Daktronics Collection

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Reference code

MA 081

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Daktronics Collection



2.0 linear feet [2 records boxes]

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Administrative history

Established on December 9, 1968 with $200,000, Daktronics, Inc., was founded by two SDSU Electrical Engineering professors (Dr. Aelred Kurtenbach and Dr. Duane Sander) to offer university graduates an alternative to leaving the area for permanent employment. By 2006 (38 years later), it employed 1,400 full-time/700 part-time (April, 2006), had netted $21 million on revenue of $329 million (12 months preceding October, 2006), and was “the world’s leading supplier of electronic scoreboards, large electronic display systems, marketing services, digital messaging solutions and related software and services for sports, commercial and transportation applications.” / Initially, Daktronics intended to develop biomedical instrumentation, but following its first major contract (1970) for the Utah legislature’s electronic voting system (later in 40+ state assemblies and the UN General Assembly), it serendipitously moved into scoreboards with the three-sided pyramid “Matside” brand wrestling scoreboard (1971), which evolved into the most complete line of “All Sport” scoreboards and timing systems (later found in every state and foreign countries). This solid-state circuitry was then utilized in time/temperature and message/animation systems at banks, shopping centers, motels, high schools, colleges, civic centers, etc. Combining the scoreboards and messaging boards resulted in custom-designed scoring and information systems popular in universities and arenas across the country. / Daktronics uses new and existing technology to improve its products. “Glow Cube” reflective light technology (which are high intensity electromagnetically controlled individual lights approximately one-inch square) enabled Daktronics to offer the most complete line of information systems available in 1989. In the 1990’s, Daktronics enhanced its “Starburst” incandescent color technology, using new reflector and lens design to present up to 16.7 million colors. It also acquired and enhanced technology for LED displays. / Daktronics has made scoreboards for many Olympics, beginning with the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid and continuing with the 1988, 1992, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2002 Olympics. “It’s fun to be involved in the Olympics, but they come only every two years, so it’s not something to build your business around,” said Jim Morgan, Chief Executive of Daktronics. In 2006, 35% of Daktronics sales were to the commercial market, such as Walgreens, CVS, Times Square, Las Vegas strip, and billboard operators, including Lamar Advertising. / Daktronics’ initial public offering was in 1994. In 2006, Daktronics was one of only four public companies in SD with more than $300 million in sales. Also, in 2006, Daktronics opened a 100,000 square foot plant in Sioux Falls, SD, its first major expansion outside of Brookings, SD, its home. At that time, 55% of Daktronics staffers were current SDSU students or alums. / “We established our culture in those early days.” said founder Al Kurtenbach. “We became very customer-oriented. That was extremely important to us. We did everything possible to meet their commitments. We have a lot of great war stories about what our people do to make sure things work well for our customer when the big moment comes.”

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Scope and content

Materials from 1978 to 2007 related to Daktronics, Inc., collected by Charles R. Peterson, long-time employee (hired in 1978) of Daktronics, including internal publications, news stories, press releases, annual reports (1995-2006), stockholder reports, promotional brochures and a few research reports/case studies.

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Conditions governing access

This collection is open to researchers without restrictions. The materials in the Archives do not circulate and may be used in-house only.

Researchers conducting extensive research are asked to make an advance appointment to access archival material. Please call or e-mail prior to visiting the collection and indicate as much detail as possible about a particular topic and intended use.

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Conditions governing reproduction

South Dakota State University supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections. Nonetheless, access to some items may be restricted as a result of their fragile condition or by contractual agreements with donors.

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MA 81

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