In this interview, Frank Wagner, one of the co-founders of Informatics, describes the challenges that Informatics faced as one of the very first companies that sold a software product (the MARK IV file management system). He talks about other very early software products and the emerging understanding on the part of software vendors (and customers) of the difference between "packaging" a computer program to sell to other users and creating a true software product. The challenges that he covers are: determining an appropriate price in a marketplace where software products were not yet common; the difficulty of educating customers as to why they should buy a software product instead of developing a customized system; the internal conflicts within Informatics between the division that was charged with selling MARK IV as a product and the professional services division which saw MARK IV primarily as a tool to expedite their programming contracts; and the difficulties of investing in additional products to expand the product line.
Johnson, Luanne, Interviewer
Johnson, Luanne, Editor
Wagner, Francis V. (Frank), Interviewee
Computer History Museum
Place of Publication
Los Angeles, California
Software business history; Wagner, Frank; Wagner, Francis; Informatics; Forman, Richard; Mark IV; ADR; Autoflow; Postley, John; Goetz, Marty; Council for Economic and Industrial Research (CEIR); Planning Research Corporation; Patrick, Robert; Early software products; Packaged software; Robinson, Herb; Grosch, Herb; Hayes, Bill Orchard; SCERT; Connelly, Paul; Comress; MARK II; Mark III Analog Computer (Computer); GIS; 9PAC; Bachman, Charles; Formatted File System; Dickburner, Don; Dickburner and Associates; Welke, Larry; ICP; Frank, Werner; Bauer, Walter; Gelione, Jack; Lamia, Tony; Programming Methods, Inc.; Association of Computing Machinery (ACM); IBM unbundling; Praxa Accounting Software; Kramer, Art