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About this site
Welcome to the Landmark Web, your guide to the issues surrounding personal computing and effective use of your own PC. We've made many resources available here: from broad-based news and views about the computing industry to specific technical support for you and your computer. So dig in and learn more about your computer and the Internet with Landmark as your guide.
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Landmark's Smart Owl
Landmark's original Smart Owl began life as a diagnostic for Landmark Computer Labs' line of personal computers.
We started building IBM-compatible PCs in 1981, about the time IBM introduced its Color Graphics Adapter. The CGA, a video board which enabled PC users to display dot graphics, was a breakthrough for systems integrators like Landmark. For the first time we could provide modular computers that showed color pictures as well as text.
To differentiate Landmark-built PCs from less capable computers, we built systems with lots of public domain and shareware programs pre-installed to meet our clients' needs. That way our clients could learn personal computing using free or inexpensive programs. Later, if they needed it, they could buy commercial software. Our standard suite of software included word processing, data base management, spreadsheet, communications, and graphics software.
One freeware graphics program we furnished let kids--and their parents--select an animal from a list, put a picture of that animal on-screen, and then change its size and shape. We quickly found the owl and incorporated it into a display screen that boasted "Smart Computers by Landmark Computer Labs." It was a useful way to show what Landmark systems could do out-of-the-box, and it sold a lot of computers.
We wrote a ten-line BASIC program to display the Smart Owl whenever a Landmark system was booted, and the Owl took on a life of its own. (Our California cousin once heard the Owl being discussed at a Los Angeles cocktail party, even though we had not yet sold any systems west of the Mississippi.)
A side benefit of showing the Owl at boot time was that if something went wrong with the AUTOEXEC file, the Owl didn't show up. At the peak of our PC sales cycle, we were hearing the same complaint about once a week: "I booted the computer this morning and it doesn't work right. And I didn't see the Owl when I turned it on!" This was a tipoff that the AUTOEXEC file was bad or missing, and made it easy to diagnose the problem.
Landmark's Smart Owl still graces many of our custom systems. You may find him in "My Documents\My Pictures\Sample Pictures". If you're still running a Landmark 486-or-earlier PC* and haven't seen the Owl lately, try typing OWL at the DOS prompt. Chances are you'll see an old friend greet you.
* Yes, people still have them. We last spotted one still set up and connected to its printer in February 2009!
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Watching over Landmark
As the sun sets, the Landmark Smart Owl observes the passing scene.
Our friend the Owl stands sentinel (sits, actually -- he's bolted to a railing) high above Alexandria, Virginia. The Owl has been a symbol of our business since 1981. He's wise; he watches; he keeps the pigeons off our balcony. More about the Smart Owl
Updated Wednesday, November 8, 2006