February 13, 2006

Prerelational financial app software vendors 1 — a quick overview

MSA (Management Science America). This section got so long I’m breaking it out as a separate post just about MSA.

M & D (McCormack & Dodge). M & D was MSA’s archrival in mainframe financial software. They had various claims to product superiority, based on having “more CPAs on staff” than MSA and also on being first to market with realtime applications. However, M & D sold out early to Dun & Bradstreet, and lost its edge as key managers left.

M & D seems to have been a lively company. Many stories about drugs or sex emerged (I don’t actually recall any drugs-and-sex-combined stories, for whatever reasons). Key players included: Frank Dodge, a former schoolteacher who founded another not terribly successful apps company (The Dodge Group) afterwards; Jim McCormack, who happily retired from software into real estate, but sadly died a few years later; development chief John Landry, who’s been a prominent industry figure ever since, and sales/marketing chief Bob Weiler, ditto. Landry and Weiler went together to Distribution Management Systems, Cullinet (after it bought DMS), and Lotus, before going their separate ways.

M & D’s venture into manufacturing applications seemed later and more half-hearted than Comserv’s or Cullinet’s. But they eventually did wind up with a version of (and may even have bought control of) the Rath & Strong technology.

Cullinet. Cullinet was better known as a DBMS vendor. But in a precursor of what became the Oracle strategy, it pursued financial and manufacturing applications as well. The financial applications were originally licensed from M & D. The manufacturing apps were originally licensed from Rath & Strong, as were M & D’s.

One negative consequence was that the industry teamed up against Cullinet. For example, ADR in DBMS and MSA in apps formed a close marketing relationship. To general industry agreement at the time, I dubbed this the ABC (Anybody But Cullinet) strategy.

Cincom. DBMS vendor Cincom pursued a Cullinet-like apps strategy. Not many people cared.

J. D. Edwards. If I recall correctly, JDE’s main platform was the IBM System 38, the predecessor to the AS/400. Anyhow, JDE was a Denver-based financial software company. Its main claim to fame, other than the platform that it ran on, was a superb order entry system. Rob Kelley, referring to his days at Arthur Andersen, once told me that Andersen’s order entry system had had 45,000 lines of code, JDE’s had had 5,000 lines, and JDE’s had been better.

SAP. I’ve already written up what I recall about SAP in the 1980s.

This initial list leaves a lot of companies out, of course. Other than the MRP companies — ASK, NCA, XCS, and so on — the biggest omission may be Walker Interactive. But also missing are Global Software, Data Design, a whole lot of human resources specialists and so on.

Also missing are other vertical market groups, most notably in banking software, which is where general ledger products (the first major financial application) first succeeded in a big way.

I hope to get around to writing about these subjects before too long.


5 Responses to “Prerelational financial app software vendors 1 — a quick overview”

  1. Jay Wortman on October 4th, 2008 6:32 pm

    A couple points on this.

    This is from the software industry in 1983-84 when I worked with accounting/financial software as technical rep and sales support.

    I found in some old brochures that McCormack & Dodge (M&D) was a company of Dun & Bradstreet.

    When I was working for a sales company in Paris, we were flogging accounting software from Software International (SI). We had two competitors: M&D and MSA. SI software ran on IBM CMS, IBM AS/400(??), DEC VAX, Prime and a few others

    As well, I worked with a Financial Planning package called Interactive Financial Planning System (IFPS) from Execucom in Austin Texas. I do not think that we had any real competitors in Paris for that.

    Execucom was started by a professor in Austin (UT-Austin I suppose). I think he was Business School rather than Computer Science.

    But in the late 70’s professors had a theory that all second generation procedural computer languages (Fortran, Cobol, Algol, PL/1, ..) could be written in Non-procedural computer languages. For example, all of our current languages (Java, C,..) execute instructions procedurally, from the top of the page to the bottom, one at a time and using branch statments(e.g. Goto° to change the execution order. Non-procedural languages had a many statements but they were executed in any order by the computer. The theory was that any procedural language could be written as a non-procedural language. It was kind of like the GOTO-Less controversy at the time(any program with a goto statement could be written without a goto statement).

    IFPS interactive but they put in a non-procedural batch language. Of course, all of the non-procedural languages(except one) have dried up. The only one that still exists is non other than our database friend SQL. That is its origin.

    I hope this is of value.

    I can probably put some other stuff in sometime.

    Jay Wortman
    Oracle Certified DBA

  2. What’s NetSuite up to? on July 19th, 2010 1:21 am

    […] a big claim but not one that is as outlandish as it sounds. Anyone remember the days when McCormack and Dodge ruled the roost? It was SAP that took them out through a technology change we call client/server. SaaS/cloud is […]

  3. Extending the layered messaging model | Strategic Messaging on June 13th, 2011 4:30 am

    […] market strategies, many “we’re t-shirted coders just like you” messages, and McCormack & Dodge’s long-ago pitch “Buy our financial software because we have lots of Certified Public […]

  4. Justcpa on July 11th, 2015 9:23 pm

    Another big player was DDA which made a pretty powerful system

  5. Notes on the technology supporting packaged application software | Software Memories on December 6th, 2015 1:23 am

    […] Cullinet and Cincom tried it, but with pre-relational DBMS. Oops. […]

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