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Biographies: Recollections of the First Software Company Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129809D
Original Publication Date: 1994-Jun-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Document File: 11 page(s) / 45K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Elmer C. Kubie: AUTHOR [+2]


Editor's note: In this piece, Elmer C. Kubie relates his experience as cofounder of the Computer Usage Company.

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 8% of the total text.

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Copyright ©; 1994 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Biographies: Recollections of the First Software Company

Elmer C. Kubie

Editor's note: In this piece, Elmer C. Kubie relates his experience as cofounder of the Computer Usage Company.


Computer Usage Company (CUC), the world's first computer software company, was founded by John W. Sheldon and me in March 1955. Previously, we had worked together for several years at the New York City IBM Technical Computing Bureau. Some 31 years later, CUC was declared bankrupt and ceased to exist. This memoir relates my remembrances of CUC. As president, I was an active insider during the company's first 13 years. I continued to serve on the company's board for five more years, but had little influence after serving as president.

The early 1950s.

This was the dawn of commercially available computers, starting with Remington Rand's UNIVAC. Support software was in early development. Loaders' memory dumps, tracing routines, assembly and interpretive programs, and some early programming language compilers were available. These were somewhat elementary, crude aids and relatively easy to understand and use. Compared with the present day, these tools were not very sophisticated, complex, or powerful. Experience did lead to better appreciation of needs as well as improved techniques. However, much of this was implemented only after higher processing speeds and much larger memories became available.

All of this early support software was written by either the machine manufacturers or their customers. Wisely, most of it was freely shared among users. Although it was indirectly available to competing vendors, it was seldom adopted by them.

External support services consisted of two different sources: service bureaus and independent consultants. Service bureaus were operated by several equipment manufacturers as well as by a few independent firms. Under contract, they would develop and process applications for their customers, or they would simply sell machine time on machines they owned or leased. This service was very helpful in the early days, as it often allowed the customer to test the feasibility of computer use without making a major or long-term commitment. This often benefited the manufacturer as well through the subsequent sale of equipment. Furthermore, customers with limited requirements could often save costs by farming out their needs to a service bureau instead of installing their own facility.

Many organizations provided consulting services of various kinds. Some were dedicated to the computer field, and others were management consultant or accounting firms for which computation was a side line. Consultation was primarily concerned with feasibility studies, equipment selection, procedure analysis, staff organization, financial advice, and staff tra...