What’s in a name. TGSI…

When “three guys,” Mark Eason, Harry Rodriguez, and I decided to start a company the first order of business was to figure out what to call it. If you think about it, it’s not a trivial matter. It has to be simple, easy to remember and should lead to having a small number of letters for the web site domain name.

This was back as the earth was still cooling and no one would have a long domain name. I mean, no one would consider typing in; www.WillDesignAnyghingAsLongAsItGetsOurCompanyGoing.com

The formal (sort of) organizational meetings between the “three guys” were held in my garage. My wife knew that we would be building electronic stuff, so she suggested I clean up the garage and set aside a workspace for the company. So I did, and it would become our “lab” and meeting place.

I should mention that the very first meeting was held in the living room of Mark Eason’s apartment in California City. Although he was single at the time, he had a girlfriend and soon moved in with her in Tehatachipi… entirely too far for Harry and me to drive. We could have met at Harry’s house, but since he lived in Palmdale, it would be farther away for Mark. So… we settled on my garage as the “in the middle place.” It wasn’t really in the middle but was the best compromise.

(By the way… Mark soon married his girlfriend.)

Well… maybe you can see where this is going… “three guys”… meeting in “their garage”. We couldn’t come up with a professional sounding name for our new company. So at least as a working name we thought we would be clever; “Three Guys in Their Garage”. At first, we decided on the initials TGTG because that would be an easy web site… www.tgtg.com.

But that web domain name was already taken. (Today it’s an EARTHLINK web site.) Once again we thought we were clever when we decided TG TG would be “TG Squared.” While we were being clever… at least we thought we were being clever, we came up with a scientific-looking logo. After all, we were “rocket scientists”… sort of.

Clever Indeed

TGSquared, www.tgsquared.com, would have been too long for a web site domain name. We wanted it to be simple and easy, so it would have been TGS. At first, we would go with TGS Inc: TGSI. We checked and www.tgsi.com was available!

However, we were not incorporated and didn’t want to spend the money to do that. At the time it required lawyers and thousands of dollars. So we couldn’t go with “Inc.” Still, we needed something that made us sound like more than what we were… three guys in their garage.

In a former life, I was a professional student. I earned a couple of “airhead” degrees before moving on to electrical engineering. One of those degrees was in political science.

Stay with me here… I didn’t really make a sharp turn. It will make sense in a minute.

During my “political science” days, international terrorism was coming to the forefront of the daily news. During my studies, I took a course in “International Terrorism” from a brilliant professor, Dr. Richard O. Collin, and his side-kick Maxwell Schmedley. No… I wasn’t learning how to do it. I was learning about it.

Richard (who became a good friend and life-long “guy in the back of my head”) observed that what a terrorist group called themselves was important. You wouldn’t strike terror into the hearts and minds of the world if you called yourself, “Andreas and Ulrike Change Society”. On the other hand, the Baader-Meinhof Gang struck terror all across Europe.

Richard also pointed out that the size of the group was the opposite of what their name suggested. The Symbionese Liberation Army was actually never much more than seven members and a jeep. The Baader-Meinhof Gang had thousands of supporters. This idea… the smaller the group, the bigger the name… stuck with me.

Thus, TGS Inc. became TGSquared Industries – TGSI. Yeah… “Industries” was the impression we wanted when someone first saw our name. Besides, it did show our ambition for what we would attempt to become.

But wait… there’s more.

We… TGSI… went about trying to drum up business. First, we subscribed to the “Commerce Business Daily” which published all of the US Governments “requests for proposals.” This contained the requests for everything from pots-n-pans to work on novel research ventures. Nothing ever came of that.

We also gave presentations to potential customers. Since we didn’t have a place of business… other than the garage… we would rent a meeting room for a day. We would bring in donuts, a coffee pot, and a projector. This was before Power-Point presentations became popular. People wanted to have paper in their hands.

One of those presentations impressed a guy associated with Honeywell Aerospace in Phoenix, Az. Honeywell was interested in bringing in a small business on a project. Big companies get preference points if they have small business subcontractors. So the folks from Honeywell invited me to give a presentation of TGSI’s capability in Phoenix.

About twenty or thirty of Honeywell’s senior folks attended the presentation. Nothing ever came of it. They thought I was “blowing smoke” when I told them of our capabilities. They were set in their big corporation ways and couldn’t believe anyone on earth could build anything as fast as we could.

Before the formal presentation at the Honeywell facility a handful of “us engineers” met for breakfast at a local restaurant. I told them how we were able to bring designs to completion so fast. All were interested. As I was eating my eggs over-easy and hashbrowns, one of the guys asked me, “What does T G S I stand for?”

Oh “S^%*&%!” I couldn’t tell them that it stood for “Three Guys in Their Garage.” So without missing a bite of food I told them it was indeed for TG Squared… and proceeded to explain the TG TG stood for:


So now, you know the “rest of the story.”

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