TitleProulx, Tom oral history
DescriptionTom Proulx co-founded the software company Intuit and authored its flagship personal finance product, Quicken. Proulx begins the oral history by recounting his childhood and early education. He describes studying electrical engineering and computer science at Stanford University. During his senior year, Proulx met Scott Cook, who hoped to hire a programmer to create software that would automate personal finance management. Proulx answered Cook’s call and joined the venture as his partner. Proulx started writing Quicken (then called Kwik Chek) in 1983.
Proulx discusses the early days of Intuit and its innovative consumer products approach to software development. Before designing Quicken, Proulx and Cook interviewed consumers to learn how they did routine financial tasks and what features might help them. Proulx and Cook also conducted user testing throughout the design process to iteratively make the software faster and more user friendly. Proulx designed Quicken to be intuitive enough for people to learn without a manual. He was the first to create a data entry screen that looked like a paper check and a database of historical transactions that looked like a paper check register. There were no universally standardized user interface conventions for the PC, but Proulx copied a user interface from an existing product so that many people would already know how to use it.
Proulx describes challenges that Intuit faced on its path to success, including its failure to secure venture capital funding and its unprofitable attempts to sell Quicken through banks. Using revenue from the Apple II version of Quicken, which Proulx had developed, Intuit advertised the product in magazines and sold it directly to consumers by phone. This helped increase sales significantly. In a little over a decade, Proulx went from head programmer to vice president and chief technical officer of Intuit. He recalls his role in Intuit’s merger with Chipsoft, the tax software company that created TurboTax, and closes the interview by describing his departure from Intuit in 1994.
|Fagan, Eileen, Interviewer|
|Hancock, Marguerite Gong, Interviewer|
|Proulx, Tom, Interviewee|
PublisherComputer History Museum
Place of PublicationMountain View, CA
Collection TitleCHM Oral History Collection
CreditComputer History Museum
|102740528||Proulx, Tom oral history|