One would be hard pressed to find a vendor more committed to customer service than Bud Mills. During his frequent visits to the TI computer gatherings, he could sometimes be spotted sitting at his table with a soldering iron making on-the-spot repairs or upgrades.
As a member of the Northwest Ohio based New Horizon TI-99/4A Home Computer Users Group, Bud Mills was in a unique position to watch the introduction of the Horizon RAM disk. Among the group's members were the designers, Ron Gries and David Romer. Users interested in owning their Horizon RAM disk could either purchase the blank board for $50, or pay $180 for an assembled 90K version. The board was an instant success, but it quickly became apparent that those wanting to construct the board themselves as well as the designers were facing a similar issue. Obtaining the components in such a small quantity was both expensive as well as time consuming.
With his experience at AT&T in parts tracking, Bud was familiar with component acquisition. He knew that he could reduce the cost if the components were bought in bulk. He offered to locate, purchase, and assemble the parts into a kit that could be offered with the bare board. He would also supply the needs of Horizon Computer.
In addition to parts, Bud would eventually assume the role of distributor and builder of the RAM disks. As a result of their decreased involvement, Ron Gries and David Romer agreed to the sale of Horizon Computer Ltd. in 1988 to Bud Mills Services.
The same year, Bud was asked by Robert Jones and John Guion Jr. of the Dallas TI Home Computer User Group to bring their wire-wrapped version of a GROM emulator to the TI user community. Bud converted the prototype of the P-GRAM card into a production board and began supplying it to users as either a do-it-yourself project or ready to run.
As the prices on memory chips began to fall, Bud released the HRD-2000, which used 32K memory chips in place of the original 8K chips. In 1990 the HRD-3000, which added the option of using 128K memory chips resulted in a RAM disk with 1.5 megabytes of storage or 17 times more than the original Horizon RAM disk had.
Some of the other items that Bud was instrumental in bringing to the TI/Geneve user community were:
- MEMEX - Memory Expansion Card for the Geneve created by Ron Walters
- WHT SCSI - SCSI controller for the TI-99/4A and Geneve designed by Don O'Neil
- P-GRAM+ - An improvement on the original P-GRAM, which allowed for additional modules
- HRD-4000 - RAMdisk redesigned to allow the use of either sixteen 128Kx8 or sixteen 512Kx8 RAM chips for maximum a capacity of 2MB or 8MB, respectively.
- Horizon Mouse - A serial mouse and software for use on the TI-99/4A by Mike Maksimik
Although no official counts exist, it is safe to say that Bud Mills Services was responsible for putting more build-it-yourself hardware items into the hands of TI-99/4A and Geneve users than all other vendors combined.
Bud is currently retired, but remains active in his church. He continues to live in Toledo at the same address that appeared in the Horizon documentation.
Click here to read the text of an interview with Bud Mills.
Inducted into the TI99ers Hall of Fame on April 19, 2010