Memory Lane

Welcome to My Drawing Board's Memory Lane

Joe Auricchio, Sr. sat his 12 year old son, Joe, Junior, atop a hard stool in a dank room aside a garage in the "family's" monument retail store at Farmingdale, New York. The room had one window with a tall A/C that blocked most of the sun light. Which was perfect because the room served as the location of the drafting area's Blu-Ray machine. Called the full size machine because it used large cellulose plates with black ink lines on it -  the full size images of tomb stones - that ran through a lighted bottom portion of the machine along with a light sensitive yellow piece of  paper. Once the  plate and sheet rolled out of the bottom machine, the paper, now white except where the black lines had perverted the machine's light from removing the yellow, was placed into a machine that changed the yellow into dark brown lines. It took a hardy amount of ammonia to complete this process.  The room was under 12 x 12 with two doors - one leading into the garage, the other out to a large showroom. When the machine was employed,  the company's drafter (called draftsmen then) spent as little time in the room as possible. The Blu-Ray sat atop of a broad boxy cabinet and opposite it, in front of father and son rested and old drafting board. The very board that once sat in the "family's" first retail outlet in Middle Village, Queens, NY. in 1928. It sat proud and showed little wear. Made of oak with the board covered in oak tag. Many a design were formulated on that old board and many a renowned designer labored at it. One such was Hugo Calderera. A among his peers of the day, Hugo was a midget and thus labored atop this old board.

Designs were created on vellum the transferred to stencil right on the blank tomb stone for process. Cut away the areas to be carved and finished. Until the invention of the Blu-Ray each and every tomb stone required its individual drawing on vel. This magical machine allowed the drafter to transfer popular designs onto the 'plastic' plates and never have to draw 'that' design again.

In 1961, in an Italian family, as soon as you could hold a thought for more than a few seconds you helped out in the "family" business. Joe Junior was about to begin his career as a drafter for the family. Not that the boy ever showed any skill for drawing. It was the entry point for anyone who entered the stone trades. To most appreciate stone it is imperative that the introduction to it begin at how to layout design onto it.

Joe, Sr. held few redeeming virtues. Lest of all he harbored no patience and forever believed the faults of others were present in order to demean him. Thus within short order he was berating Junior for not be able to draw a proper rose design. Accusing the boy of trying to embarrass his father before all the trade. Born his first of five, young Joe lived with this attitude for 12 years and, perhaps by the full knowledge of his father, young Joe always reacted to scorn with the courage to do it right next time. He did, too well. By the time Joe was 25 he had performed all the different aspects of monument creation from the point of the sale to setting the stone. Three degrees in drafting included mechanical drafting, architectural drawing an design and a degree from the Barre, VT. Spalding school of stone design.

By the time Joe Junior was ready to take the helm of the "family" business that business became "his father's business" due to divorce and the man's simple minded arrogance. Instead the boy was placated with handouts and back patting.

During the 1970's Joe's younger brother Frank developed a passion for computers - the Atari system to be specific. Joe ignored his brother's passion until one day Frank explained to Joe that there was this program in the computer studies (that was pretty much all computers were back then) called CADD. Computer Aided Drafting and Design.  Frank also introduced his oldest brother to a fad called BBS. Electronic Bulletin Board System. Within a year, Joe had transferred all his father's designs onto tapes and the brothers created a BBS to share those designs with enthusiasts. In 1981 there were 3 designers in the stone trades who swapped designs and created an archive today known as My Drawing Board. Those original designers were also Networking pioneers. They were, Joseph Kerwin,  Francis Auricchio and Joe, Jr.  Frank lost interest in the BBS in the early stages. Joe  dropped off the "line."  (The BBS system was an analog system, not like the true data systems we employ today.)  Joe continued the archive as it grew over the years. And he's still her today.

What you see today was never the exact intention of its founders. Firstly, they named themselves The Vector BBS meaning that the archive contained vector (CAD) drawings. Most BBS then were based on the newly created eMail protocol as well as the CHAT modules and the up and coming data base programs. Vector BBS was a data base. Those who phoned in via a modem would search the data base and swap design by their name. It wasn't until the mid 80's when Joe posted a Versa-CAD program that could view the designs that callers could actually review the designs. Secondly, although the BBS was not a means for profit, it actually sufficed as the storage for all of the "family's" designs. Joe, Jr. started his own business that created stone works for the trade and some public clients. He called the business ADSTONE DESIGNS. This business was created with the help of a man named Eddie Val. Ed's idea was to use Joe's black (diabase) granite as advertisements above urinals in lavatories across America. By the time that business flopped - within a year - ADSTONE finished out that year as a design studio that produced design and stencil for the monument trade. Some work included non-trade activity because ADSTONE had gather a large amount of non-secular art work. Vector BBS changed it's name to ADSTONE BBS. During this time - 1987. The Internet was active. It was an offspring of the DARPnet - a military program that got hijacked by the colleges. ADSTONE lived on the Internet. But not as we know it today. ADSTONE was a BBS.  A caller came in mainly for designs but could also reach the Internet and eMail and FTP through ADSTONE. Internet was an aside. A thrill for geeks, shortwave radio types and those who sought out activities beyond the reach of the Law. But it also allowed ADSTONE a means to have granite workers across the globe make that modem call without paying big phone bills. When the WWW started up in 1993, ADSTONE purchased the domain name and the back office of the company learned how to create web pages over night!

But was not anything ADSTONE DESIGNS had been. Joe had turned his attention away from stone production. He actually retired from the stone trade in 1988. Now he had a florist and one of America's very first dial-up service. In 1994 ADSTONE boasted more POP's (Points Of  Presents, where you could locally access the Internet) than even America Online. However, ADSTONE had a reputation of being called the Death Care Network, thus it was kindly averted. The office, behind Joe's flower shop on Wellwood Avenue in West Babylon, NY was run by Joe, Kathy Sinnot who handed the books and the love and suicide calls (online chats.) Jim Chelais handled the maintenance of the T-1 and computers along with some respected Net pioneers like 'Fabian, Louis Castelli and several interlopers which was the way back then. Eddie Zawasky designed side-by-side with Joe while Jim and Lisa Anderson cut and shipped the stencil world wide. Come 1995, ADSTONE DESIGN was considered the stone trades 3rd largest studio. Joe sold it off to Eddie in 1996 and Joe settled into his flower shop, keeping only the ADSTONE archive. He changed it's name to GemRock.  A name reminiscent of one his father now defunct company seal mark. 

That was the rebirth of the archive. It was a not-for-profit archive where artists came to contribute, swap and view vector CAD artwork.  Because it was not part of a business to cover expenses. Joe decided to charge a subscriber's fee to cover expenses. That model remains today.

In 1998, Mono-Type sued GemRock foe $35,000,000 because all the fonts at the archive were copyrighted. Most, if  not all True Type fonts are copyrighted.  Joe lost the suit. However, because the archive is not-for-profit, the courts merely drained Joe's savings and declared that GemRock could no longer exist and that Joe was never allowed to post True Type fonts online forever.

Thus we are now My Drawing Board.  We cannot post true type fonts.  And we are still the largest archive of CAD design in the world.



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