ENCOM is an American multi-national computer technology corporation that developed many important programs and technologies such as digitization hardware and software, the MCP and Tron. In the 1980s ENCOM was mainly focusing on defense systems, but quickly began focusing more on video games after the amazing success and profits produced by games such as Space Paranoids and Light Cycles. The company is headquartered in Center City.
ENCOM was founded by Dr. Walter Gibbs, Ph.D. on July 22, 1972, originally from inside his garage. Within less than ten years, ENCOM grew into one of the world's leading computer companies.
In 1979, lead software engineer Kevin Flynn privately developed a set of five video games, including Space Paranoids and Matrix Blaster, while working nightshifts at ENCOM's offices. Before he could present the games to the company, however, another programmer, Ed Dillinger, hacked into Flynn's private files and stole the games. Three months later, Dillinger presented the games to executives at ENCOM; the games became a massive success and Dillinger was promoted, eventually rising to Senior Executive VP. Flynn was then fired by Dillinger after disputes over credit for his work.
ENCOM brought its first mainframe online in 1980. It was a significant breakthrough in processing power and chip-to-chip communication. Dillinger created an administrative program to control this mainframe. Its name was the Master Control Program, or "MCP". Development of MCP began as a chess program dating back to when Flynn was first with the company.
By 1982, ENCOM was operating in 30 different countries and was a leading research facility. One particular breakthrough involved the disintegration and reintegration of matter using a laser beam.
Dillinger's MCP, however, was becoming self-aware and unsatisfied with the limitations of controlling just the ENCOM mainframe. It began hacking into outside systems and assuming the functions of the programs it found there. Still bored, and much to Dillinger's chagrin, it began making plans to hack into the Pentagon and Kremlin systems to take control of the world's two largest defense systems. Doing so would essentially have given MCP control over the world, which MCP justified by explaining it could run the systems more efficiently than people. Dillinger objected, but MCP was able to control him by threatening to expose his theft of Flynn's game programs.
Despite being let go from the company, Flynn continued his search for proof that he created the video games that earned ENCOM so much money. Flynn started his own business, a video arcade, from which he hacked into the ENCOM mainframe in search of code fragments he could reconstruct, such as his original password or Dillinger's order to redirect the data. MCP was able to shut Flynn out of the system, further frustrating the young programmer. On Sept. 22, 1982, Flynn, with the help of ENCOM programmer Alan Bradley and researcher Lora Baines, was able to disable the MCP and finally uncover the missing data, leading to Dillinger's dismissal and giving Flynn enough leverage to assume control of the company and become CEO.
Soon after, Flynn introduced a new video game, called "TRON," which was accompanied by a successful toy line. TRON and Space Paranoids became the bestselling video games in history.
In 1985, Flynn's wife died, and those closest to him noted a change in his personality, which was described as more erratic. Flynn began to push his theories of a new digital frontier that could be used to "reshape the human condition." Flynn expounded on his ideas in a book, called "Digital Frontier," and in a famous speech about computers declared that, "In there is a new world! In there is our future! In there... is our destiny."
Among Flynn's initiatives was a program to develop and distribute software such as operating systems openly without concern for profit.
Sometime in 1989, Flynn told those closest to him that he had made a breakthrough in computing that could impact science, medicine, religion and more. A few days later, Flynn mysteriously disappeared and as a result many feared that ENCOM would go out of business now that their creative guru was gone. Bradley assumed the mantle of interim CEO but the company began to lose ground in the software field to Dillinger Systems, a company formed by Flynn's old rival.
In the early 1990s, rumblings from ENCOM stockholders led to the board forcing Bradley to step down, though he remained on the board. Though Bradley insisted Flynn would one day return, the rest of the board decided to move on without him and sought to return to profitability. As part of this initiative, ENCOM laid off several of its most experienced programmers and other personnel.
The perceived abandonment of Kevin Flynn's ideals angered some of his most ardent followers, who began an underground movement to keep his memory alive. The efforts culminated in 1998 with the release of an Internet virus that crashed 40 million computers.
In the 2000s Richard Mackey became chairman of the board, and by 2010 ENCOM had experienced its most profitable year ever. However, Flynn's son, Sam, remained a majority stockholder in the company, and while he stayed out of ENCOM's day-to-day activities and publicly professed to not concern himself with its operations, once a year Sam would stage an elaborate stunt to embarrass the company's executives.
This all changed in 2010 when Sam decided to reassert control over the company, fired Mackey and installed Bradley as chairman with the intention of returning the company to the ideals established by Kevin Flynn.
In 1982, ENCOM was under the control of senior EVP Ed Dillinger, and was developing multiple computer programs, and most importantly, digitising technology. However, Ed Dillinger was soon displaced from his position once Kevin Flynn acquired proof that it was he, and not Dillinger, who had developed five video games that earned millions of dollars in profit for the company.
In TRON 2.0, ENCOM was in the process of a hostile takeover by FCon in 2003, with its technology being seized and taken over for profit by FCON, but this led to ENCOM scientists being unaware of the corruption spreading throughout the computer world. This problem was soon stopped by a digitized Jet Bradley.
By 2010, ENCOM had developed into the world's largest video game company, under the control of Alan Bradley. ENCOM was also into heavily merchandising its games (such as Recognizer night-lights and action figures); this enabled ENCOM to be incredibly popular. The board of directors took control of the company after the disappearance of Kevin Flynn. Richard Mackey took over as the new ENCOM CEO, and he and the rest of the board quickly eliminated the idea of sharing their operating system with others. Since then the company moved into the operating system market, releasing FLYNN/ENCOM OS 12 by 2010. But, after returning from the Tron system, Sam Flynn, the controlling interest shareholder of ENCOM, seized control of the company. Richard Mackey was reported to be fired from his position as chairman and Sam installs Alan as Mackey's replacement.
ENCOM In Other Media
There is an ENCOM advertisement on a 1983 bus-stop bench in the episode "Welcome to Storybrooke" of the TV show Once Upon a Time . Interestingly, the father in that episode is named "Kurt Flynn," an obvious nod to Kevin Flynn. This also suggests that both Fairy Tale characters and TRON are living in the same universe.
Notes and references
"Past." Encom International. Disney, 2010. Web. 03 Aug. 2010. http://www.encominternational.com/past.htm