Fadal and the Walkman

By Lloyd and Noah Graff

Thirty years ago, the first Sony Walkman hit the market and revolutionized the portable music world. For $200 a middle class consumer was finally liberated from the big, cumbersome, old tape recorders. It was the iPod of its time, a small, portable, sexy device perfect for exercise or travel.

In that same year Francis de Caussin with his three sons Adrian, Dave, and Larry were in the process of radically changing the CNC machine tool world out of their little shop in Los Angeles.

So the story goes, the first Fadal vertical machining center, the VMC45, was homemade with a control made in-house with off-the-shelf components. The equipment was for in-house use because the Japanese and German equivalents were much more expensive, using Fanuc controls that were deemed overpriced overkill for running a fancy milling machine. Neighboring companies heard about the machine, realized its potential and asked to buy a copy. Word of mouth catapulted sales.

Gene Haas of Haas Automation almost immediately saw the same opportunity in locally built CNC. A Fadal—Haas rivalry brought prices down precipitously. They left behind weary old brands like Kearney & Trecker and Bridgeport.

The 1980 IMTS show put both Fadal and Haas brands onto the world market and made L.A. the machine tool capital of America overnight.

Question: Can anybody discuss the early rivalry between Haas and Fadal?

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