Picture this: it's December 31, 1999. You are at a classy New Years Eve party with hundreds of other people. As the turning of the millennium approaches, you whip out your trusty 200LX and receive some e-mail from a friend halfway around the world through your 56K wireless e-mail card. The lights are dim, but you easily read your message by the glow of your white-light backlight. "Happy New Year," the message reads, followed by a long message telling you about the New Years party in Pakistan. A few digital photos of the party are attached. You scroll through it rapidly with your triple-speed CPU, and save the photos to your 512 meg internal RAM drive. Sound too good to be true? Well, with Times2 Tech and Mack Baggette, you never know.
Times2 Tech is one of the best-known names in the HP Palmtop user community. Almost everyone who owns a palmtop and uses it has heard of this Alabaman company. Many thousands of us have had our palmtop speeded up, or had a larger internal drive installed, by Times2 Tech. Many hardware improvements have been made available in the USA that would otherwise be available only in Japan.
But that is not the unusual part. After all, many companies have imitated Times2 Tech's product line, offering comparable upgrades. The availability of upgrades is not much in and of itself. What sets Times2 Tech apart from the rest is that every customer who has dealt with them has good things to say about them. Why is it that everyone who deals with Times2 Tech comes away happy? It can only be due to the tireless efforts of Mack Baggette, the man behind the company, and his amazing wife Christine, who handles the business during the day while taking care of 1-year-old Victoria.
Mack was born in Mobile, Alabama, in 1967. His family moved to Germany in 1980, when his father, working for the Corps of Engineers, decided to make a change of venue. This was where he got his first computer, an Atari 400, when he was 14. It was this computer he spent most of his teenage years using, teaching himself to program in BASIC and 6502 assembler. Of course, he also enjoyed the many games available for the Atari. "I thought it was the greatest thing to ever hit the scene for use in the home," recollects Mack. "I spent many a night attached to that thing." Around that time, Mack also got his first job, working for the Corps of Engineers as a PC system installer and upgrader. He also programmed minicomputers and mainframes in Pascal and assembler. Mack held that job until 1985, when he returned to the United States. There, he went to college at the University of South Alabama while holding down a job. In 1987, Mack started working at BellSouth as a Co-op, and he has been there since.
Late in 1993, Mack's life changed forever at a family Christmas gathering, when he met Christine. She had been invited along by one of Mack's aunts, who Christine thought of as her "other mother." They went out for the first time on Christmas Day, 1993.
After four-and-a-half months, Mack decided to take the plunge and ask Christine to marry him. In a demonstration of the creativity that would later benefit palmtop owners everywhere, Mack planned an unusual method of proposing. On the evening of Friday the 13th of May, 1994, he took Christine on a drive to the local cemetery. As Christine pictured axe murderers hiding behind tombstones, Mack pulled out a ring and said, "Until death do us part..." Much relieved, Christine accepted, and the wedding was on.
A few months later, Mack purchased his first palmtop, an HP 95LX, to use as a remote control. Unfortunately, as many of us have discovered, the limited range of the palmtops makes them less than ideal for this task. Finding that it would not work out, he gave the 95LX to his wife-to-be Christine to use in planning the wedding. However, when he noticed how useful the tiny little machine could be, with its appointment scheduler and phone book, Mack decided the infrared limitation was something he could live with, and purchased a 100LX for himself. After that, whenever he would upgrade he gave the old unit to Christine. Apparently the 95LX worked well as a wedding planner; Mack and Christine married in June 1995. Later on in 1995, Mack got a 200LX.
Around the same time, Mack ordered a speed kit from Japan. He began tinkering with his 100LX and decided that he could make his own speed kit, even better than the one from Japan. He sold a few kits, and then officially decided to make a business out of it. Mack works full time as a software analyst for BellSouth, so Christine runs the business during the day. After coming home from work, Mack will do the palmtop upgrades and customer callbacks; he spends between 10 and 15 hours a week doing repairs and upgrades.
Since the company was founded, the original speed upgrades have been improved with better drivers, the ever-increasing memory upgrades have come on the scene, and Times2 Tech has trained several dealers to install upgrades as well. Mack has personally upgraded several thousand palmtops, and has sold products in kit form to many more thousands of individuals and dealers worldwide. "We are doing extremely well at the moment," says Mack. There have been other changes as well: The Baggettes' first child, Victoria, was born at the end of 1996, and is now a lovely one-year-old. Even with the many changes and the vast amount of customers that Times2 Tech has had, every customer is satisfied. How do they do it? "I will make things right for those who purchase my upgrades no matter what," explains Mack. "I want to treat our customers like I would like to be treated by other companies." In a world where profits are increasingly the main focus of business, the customer-oriented philosophy of Times2 Tech is refreshing-- especially because many companies will say this, but as those who've dealt with Times2 Tech know, Mack means what he says.
What are Times2 Tech's plans for the future, now that Educalc has folded and NSW has gotten out of the 200LX business, and HP has decided not to further develop the DOS palmtop line? "We have higher memory upgrades in the works, and we hope to work on Windows CE machines when and if they settle down on the designs," says Mack.
For those who wonder, Mack still owns a 200LX of his own, which he uses to develop his drivers, the phone and appointment books... and games. (Even palmtop giants like Mack have to relax!)
Copyright 1999, David Sargeant.
Last Updated 1-1-1999