Business & Finance
Commentary
8/18/2006
06:20 PM
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Clever Isn't Always Great
I liked your article and agree that most of the projects you placed on your list deserved to be there. While I recognize the fiendish cleverness of the Morris worm, cleverness isn't enough to make such a list. I agree that the BSD software system is a good candidate for the top spot, but you overlooked the best of the BSD decedents: OpenBSD.

Raymond Lillard
Independent Consultant
Redwood City, Calif.

Unix Keeps On Going
Your article had me to the very end. And what a pleasant surprise you provided me.

In the mid-1980s, I was introduced to Unix. An Altos Computer System reseller told me about this concept of multiuser/multitasking computers whereby all of our office staff could share a database on one computer--Altos computers running Unix. And he had a language solution--Softbol, Omtool's version of Dibol. We could run all our existing software on Unix. The conversion from the single-user to multiuser environment wasn't as easy as promised, but what a wonderful change it turned out to be.

We're still running our accounting systems in Softbol and Unix. We have six Altos computers in six locations--they're like the Energizer rabbit. We utilize AT&T Unix System V, version 3. We've integrated PCs into the mix in order to give our users Office functionality and Internet access.

For years, friends and associates have been kidding me about running Unix. I wish I could get them to read your article. I wish they really knew how much of the Internet runs on Unix servers.

Barry S. Katz
Founder and President, Omnibus Services
Chicago

Coolness Factor
If there's such a thing as a "killer app," it would have to be Labview by National Instruments. It's the most versatile, educational, and just plain cool piece of software ever written. It's what computing is all about. It was light-years ahead of its time 20 years ago and has kept pace ever since.

Eric P. Nichols
Electronic Warfare Range Specialist,
Arctic Slope World Services
North Pole, Alaska

Cobol Led The Revolution
I'd boot Sabre and replace it with Cobol. Max Hopper's Sabre may have revolutionized airline reservations, but Grace Hopper's Cobol revolutionized computer programming. Relatively complex repetitive functions could be programmed in a simple, linguistically based language that could be learned by most anyone. Without Cobol, the business computer revolution would have been very slow.

Ken Holmes
Team Lead, American Airlines
Fort Worth, Texas

File Transfers Made Easy
Your article was outstanding. You brought back some terms and products I never thought would see the light of day after they passed into the sunset.

I'd like to suggest another product that you didn't mention but had as much of an impact or larger in its heyday: the PKZIP compression utility. It made it easy to take large files (for the time, a large file was anything that didn't fit on a single floppy) from one computer to another, back them up, and take them home or transfer over a 300-baud modem.

I've said many times that PKZIP was one of the greatest pieces of software ever written.

Glenn Gnabasik
CTO, MembersFirst
Wayland, Mass.

Don't Overlook Delphi
Borland Delphi was the first developer package for Windows that let you write programs in an easy-to-grasp, modern, object-oriented language that didn't force you to deal with pointers or string allocation. It also insulated the developer from having to know all the grisly details of the underlying Windows screen and component drawing mechanisms, although you could still access them if you needed to. Unlike Microsoft's offerings, you could also easily create your own components. Finally, much to Microsoft's chagrin, it implemented an interface to the Windows COM (Component Object Model) subsystem far better than any of Microsoft's tools. Very well-thought-out GUI designer, language, and design philosophy!

Bob Schnatterly
Freelance Software Programmer
Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Total Oversight
Your list misses what perhaps may have been the first packaged software to exist--Total. With Total, Cincom launched the packaged software industry. While some names on your list aren't packaged software, today, more than 90% of software development comes in the packaged software market.

Total was also the first to reach revenue of $100 million a year--from a company that was founded in 1968 and still exists.

Patrick J. Dowling Jr.
VP of US Sales, Cincom Systems
Cincinnati

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