Tech and Tradition in Deep Ellum

Henry Ford and Mark Cuban can’t be wrong

Deep Ellum sign
Deep Ellum is more than music

DFWSEM is thrilled to be hosting State of Search in Deep Ellum this November. When folks think of Deep Ellum, they usually have music in mind. And with good reason. The blues wasn’t born there, but it certainly spent some time in the neighborhood. Legendary Texas blues musician Blind Lemon Jefferson lived in Deep Ellum, where he played with Lead Belly and met T-Bone Walker. Bessie Smith performed there. Texas Bill Day as well. There’s even a song, Deep Ellum Blues, that’s been covered by everyone from Les Paul to the Grateful Dead.

But don’t let the music fool you, even though the area’s current resurgence has led to clubs, bars, and performance venues reopening at a stunning rate — technology and Deep Ellum are old buddies.

A technology tradition

In 1887, the Continental Gin Company opened in Deep Ellum, expanding over time to several warehouses on Elm Street and Truck Avenue. This wasn’t the sort of gin you mix with tonic, but the sort of gin that processes cotton. Founder Robert S. Munger eventually became the largest manufacturer of cotton processing equipment in the entire United States.

Detroit wasn’t the only home to auto manufacturing, either. Few realize Henry Ford chose Deep Ellum as the site of an assembly plant in 1914, and Model T’s as well as other machines rolled off the Deep Ellum assembly line until the 1930s. In the 1950s, Adam Hats manufactured fashionable hats out of that building which is now the home of  loft apartments in high demand.

I know what you’re waiting for, though. You want to hear about Mark Cuban and the “billions-with-a-b” tech deal that put Deep Ellum on the cyber map.

Picture of former Broadcast.com building
Former Broadcast.com building can still be seen standing on the corner of Commerce and Crowdus in Deep Ellum

Broadcast.com

Back in the infancy of the Internet, 1995, Cameron Jaeb founded a company called Cameron Broadcast Systems. The initial plan was to use shortwave radio to transmit broadcasts at sports venues. That grew into an idea for a hand-held device that would receive satellite programming. Then basketball fans Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner, missing their team back at the University of Indiana, decided to go big or go home with a refounded company called AudioNet.com (later changed to Broadcast.com) and started playing with audio on the Internet before most people realized audio could be heard over the Information Super Highway.

That didn’t stop Yahoo, though. They bought Broadcast.com in 1999 for stock. Lots of stock. $5.7 billion worth of stock.

Of course, in Internet years, 1999 was ages ago. While there’s no more Broadcast.com, it did leave a legacy in Deep Ellum in the form of blazingly fast Internet access. Ellum.net is a full fiber optic network that gives the area connectivity that will blow past the spotty hotel Wi-Fi plaguing your average professional conference. During State of Search, attendees will be able to upload, livestream, and network so fast they’ll be ruined for any other venue.

Yet another reason you should register today. You are coming, aren’t you?


Stephanie_StuderStephanie Studer is a writer, editor, cook, and massive nerd who calls Dallas home. A social and content marketer, she’s deeply in love with all that language can do. She blogs at storytellingforsuccess.wordpress.com, tweets at @Editrix_Steph, and posts entirely too many pictures of dishes she’s made on Instagram. Don’t ask her about ukuleles or comic books unless you have nothing to do for the next several hours.