The History of APPX


The History of APPX

The history of APPX Software, Inc. can be traced back more than a quarter century to the early days of the mini-computer industry in the 1970's. The introduction of mini-computers resulted in affordable computing for businesses of all sizes and created a new software industry to develop business applications for these mini-computers.

The original developer of the SPEED and APPX products was a company by the name of The Office Manager, abbreviated to T.O.M., and later changed to TOM Software, Inc. The Office Manager was founded in Seattle, Washington in the mid-1970's by a group of college students and their professor. They developed an innovative computer software product, first called the "TOM Utilities" and later renamed to "SPEED", which used structured programming techniques and subroutine calls to produce a design environment that facilitated custom software development using the Basic-2 language on Wang 2200 series mini-computers. The SPEED product, which we now refer to as SPEED I, is purported to be an acronym for "Subroutines and Programs for Efficient Economic Development".

Using the SPEED I development system, TOM also developed a suite of financial applications (General Ledger, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Inventory Control, etc.). But unlike most of the other products on the market at that time, the SPEED I applications were designed to be customized. A network of resellers was recruited to sell and customize these products.

A few years later, Wang Laboratories, Inc. released a new line of hardware, the Wang VS mini-computer. The architecture and operating system of this new machine was completely different from its predecessor and Wang Basic-2 was not a supported language, so the R&D team at TOM Software developed a new, innovative product. Although the programming concepts and the business processes were similar to those of SPEED I, the new product, SPEED II, would look, feel, and act very differently.

SPEED II was introduced in the early 1980's, and became one of the most popular software products within the Wang VS community. This new software design tool provided developers with the ability to easily create menu, input, and output functions in a visual manner - to create the screens as they would look to the users - a new concept that the industry would later label as WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get). Certainly, SPEED II was a pioneer in this area, and SPEED II programmers took full advantage of the product's capabilities to design custom applications for business, government, and education.

SPEED II did not rely on traditional, free form, programming languages . The product's command language was simple, structured, and always syntactically correct. SPEED II also introduced the "Design and Run" programming concept that has proven to be so productive.  SPEED II eliminated the need to compile programs and the built-in interactive debugger made testing and debugging easier than ever. Within a few years, thousands of SPEED II applications were running on Wang VS computers around the world, each solving specific challenges and adapting to changing requirements on a constant basis.

By the latter part of the decade, though, Wang's position as an industry leader was waning (a fascinating book, Riding the Runaway Horse: The Rise and Decline of Wang Laboratories by Charles Kenney, tells the entire story, including the firing of the company president, Fred Wang, by his father, company founder Dr. An Wang).  It became obvious that a product tied to the Wang VS would have a rather limited future.  And so began the effort to port SPEED II to other platforms.

The new "open systems" product needed a new name to symbolize its break from the Wang world and the move into non-proprietary systems. The name that was chosen was APPX, a contraction of APPlication eXcellence. Thus, the product, which would ultimately lend its name to the company, was born.

APPX incorporated the functionality, ease of use, WYSIWYG design, and other proven concepts from SPEED II, but was designed to be platform independent.  The DEC VAX was the first supported platform. Support for various Unix operating systems soon followed. But, while the software product itself continued to mature and improve, the ownership underwent some changes.

In 1991, TOM Software licensed the marketing rights for SPEED II and APPX, the product of the future, to Kennedy and Company, a large TOM reseller in Richmond, Virginia.  Kennedy and Company continued to market the products through the reseller network, made significant improvements to the products, and ultimately purchased both the SPEED II and APPX products from TOM Software. 

In December 1992, Kennedy and Company was sold to Tredegar Industries, Inc., a Richmond, Virginia manufacturing company.  In 1993 the company name was changed from Kennedy and Company to APPX Software, Inc. Tredagar invested heavily in R&D for the APPX product.  As a result, significant new functionality was added to the product and the initial ports to the Windows® and Linux platforms were completed.

Over the next few years, R&D continued and APPX arrived on the market for an increasing variety of platforms. APPX remained true to the tenets of SPEED II, offering fast and easy customization by utilizing the proven "Design and Run" technology. Work continued to improve performance and reliability on Unix and Windows platforms, while still offering a clean, automated migration procedure for customers wishing to move from SPEED II to APPX.

In January of 1998, APPX Software, Inc. changed hands again when a trio of former resellers stepped up to purchase the company. Steve Frizzell, formerly of C-Side Systems, Inc. and one of the purchasing VARs, was named president of the company, and its headquarters were moved to Jacksonville, Florida. The new owners made a commitment, both emotional and financial, to bring APPX into the 21st century as a state-of-the-art software product, and set into place procedures and personnel to do just that.

Those goals are being realized. Customers and resellers now have the most powerful, most flexible product on the marketplace, and the ability to meet their data processing needs easier and faster than any competitor. New users are discovering APPX, and realizing that their computers can work for their organization's benefit when the right software products are utilized. And new resellers are finding an expanding market where their expertise can be translated into customized solutions that their clients will truly be happy with.

The future is bright for APPX. Hundreds of new users have taken advantage of our APPX for Linux Promotion, and are creating custom solutions for their own use or for the marketplace. On Linux platforms, no product can compete with APPX in terms of functionality, ease of use, experience, and transportability. Our upcoming port to the IBM AS/400 promises to bring a huge new customer base to APPX, as thousands of AS/400 sites discover a development product unlike anything they have seen before.

From "Subroutines and Programs for Efficient Economic Development" to "Design and Run Technology" to "Software Designed to Deal With Change", APPX has evolved over the years into what it is now: The Premier Development and Runtime Environment for Business Application Software™.


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