Scope and Contents
Spanning 1984 to 1998, the Safko International, Inc. Records are divided into seven series and consist of approximately 12.6 cubic feet. Collectively these series document the routine affairs of Safko International, Inc., a company created for the production and distribution of the assistive technology inventions of Lon S. Safko from its formation in 1986 to its dissolution in 1995. During the lifespan of this company there was a growing awareness of and sensitivity towards disability issues within American society. Two significant events associated with this change in American society, were the American with Disabilities Act, 1993, and Christopher Reeve's riding accident in 1995, documented within this collection. In addition to documenting the intersection of American society with the assistive technology field, this collection documents how one man's vision of society and that of his company, in conjunction with perseverance and sacrifices, can transform the lives of individuals such as Franklin Halwood and Liz Jimenez. Lastly, this collection documents the evolution of assistive technology devices to provide for the specific needs of the physically and cognitively disabled.
Executive Records, 1986-1998, is approximately 3.6 cubic feet of documents, the majority of which are correspondence and reports. Other documents include: business cards, faxes, form letters, printed emails, brochures, check stubs, invoices, photocopied newspaper and magazine clippings, blank applications, memoranda, license agreements, scrap paper notes, promotional materials, private placement memoranda, annual reports of other corporations, resumes, receipts, deposit slips, meeting notes, directories, press releases, stock listings, maps, non-disclosure covenants, organizational charts, airline ticket stubs, by-laws, stock certificates, and stock warrants. This series is subdivided into eight subseries, each documenting the operational affairs of Safko International, Inc.
Files within the first subseries, Corporate history and formation, provide background information on the incorporation of Safko International, Inc. and its reformation as Synosure, Inc. in 1996. Other files contain documents listing employees and their positions, biographical sketches, facts about the company and products produced, corporate structuring, and Safko International, Inc.'s by-laws. Files found within the second subseries, Administration, contain operational records, the majority of which deal with the company's relationship with its employees. The third subseries, Correspondence, also deals with operational issues, such as recycling and preparing for conferences. Note that correspondence is found throughout the collection, not just in this subseries. Safko filed most correspondence by names and topics, but correspondence found within this subseries was labeled general correspondence and arranged by year. The next subseries, Business plans, are of drafts and final copies of reports that were revised every two years providing information about officers, legal and financial advisors, descriptions of the SenSei system and its market potential, its business and marketing strategies, foreign business relations, cash flow, distribution, sales history, restructuring strategy, its reseller status of other computer products, and pilot projects. The fifth subseries, Minutes, is comprehensive in coverage except for the period between 1990 and 1992. The most information about company decisions and discussions made at these meetings can be found in the minutes spanning 1992 to 1995.
The next two subseries, Board of Directors and Personnel, are not comprehensive in coverage and contain very few documents. Also, files for some of the employees and Board of Directors are not found within these subseries. Employee files include: Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer (Safko), SenSei Program Director (Martindale), Marketing Assistant (Montgomery), Computer programmer (Hirota), Chief Executive Officer and President after Safko resigned (Schembs), Vice President of Sales and Marketing (Zinn), Vice President of Sales and Marketing (Bowman), and Director of Sales (Owen). Within the two files about Safko is correspondence of a personal nature, his biographical sketch, and curriculum vitae. The final subseries, Business relationships, contains files about individuals and companies whose relationship to Safko International, Inc. was unclear or who had a relationship with the company that covered many areas of business. For instance, although Westinghouse Investment Management Company invested in other businesses, it had a "non-financial" interest in Safko International, Inc. Another example is the Apple Corporation, which provided technical support for Apple Computers that Safko International, Inc. resold, but it also marketed Safko's SenSei System in its Aisle 17 publication.
Financial Records 1987-1998, is approximately 1.3 cubic feet of documents, the majority of which are spreadsheets and reports about the company's financial status and correspondence with companies and individuals about investment opportunities. Other documents include: form letters, faxes, financial charts, resumes, memoranda, confidential summary memoranda, executive summaries, photocopied checks, photocopied newspaper clippings, handwritten notes, financial spreadsheets, stock warrants, agendas, private offering memoranda, confidential summary memoranda, drafts and final copies of financial statements, deposit slips, and business cards. This series is subdivided into four subseries, each documenting the fiscal difficulties that Safko International, Inc. encountered and its strategy for overcoming these difficulties.
The first subseries, Bookkeeping, includes records of liabilities, assets, expenses, inventories, payroll, stock transaction history, plans for preventing bankruptcy, and auditing procedures. The other three subseries deal specifically with the pursuit of Safko International, Inc. for financial assistance. The distinction between the third and fourth subseries is significant. The third subseries, Investors, documents individuals and companies that invested in Safko International, Inc. through loans or purchases of stock. The fourth subseries, includes files of individuals and companies from whom Safko requested financial assistance, but either rejected Safko's plea outright or never responded. It may be that some of these files are of companies and individuals that did in fact invest in Safko International, Inc., but there is no documentation within the files themselves to identify these individuals and companies as investors.
Legal Records, 1986-1997, is approximately 1.5 cubic feet of documents, the bulk of which is correspondence. Other documents in this series include: reports, licenses, payment vouchers, receipts, court summons, memoranda, photocopied newspaper clippings and magazine articles, newsletters, business proposals, faxes, promotional flyers for other products, brochures, meeting minutes, agreements, business cards, thirteen 5.25" computer diskettes, fourteen 3.5" computer disks, and phone messages. This series is divided into five subseries, each documenting the attempts of Safko International, Inc. to protect itself and its product.
The first subseries, Poor mans' patents, are packets of certified mail that Lon S. Safko sent to himself from 1986 to 1994 to provide proof of his status as the inventor of SoftVoice and other assistive technology devices. The second subseries, Legal documents, provide background information about the SenSei trademark and copyright application process. It also includes proof for the status of Safko International, Inc. as a legitimate and registered company having been granted the authority to conduct business. The third subseries, Legal representation and counsel, are files of documents created in the course of business between Safko International, Inc. and its various legal representatives pertaining to specific issues including: advice about copyrights and compliance with the American with Disabilities Act, capitalization, liability insurance program, loan and stock agreements, personal service agreements, pledge agreements, a prospective business venture with the Saudi Amoudi Group, articles of incorporation, and dissolutions. Most of the issues discussed within this subseries are administrative or financial.
The fourth subseries, Disputes, deals with legal battles that do not appear to have reached litigation. Documentation can be found about the contractual relationship with the Austin McDaniel Corporation and its subsequent dissolution, a challenge to the intellectual property copyright to "SenSei," Safko International, Inc.'s payment in arrears to other businesses, and the attempt of a board member to seek financial compensation from the company. The final subseries, Research file, is background research into the legal ramifications of the American with Disabilities Act, possible copyright infringements by other companies, copyright status of companies such as Microsoft, Apple and Motorola and their relationship to Safko International, Inc., information on how to deal with software licenses, and incoming and outgoing correspondence with software creators asking for their permission to incorporate their inventions as a part of the SenSei system.
Research Development, and Production Records, 1984-1996, is approximately one cubic foot of documents. It includes: correspondence, promotional materials, catalogs, drawings, photocopied newspaper clippings and magazine articles, manuals, circuit board diagrams, receipts, newsletter, brochures, six 3.5" computer disks, seventeen 5.25" computer floppy diskettes, invoices, faxes, business cards, agreements, photographs, fact sheets, and labels. This series is divided into five subseries, each documenting the revisions and adaptations of SoftVoice and the SenSei System for marketability purposes.
The first subseries, SoftVoice, consists of seventeen 5.25" computer floppy diskettes and some documents. The only documents found within this subseries are in two files, the majority of which are in the SoftVoice telephone file. In contrast, the second subseries, SenSei, consists mostly of documents and only one 3.5" computer disk. Among this subseries are files providing information on other complimentary products that Safko resold as a part of the SenSei System, instructions for installers and users of the system, adaptations of the system to meet particular needs, and information on suppliers, unit costs and suggested retail prices. As a part of the third subseries are five 3.5" computer disks. The strength of this subseries is its documentation of the Siptroller. The fourth subseries, Proprietary relationships, documents the pursuit of and/or actual relationship between Safko International, Inc. and other companies involved in selling, manufacturing, and/or distributing assistive technology devices. Depending on the individual needs of the client, Safko International, Inc. offered and sometimes sold these hardware devices and software programs as a part of the SenSei System. Ways in which the system was or could have been adapted through proprietary relationships include: establishing fire alarm and medical alert systems, programming languages, graphics, European modifications, word prediction software, iconic keyboards, and alternative input devices. The final subseries, Research concerning product development, is like the aforementioned subseries, but there is no documentation to prove that the companies contained within this subseries ever had a proprietary relationship with Safko International, Inc. In fact, within this subseries are files about companies that competed with Safko International, Inc. in the field of voice recognition and imitation. A third aspect of this subseries is that it contains research on technologies, like virtual reality, which were ways in which the SenSei system could be enhanced. This subseries contains documentation of Safko International, Inc.'s involvement in pilot studies to assess how assistive technology devices and systems like SenSei can make a difference in the work field.
Marketing, Publicity, and Sales Records, 1986-1996, is approximately 3.1 cubic feet of documents, including: correspondence, faxes, memoranda, drafts and final copies of agreements, reports, press releases, advertisements, fact sheets, agendas, photocopied newspaper clippings and magazine articles, transcripts, photographs, award applications, diagrams, annual reports, business cards, presentation outlines, notes, delivery slips, invoices, inventory lists, and diagrams. This series is divided into twelve subseries, each documenting an important part Safko International, Inc's. efforts to sell and create public awareness of their products. Also documented is that Safko International, Inc's. marketing to hospitals, rehabilitation facilities and consultants, nursing homes, insurance companies, government agencies, and individuals through mailings, advertisements, telephone calls, and personal relationships.
The first subseries, Product and company information, contains documents that are similar to those in the first subseries of Executive Records. The main difference is that these files are not the master copies. Also, very few files of this subseries actually focus on company history; the majority are documents created to assist individuals, other businesses, and company employees in providing background information about the product, finding funding to purchase a system, and understanding how the SenSei System works. The second subseries, Sales records, provides information on sales transactions. Some of the delivery slips and invoices within this subseries are also located in client files. The third subseries, Marketing agencies and agents, documents the relationship Safko International, Inc. had with public relations agencies. Of all the subseries, this is the one with the majority of information. It reveals the techniques the company and its public relations agents used in trying to initiate contact with other individuals and companies. For instance, there is detailed information about the construction of promotional materials along with timelines and progress reports assessing the work of the marketing agents in meeting the needs of Safko International, Inc. The fourth subseries, Promotional materials, contain documents whose purpose was to sell the Sensei system and other assistive technology inventions created by Lon S. Safko. Unlike the first subseries, Product and company information, the purpose of these documents was to persuade prospective customers. The fifth subseries, Advertisements and publicity, records publicity garnered through magazines, newspapers, video, television, and radio. The sixth subseries, Awards, documents publicity of a different sort. It documents the recognition Lon S. Safko and his inventions received for benefiting society. Within this subseries, one of the files documents the creation of a museum display at the Arizona Science Center. In addition to creating public awareness of the SenSei System, this series documents the training of sales representatives, sales transactions, and distribution.
The seventh subseries, Sales representatives' materials consist of documents used to assist in training the representatives. The eighth subseries, Sales representatives, is of files organized according to the name of the representative. Besides invoices for sales transactions, these files also contain agreements outlining responsibilities, a listing of who to go to for answers to legal questions, information on conventions, and definitions of pertinent medical terms necessary for a sales representative to know. Note that not all files are comprehensive or provide the same kinds of information. The ninth subseries, Conferences and demonstrations, are of presentations given by Safko International, Inc. to inform others about their products and to build relationships with other companies. Representatives of Safko International, Inc. attended to learn from other companies. One such conference was an Innovative Thinking Conference, in which the attendees were involved in brainstorming new marketing ideas.
The tenth subseries, Distribution, documents the expansion of the SenSei System into domestic and foreign markets. Included is background information about various companies and markets, agreements made with other companies, and the process for buying back equipment that distributors were unable to sell. The eleventh subseries, Prospective clients and business contacts, are files for which there is no definitive relationship built with Safko International, Inc. Within these files are letters to prospective clients asking to give them a demonstration, or letters of appreciation for a demonstration given, but no evidence of a follow-up.
Some of the files are of contacts initiated with marketing agencies or distributors that do not appear to have developed into an actual relationship. The last subseries, clients, is composed mostly of invoices and correspondence pertaining to the purchase or lease of SenSei Systems by school districts, individuals, churches, hospitals, and rehabilitation facilities. Information about: who the product was shipped to, the cost, representatives or distribution companies responsible for the sale, notes of adaptations to the system for individual needs, assessments by consultants, brief history of some of the individuals who purchased the systems, installation notes, and problems they encountered are found here. Like other files found elsewhere, this subseries is not comprehensive. Many files only include the invoices, but others include more information.
Photographs and Scrapbooks, 1987-1995, is approximately 0.9 cubic feet. Contained are: photographs, negatives, pins, thank you notes, photocopied newspaper clippings, agendas, programs, calendars, memoranda, correspondence, mailers, exhibitor ribbons, stickers, and newsletters. This series is divided into two subseries, each documenting the routine affairs of Safko International, Inc. and the individuals involved.
The first subseries, Photographs and negatives, is mostly promotional photographs of the products or individuals using the products. The second subseries, Scrapbooks, are mostly photographs, but includes other types of documents, and some artifacts. Most photographs found in the scrapbooks are not found elsewhere, but there is some overlap with the first subseries. Photographs in this subseries document board meetings, employees at work, assembling the mass mailings, wall hangings, inside and outside of Safko International, Inc.'s offices, Austin McDaniel Corporation offices, attorney's offices, meetings with TeleNova and InfoLogics, an investment reception, products Safko International, Inc. sold, system modifications, computer screens, the packaged product, setup for taking promotional photographs, setup for presentations, demonstration in a hospital setting, conferences, television interviews, Franklin Halwood, and unidentified individuals. In both subseries, very few of the photographs are captioned.
The seventh series, Audiovisual Materials, 1986-1996, is approximately one cubic foot of materials, encompassing twenty-nine 1⁄2" VHS tapes and four standard audio cassette tapes. Accordingly this series is divided into two subseries, Audio cassettes and Audio visual tapes, both documenting the marketing of the SenSei System. Additionally the second subseries also documents presentations given by Safko International, Inc. representatives and instruction manuals showing how to use the SoftVoice and SenSei systems.