Thursday, November 01, 2012

Howard W. Sams

SAMS Publishing was founded in 1946 by Howard W. Sams. In the beginning they mostly published radio schematics and repair manuals.Today they do a lot of self-teach software and computer books. A of chang lot happened in between then and now. Ironically, founder Sams was not a radio man, not even an engineer.

He was born in 1897. He studied law but I find no record of him earning a degree or what institution he attended. He went into sales, and worked at Goodyear, General Battery and PR Mallory. More here.  At Mallory he handled sales literature and got involved with the technical instructions. At Mallory he developed the"Radio Service Encyclopedia" and the "MYE Technical Journal."their success got him promoted bu tit also gave him the idea he could strike out on his own. In 1946 he founded Howard W. Sams & Company Inc.  His first idea was his Photofact folder series which used large clear images of the devices and big fold-out schematics to explain maintenance. they were well-formatted and wasy to use. It was very popular and became an industry standard. More here.

There are two versions of how his publishing company and  ITT became entangled. The school claims on their website that in 1966 The ITT Technical Institute was bought by Sams. The school had been founded in 1935 as the Acme School of Die Design. Basically that Sams bought an existing school. Other books record that Sams opened Sams Technical Institute in Indianapolis in 1963, then Sams sold out to the  New York-based ITT Corp, which included  ITT Technical Institute. I find this second version more plausible. But the first version isn't impossible. the Culver Citizen Newspaper records that profits were up 37% in 1961 at Sams. It was a healthy business.

For what it's worth the Sams site says it was acquired by ITT in 1967. Then in 1985,  ITT sold its publishing division to Macmillan. In 1987, Macmillan was acquired by Robert Maxwell who split Sam's into three divisions, transferring the computer book division into what later became Macmillan Computer Publishing. Maxwell was a British media magnate who later was found to be stealing from hsi company's pensions to fund his luxury yacht lifestyle. He liquidated everything else, finally selling the Sams name in 1990 to two former Sams' executives, Richard Hauser and Damon Davis who used some venture capital money. In 1995 Davis and Hauser sold it all to Bell Atlantic.Bell Atlantic held onto it for 5 years then sold the entire Howard W. Sams Company to a California dot com, eCatalogs. Damon Davis swooped in and bought just Photofacts from eCatalogs, he was later forced to sell it to AGS Capital (more VC weasels) under an unscrupulous non-compete clause.  Howard W. Sams died in 1974, before ITT sold off his publishing company.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:42 AM

    My father was a book editor at Sams for many years. Also wrote one (Know Your Oscilloscope, by Paul C. Smith).

    I don't remember much about the company (he retired in 1975) but they had a great Christmas party that was a treat for us kids with a really nice gift.

    He did take me in to work once or twice and I remember a setup where they were photographing chassis for PhotoFacts.

    There was also a connection with Bobs Merrill publishing.