developers just saw as a plus, an ability for the wheelchair to sand on two wheels, and thus make it eye level. Dean saw this "human stabilization" and after thinking about it, it would be a huge market. For an instrument that you could stand on and you would go forward and backward. Keep people off their feet. Make them go faster. Carry more. Be more productive.
One night, Dean is seen working feverishly at something. What is it? The first GINGER, the infamous code-name to the Segway HT. It was crude, ugly, and not very capable. This then starts the somewhat rabid design process. The design changes more and more. It went from Ginger, to Marry Ann, then the Ms. Howl, which was "ugly, big, and noisy".
Part 2: Establishing a Company 101 with Dean Kamen
Most new companies had their staff up, and everybody running years before a product was even tangible. But since the Segway is a very odd product, so was it's development as a company. The Segway was in final product testing and had a near done designing before any officials were hired to head Segway LLC. All they knew was that Dean was going to be a very big part of the company. Very big.
The first guy on board was Bob Tuttle, head of the financial part of Segway. He started as an engineer, then moved to accounting, so Dean loved him.
That brings up something very interesting. Dean is picky; VERY picky when it comes to investors and leaders. For over 2 years, investors trickled to DEKA to support the cause, but they found Dean's prices a bit steep. For $50-100 million, Dean wouldn't part with more than 15% of the company. Many bulked at the idea. Not only that, but Dean had to pass who could get the chance of actually proposing their investments.
But on he pushed, getting more investors like Michael Schmerzler and Jack Hennessy. He also built up the company too. Tim Adams, who was the president of Chrysler Europe, was selected to head the early Ginger company.
So in late December 2000, Kamen along with the company heads went off to California to show their product to Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs. The results were amazing....
Part 3: Me, Oh My, Segway Hits California & The Infamous Kamper