Our History

photo of PRC's first device, the auto dialer that dialed telephonesThe History of the Prentke Romich Company (PRC) IS the History of alternative and augmentative device technology.

It all began in the early 1960's when Barry Romich, a freshman engineering student at Case Western Reserve University, met Ed Prentke, an engineer at Highland View Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. The two men soon found they had a similar mission: to help individuals with disabilities. Prentke and Romich decided to form a partnership and, in 1966, the Prentke Romich Company was born.

1960s

  • 1966: Ed Prentke and Barry Romich meet and form Prentke Romich Company.
  • 1969: PRC produces its first communication device, a typing system based on a discarded Teletype machine.

1970s

  • 1973: PRC moves from Barry’s basement in Madisonburg to its first facility in Shreve, OH.
  • 1975: The Veterans Administration orders a large quantity of Automatic Dialing Telephones, for users to make and receive telephone calls. This order gives PRC the boost it needs to grow.
  • 1975: PRC welcomes the ECU-1, a 14-channel scanning environmental control device that permitted control of external devices.
  • 1979: The Express 1, a microprocessor-based communication device, is developed.

photo of PRC's first laser headmouse1980s

  • 1982: Prentke Romich teams with Bruce Baker of SEMANTIC COMPACTION® to incorporate the MINSPEAK® vocabulary in PRC devices.
  • 1982: The Express 3, the first device with synthesized speech capabilities, is introduced.
  • 1983: The MINSPEAK 1 (a repackaged Express 3 with MINSPEAK) is officially introduced at the 1st MINSPEAK Conference.
  • 1984: The Touch Talker, the first portable device from PRC, debuts.
  • 1984: The company moves to its present location in Wooster.
  • 1985: The LightTalker begins production. The device introduces a streamlined, tethered headpointing system for users unable to use their hands for access.
  • 1986: Liberator, Ltd. is formed in the UK, with PRC owning half interest.
  • 1988: PRC enters the digitally recorded speech arena with IntroTalker.
  • 1989: Prentke Romich Europe is formed.

1990s

  • 1990: Prentke Romich Deutschland is formed.
  • 1993: PRC receives U.S. Department of Education grant for Unity® development. This gives the company the ability to develop new language systems.
  • 1995: As a result of the grant, PRC launches Unity, the foundation for the vocabulary in most PRC products.
  • 1996: Saltillo, a sister company to PRC, is created.
  • 1997: PRC begins sponsoring the annual lecture at the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) conference. The lecture is renamed to honor Edwin and Esther Prentke.

photo of Ed Prentke with young man in wheelchair with an early speech-generating device2000s

  • 2000: The Pathfinder, the first product to introduce an LCD touchscreen as part of the device, launches.
  • 2001: The Vantage, the first all-touchscreen device, is introduced.
  • 2005: The ECO-14, with Windows accessibility, email and Internet capabilities, is released.
  • 2006: In Australia, PRI Liberator Pty Ltd is created. In 2007, the company is renamed Liberator Pty Ltd.
  • 2006: PRC receives ISO certification.
  • 2007: PRC introduces the Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP) language system for those with autism.
  • 2008: PRC acquires Saltillo.
  • 2008: PRC becomes a 100% employee-owned company.
  • 2009: PRC launches the AAC Language Lab® as a resource for parents, teachers and clinicians to encourage language development.
  • 2009: The Center for AAC & Autism is established to promote Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP).
  • 2009: The ECOPoint, the first device to utilize an eye-tracking system, is released.

2010s

  • 2010: The Essence® family of languages, with a vocabulary designed for literate adults, is introduced.
  • 2012: PRC releases its first app, LAMP Words for Life.
  • 2012: The Accent® 1200 is introduced. For the first time, PRC no longer manufactures devices, instead starting with an external product.
  • 2012: NuEye®, a state-of-the-art eye-tracking system, is released.
  • 2014: Realize Language™, an innovative, online data-monitoring services is brought to market.
  • 2015: PRC releases CoreScanner™, a progressive vocabulary program for switch users.
  • 2015: NuPoint®, a head-tracking system for those with limited hand use, is introduced. The module is able to be used on all PRC devices as an additional feature.
  • 2015: PRiO®, an iPad-based communication tool, featuring the iPad Air and LAMP Words for Life language system, debuts.
  • 2016: PRC celebrates its 50th anniversary.
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