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Getac celebrates 25th Anniversary

Getac celebrates a quarter century of providing rugged computers at the US Marine Corps 2014 Miramar Air Show

by Conrad Blickenstorfer, pictures by Carol Cotton, October 2014

For those who've been around a while, the big old box computer next to Getac's new T800 tablet is not an old Compaq or Osborn 1 on steroids. It's Getac's first ever computer, the venerable T3020 conceived way back in October of 1989. The Berlin Wall still stood back then (it came down November 9, 1989) and the T3020 weighed in at a hefty 42 pounds. That's more than a full scuba tank. And now Getac is celebrating its 25th Anniversary!

How Getac got started

How did it all get started? In 1989, American GE Aerospace and MiTAC of Taiwan formed Getac to build the company's first product, the T3020 mobile (sort of) computer that was designed specifically for military field use. That was then and this is now. Getac points out that their new F110 rugged tablet, which is the the fastest selling product in the company's history, weighs just 1/14th as much as the old T3020, yet has more computing power than all the T3020s sold in the early years combined.

And Getac today is a key subsidiary of the MiTAC-Synnex Business Group which in 2013 had sales of US$26.4 billion. How did it all happen? Well, Getac early on realized the importance of building truly rugged computing products that can work and survive in the most extreme environments on the planet. By 1992, Getac launched their N-Series military notebook complete with military connectors and GPS. In 1994, they added the I-Series rugged notebooks for industrial users, and by 1995 they offered their first L-Series semi-rugged. That was followed in 1997 by the legendary Getac A-Series, the first notebook with a magnesium alloy chassis.

On the business side, Getac teamed up with with MiTAC International Corporation in 1998, forming MiTac Technology Corporation, bringing rugged notebooks to the commercial consumer. In 2000, Getac got into tablets, presenting the CA-Series with wireless internet access (see Getac CA35 and Getac CA27), allowing drivers to stay connected out there in the field. That same year, Getac added integrated GPS to an upgraded A-Series (see Getac A770). And by 2000, VDC announced that Getac was the 3rd largest supplier of fully rugged mobile computers in the world.

2001 saw the advent of the W-Series of slim-line rugged notebooks (see Getac W130), followed in 2004 by the M-Series that pioneered large touch panels and 3G wireless (see Getac M230).

2007 saw the introduction of the V-Series of rugged convertibles (see Getac V100), the P-Series of even tougher semi-ruggeds (see Getac P470), and the E-Series of lightweight yet fully rugged tablets (see Getac E100). 2008 doubled up with the launch of the B-Series of fully rugged notebooks with sunlight-readable display and night vision that quickly became Getac's flagship.

In 2010, Getac added the S-Series of semi-rugged notebooks (see Getac S400), and in 2011 the MH-Series of fully rugged smartphones (see Getac MH132) as well as the X-Series of server-class COTS military-grade notebooks (see Getac X500).

2012 saw the new S400, the first semi-rugged to support Windows 8 and featured RFID. Getac also launched an Android-based rugged handheld, an updated B300 with 4G LTE, as well as the Z-Series of thin-and-light rugged Android tablets (see Getac Z710).

In 2013, Getac's fully rugged PS336 handheld gained ATEX anti-explosive certification, and the company launched the V110 ultra-thin/ultra-light yet fully rugged convertible notebook as well as the F110 ultra-thin/ultra-light fully rugged tablet.

In 2014 finally, Getac's 25th year of existence, the company launched the T-Series of compact fully rugged tablets.

Getac celebrates at the 2014 Miramar Air Show

Given Getac's beginnings in aerospace and as a supplier of hardened computing gear to the military, choosing the 2014 Miramar Air Show as a venue to celebrate its 25th anniversary was a natural.

The Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego is the home of the Third Marine Aircraft Wing, and it's also well known for what is arguably among the largest and very best air shows in the nation. Getac invited RuggedPCReview.com to come down and participate in the celebration in their corporate chalet at the show.

Though we stayed at a hotel just minutes away, we had grossly underestimated just how popular the Miramar Air Show is, and got stuck in traffic for a good while, and so we got to see the opening acts in the car from the overpass leading to the air base. That included Otto the helicopter, Sean Tucker's bi-plane Oracle Challenger, and John Collver in his 1944 AT-6 "War Dog."

Once on the premises, we realized just how massive the Miramar Air Base is. There were hundreds of planes, both current and historic, exhibits, booths, demos, all amounting to a wondrous mix of air show and country fair.

It was a gorgeous, hot and sunny day, and a long walk to the corporate pavilion area. Just as we began wilting in the heat, Scott Heath from Synergy Communications and our Getac PR contact spotted us and guided us to the long row of large pavilion tents set up right along the air strip.

The Getac pavilion turned out to be a marvelous place to celebrate! Providing shade in the blazing sun, equipped with ice cold refreshments and snacks, and proudly exhibiting Getac's entire lineup of rugged tablets and notebooks, it was the perfect place to enjoy an air show. And Getac had scored a location practically right in front of where the famed "Blue Angels" were parked!

The pavillions had a seating area outside, with all chairs covered with orange Getac cushions. Getac also provided ear plugs because it can get pretty loud (like when a jet engine-powered truck blasts by, or when there's a succession of sonic booms from a plane above). During lunch our main contact at Getac, John Lamb, welcomed the assembly of some 80 VIPs and members of the media, and also introduced the Getac team that included Getac President Rowina Lee.

What followed were some of the most spectacular and awe-inspiring demonstrations of air power and wizardry we'd ever seen, and all from the close-up vantage point of the Getac pavilion right in the center of the action.

We found out that helicopters can actually fly upside down. At least Charles "Chuck" P. Aaron in his Red Bull BO-105 CBS chopper can.

And we saw some amazing parachuting stunts and performances by the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachuting teams

Refueling planes and choppers in the air must be one of the most logistically challenging operations imaginable, and we saw how it's done with a Marines' Lockheed Martin KC-130J Super Hercules aerial refueling tanker that can dispense up to 600 gallons of fuel per minute from its dual fueling pods.

There were several awe-inspiring helicopter demonstrations as well. The image below shows a Bell UH-1Y helicopter, better known as just the "Huey," in flight with U.S. Marines on board. They also did a totally touching display of patriotism with a number of Marines hanging on to a rope a hundred feet below the Huey, displaying an American flag.

There was also ample opportunity to see some of the ground-based military gear as it slowly paraded by.

Another touching moment was when members of the armed services walked by to great applause, single file, shaking every hand that was extended.

During an intermission between activities, we had a chance to get some hands-on with the Getac T800, a compact, rugged Windows-based, Intel Bay Trail-powered 8.1-inch tablet designed for use in extreme working environments. Though weighing just a bit over two pounds, the the T800 is as tough and rugged as it gets, able to handle temperatures from -6 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit and surviving six foot drops. The high-tech little marvel certainly fit right in with all the state-of-the-art military and aviation machinery and technology on display!

One of the most interesting demos was that of the Marine Corps' MV-22 Ospreys. The Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft that can take off and hover like a chopper, yet is much faster and can carry enormous amounts of weight. Watching the Ospreys in action is an awesome experience and they clearly were a crowd favorite. If more speed is needed, the Marines also use the AV-8B Harrier "jump jet" that also demonstrated its mind-boggling vertical take-off abilities.

Then it was time for what most view as the highlights of any air show, the precision flying stunts of entire squadrons of fighter jet planes.

First up was the Patriots Jet Team. It consists of six L-39 jets (which actually began life as Eastern Block jet trainer aircraft in the 1960s!) specially modified for air show performances. Each plane has 25 gallons of colored smoke oil that the squadron uses for spectacular displays.

Finally, the main attraction, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels! The Blue Angels have been performing stunning precision flight exhibitions since the 1940s, initially demonstrating acrobatics and combat maneuvers with F6 Hellcats, then with F9 Cougars, F-11 Tigers, F-4 Phantoms, A-4 Skyhawks and, finally, the F/A-18 Hornets still used today.

The Blue Angels show began with their support plane, a giant Marine Corps C-130 Hercules affectionally known as "Fat Albert," doing a flying demonstration. You'd think a plane this big could get barely off the ground, but after lumbering down the runway, the big C-130 baffled the crowd by steeply climbing up into the air at a seemingly impossible angle!

The Blue Angels show itself was mesmerizing, an absolute marvel of precision flying and complete command of machinery. It seems humanly impossible to do what those pilots are doing, and yet they manage to fly in absolutely perfect formations, often just feet apart.

And that was that, celebrating Getac's 25th Anniversary in style and at an awesome venue that truly emphasized what the company and its products are all about. Here's to the next 25 years, Getac!

2014 Miramar Air Show