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MDSI Wins 1999 Technology and Business Vision Award from Microsoft and Start Magazine

Creator of OpenCNC® software honored for pioneering a new technology and a new business: CNC as unbundled software

CHICAGO, IL—Manufacturing Data Systems, Inc. (MDSI) has won start Magazine's 1999 Technology and Business Award for Vision in the category of small business, it was announced this week. The Vision awards are presented to companies who have developed business and product approaches that have transformed the manufacturing industry by leveraging Microsoft® technologies.

MDSI was recognized for its visionary approach to the computer numeric control (CNC) industry in the creation of a software business to develop and market a robust unbundled software CNC. MDSI's OpenCNC® software, running in production since 1993, is not only the first unbundled software CNC on the market, it is also the first CNC product to be packaged and marketed exclusively as software.

Accepting the award for MDSI was James R. Fall, president and CEO, MDSI. "We are honored to have our pioneering work in CNC honored by start magazine and Microsoft," Fall said. "Our goal has been to take the fear out of CNC by transforming it into a consumer product—shrink-wrapped software that is purchased and upgraded separately from hardware, just as is done today with office and engineering software. By taking this approach to the product and the business, we take the machine control out of the hands of a few experts or specialists, so that it can be broadly embraced across a wide range of users and applications."

In an industry dominated by bundled hardware/software proprietary CNC solutions, MDSI has proven that high-end, multi-axis CNC machine tools can be controlled entirely from software—without any motion control cards, proprietary hardware, or embedded firmware. Combining OpenCNC with Microsoft technologies such as Microsoft® Windows NT® and Microsoft® Visual Basic®, MDSI continues to break new ground:

  • OpenCNC running on Windows NT provides high-speed, deterministic soft motion control for multi-axis CNC machines.
  • With OpenCNC running on Windows NT, for the first time in the CNC industry, manufacturers can run a machine tool from the Internet. Machine tools can now be linked in the same way office or CAD workstations have been for years.
  • With the introduction of OpenCNC using Visual Basic as a standard macro programming tool—a first in the CNC world—MDSI lets manufacturers leverage the experience of over three million software engineers already trained in Visual Basic.
  • With the creation of OpenCNC, MDSI has given manufacturers a renewable CNC that is easily upgradeable via software upgrades—the same way office, graphics and spreadsheet software has been for years.

"MDSI is a software pioneer in the CNC market," said Don Richardson, industry manager for manufacturing at Microsoft Corp. "We at Microsoft are proud to join with start magazine in recognizing MDSI's vision in taking a whole new approach to a traditional market with Windows-based applications. We look forward to our continued association with them."

"start serves as a resource to help executives sift through all the technology options available today. For that reason, we are excited to recognize MDSI for it ability to achieve its corporate goals and strategies," says Peggy Smedley, editor in chief/publisher of start magazine, "and ultimately achieve its vision through the use of Windows technology. That is exactly what the Technology & Business Awards are all about."

Adds Rebecca Kaske, director of manufacturing, Microsoft Corp., "The Technology & Business awards are complementary to Microsoft's vision in demonstrating how suppliers of innovative line of business solutions add true business value to their customers. It is exciting to join start in recognizing these business partners throughout the manufacturing enterprise."

MDSI is a Microsoft Independent Solution Vendor (ISV), a program for emerging companies that produce innovative products based on the Microsoft platform and suite of technology products and components. The company is also a Microsoft Certified Solution Provider.

About MDSI

Manufacturing Data Systems, Inc. supplies factory automation software and services that increase manufacturing flexibility and enable agile manufacturing. The company's primary product, OpenCNC software, is a software CNC that reduces machine tool control costs and extends the productive life of machine tools. Unlike traditional CNC controls, OpenCNC software uses no proprietary hardware or motion control cards. The entire control is delivered on a CD. Because it's unbundled software that runs on off-the-shelf PCs, manufacturers are not locked into proprietary arrangements for hardware, control repair, or control upgrades.

MDSI's business strategy emphasizes technological and price/performance leadership, hardware independence and comprehensive customer-support. The company's customers, spanning many industries, include Boeing, Caterpillar, Dana-Spicer, Detroit Diesel, Emerson Electric, Ford Motor Company, General Electric, General Motors, Lockheed-Martin, Marconi Precision Aerostructures, Tecumseh Products Company, Teledyne, Textron, and Vickers. For more information, visit MDSI’s Web site at

MDSI, the MDSI logo, and OpenCNC are registered trademarks of Manufacturing Data Systems, Inc. Significant Events and OpenEvents are trademarks of Manufacturing Data Systems, Inc. Microsoft, Windows, Windows NT, Visual Basic, and Visual C++ are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the U.S. and/or other countries. All other brand or product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.