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A Personal Recollection of Software's Early Days (1960-1979): Part 2
October-December 2005 (vol. 27 no. 4)
pp. 31-45
Ernest E. Keet, Vanguard Atlantic Ltd.
The author was a participant in the early days of packaged software, an early participant in ADAPSO, and a pioneer in the early days of shrink-wrapped PC products. This article, the first of which appeared in the October-December 2004 issue of Annals, traces the author's career from running the Software Products Group at Dun & Bradstreet to the early days of Vanguard Atlantic Ltd.

1. ADAPSO later changed its name to the Information Technology Association of America, ITAA. ADAPSO was originally organized to represent the data centers, those shops that processed payrolls and accounting records in competition with giants like IBM's (later, after forced divestiture, Control Data's) Service Bureau Corporation. In the 1970s and early 1980s, ADAPSO was headquartered in Montvale, New Jersey. Later it moved to Washington, D.C., and Luanne James (now Johnson) became its executive director. Luanne is herself an industry pioneer, having founded Argonaut Information Systems Inc. in 1971.
2. Another early software products company, Boole & Babbage, was founded in Sept. 1967.
3. I don't want to be too unfair, but in our case we took our "leased" and sold product count and then multiplied by the highest (all feature) current price, then we added in all sales "commitments" ("prospect wants meeting" was good enough), finally rounding up. These awards were worth their weight in gold for the credibility they created with customers, especially when IBM was doing its FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) bit against you.
4. Who for several years served on my Software Protection Committee.
5. Milton R. Wessel papers, 1966-1989, CBI 120, Charles Babbage Inst., Minneapolis, Minn.; .
6. Jim Porter, then a vice president of Informatics, led this effort for several years, to be followed by Larry Schoenberg, founder and CEO of AGS Computers (a company that Vanguard Atlantic subsequently helped Nynex acquire). I served on the early committee with Jim for several years.
7. Cofounder (with Walter Brown) and CEO of Atlantic Software Inc., founded in 1967.
8. Run by founders Al Devito, Les Conklin, and Ted Watson. Their primary product, Data Catalogue, was a data dictionary on which we intended to anchor our suite of system software products. But, as I will tell, system software products matched the idea of a National CSS/Turnkey Systems strategy, but didn't fit with D&B at all.
9. In his book, Jungle Rules, John Imlay says it a little differently: "While McCormack & Dodge stressed leading-edge technology in its marketing, MSA stressed people, goal sharing, customer satisfaction, and the personal touch. In every year of our head-to-head competition MSA won in market share." J.P. Imlay Jr. with D. Hamilton, Jungle Rules, Dutton, 1994.
10. John's marketing ploys are legendary. In one story he had the Atlanta Fire Department on hand (but hidden from view). He told his assembled sales force that he was tired of putting out fires, then grabbed a bucket of kerosene, dumped it in the corner of the room, and lit it with a match as people screamed and fled. The firefighters rushed in, doused the flames, and John reassembled his audience, with their fullest attention. Later, he brought a live tiger to an ADAPSO conference in Denver, for use in a typical John Imlay extravaganza. Unfortunately, a woman who just happened by tried to pat the "nice kitty," and it took years for John and ADAPSO to get out from under the negative publicity and lawsuits that resulted after she got mauled.
11. I announced our plans to friends in the industry, and Larry Welke hosted a "farewell" roast for me at the spring 1983 ADAPSO meeting. My staff at D&B did the same. I was genuinely moved to find out how many friends I had, and learned that sometimes it is better to tell people you appreciate them before they leave you.
12. E. Keet, E. Pendray, and J. John, Strategic Development for High Technology Businesses, Value Publishing, 1987.
13. In the BCG approach, companies are Stars if they are in high-growth industries and have high relative market share; they are Cash Cows if in lower-growth industries but with high relative market share, Dogs if low on both measures, and Question Marks if in high-growth markets but with low relative share.
14. Commonfund Capital Inc., "State of the Venture Industry," presentation to the Novak Biddle Venture Partners forum, 13 May 2002. The Biggs quote came from a speech he gave to Commonfund Capital in which he referred to statistics published in "Venture Capital and Its Role in Strategic Asset Allocation," J. Portfolio Management, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 83-89.

Index Terms:
ADAPSO, IBM, software, copyright, patent, accounting, Dun & Bradstreet, Task/Master, Key/Master, National CSS
Ernest E. Keet, "A Personal Recollection of Software's Early Days (1960-1979): Part 2," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 27, no. 4, pp. 31-45, Oct.-Dec. 2005, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2005.51
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