TMIO, maker of the intelligent oven, is MIA

Is TMIO, the maker of the intelligent oven that you could program from the road via a cellphone or Net connection, gone for good?

Is TMIO, the company that made a pioneering intelligent oven its users could operate via cell phone or Net connection, truly out of business?

I wish we could find an answer.

Is the TMIO intelligent oven going the way of the dinosaur? TMIO

I started wondering what had happened to Cleveland, Ohio-based TMIO (which stands for Tonight's Menu Intelligent Oven) today after I tracked down a local appliance seller, BSC Culinary, asking if I could get a peek at how the $7,500 intelligent oven worked. I also wanted to find out if the company had anything new to offer.

When I called, a worker there told me they haven't carried the intelligent oven in more than three months. She said she thought that maybe Viking had bought the company.

There's no word from Viking yet whether there's any truth to that rumor.

And there are few leads about TMIO's fate online. When I called TMIO, the main number and the number for the company's public relations person were disconnected. So I decided to dial TMIO CEO David Mansbery's office. A woman who worked for a different business answered and told me that TMIO had left last November.

Founded in 1994, TMIO's network-enabled 30-inch double wall oven nabbed a flood of attention--from CNBC's Power Lunch to Good Morning America to Time, which named it one of the cool inventions of 2003.

Before launching its oven, TMIO spent $10 million and 12 years developing it, enlisting the help of NASA's Embedded Web Technology people to develop the software. The technology lets the user adjust the oven's settings from a Net connection, cell phone, or landline, so that you can control when you want dinner cooked from the road.

Despite the oven's coolness and convenience factor, TMIO never turned into a household name beyond the tech gadget and kitchen set. That's likely because of the oven's steep price, which one appliance sales clerk said probably kept consumers from buying many on their Web site. (The single oven, about $4,900, is a bit more affordable.)

Yet, if you're still in the market for one, appliance seller AJ Madison has four TMIO double ovens left for sale--and they've been marked down to just $4,479 each. If you're worried that TMIO is gone for good, AJ Madison also offers an extended 12-year warranty on the oven.

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