• Dr. Evil Laboratories

  • by kentsu

This blog recounts the history of Dr. Evil Laboratories, the creator, manufacturer, and retail sales of peripherals and software for the Commodore 64, including the Imagery! adventure game system, the SID Symphony Stereo cartridge, and the Swiftlink-232 cartridge.


The Doctor's not Really Evil, Honest!

When you're desperate for a name, anything will do. We're lucky we got a good one!

I mentioned in the first post that Ray, Roy, and I weren't exactly Titans of Industry. No marketing majors here and a grand total of zero business classes between us (AFAIK). So what do three nerds do when they need to come up with a company name? Why, they look at each other uncomfortably and try to come up with something!

In our case, we were saved, luckily, by some of Roy's family history. Roy started at Purdue one year ahead of Ray and me. His cousin John Greaves joined him in the fall of 1985, the same time Ray and I arrived. Roy and John hung out quite a bit as kids. One of their favorite pasttimes involved a made-up madman named, you guessed it, Dr. Evil. (Remember, this was years before the Mike Myers films. I smell back royalties!)

Good old Dr. Evil was apparently quite an entrepreneur, because Roy and John thought up a whole host of dastardly products with his name on them, all beginning with "Dr. Evil's..." Roy remembered that one had the not-so-politically-correct-these-days name of Dr. Evil's Terrorist Kit. Once the product was named, the game was to figure out what the product had to be. Roy said they created page after page of world-destroying products, all in grand detail. Would be fun to find that notebook!

When Roy suggested we use Dr. Evil in the company name, it might have been in the form of "Dr. Evil's Laboratory". I don't remember now for sure. It would have a been a short hop from there to the plural Dr. Evil Laboratories--much more fitting for a world-dominating evil genius such as he; in no way would one measly lab suffice! (And yes, it's also easier to pronounce.)

We all had a good laugh at the idea, and frankly, we couldn't think of anything better. It scored off the charts in originality. None of us seemed too concerned about having to explain what the name meant; we figured the more important thing was to have a name that (a) would not be confused with any other company and (b) was memorable. Mission accomplished! I don't recall ever being accosted by an incensed grandmother or religious conservative in person or via the U.S. Postal Service, so I guess everyone got the joke; or they were too scared to ask...

And the name did catch people's attention. Issue #24 of INFO (January/February 1989) began an announcement of the first SID Symphony cartridge with "Possessing one of the all-time best company names..." Heady stuff for a bunch of amateur C-64 enthusiasts!

One regret I have is that we didn't do more to bring the Dr. Evil character to life visually; that's one of the main reasons I prominently featured artist Vince Martin's lovely caricature of Dr. Evil in the masthead for the blog. Vince also drew the first Dr. Evil Labs logo, featured on the new Dr. Evil Laboratories FaceBook page. You'll get to see a lot more of Vince's artwork when we publish the one and only issue of The Image, the newsletter associated with the Imagery! adventure game system. Vince started at Purdue the same year as Kent and Ray, and lived right across the hall from Kent in the Wiley dorm. More serendipity!

Kent Sullivan

P.S. Roy reminded me that he was in the same dorm (Cary Quad) as Craig Barnhart and that's how they met. Craig started in 1985 too so Roy was a vaunted sophomore (ooooh) when we all met him.

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daytona400f 8/28/2012

That's a cool story! thanks for sharing!

kentsu 8/30/2012

You are most welcome! Thanks for commenting.

core 10/25/2012

Hey nice article series. Thanks for writing it.