Saturday, September 12, 2015
Stories about a software company
Mercator Software, TSI International Software at the time, was my entry to the professional information technology (IT) world. It couldn't have come at a more interesting time, the peak of the dot-com bubble. We weren't a dot-com company, we were in business years before the Internet, but we were swept away by the madness. In a flash it was a billion-dollar company, only to sink in equally spectacular fashion. And there's me in 1998, last one in the office that unseasonably warm night, about to witness it all.
Semi-Disclaimer: My experience at Mercator is not comparable to the majority of employees who worked there over the years. I worked at the Bannockburn Illinois office which supported their line of EDI/B2B software. The home office was off in Wilton Connecticut and the flagship Mercator product line was developed down in Florida.
I'm finding it odd to read a story about a company I worked (however briefly) for. I was hired on as a contractor in Florida office in the mid-90s by a friend who worked there and my job at the time was to help port the software to various flavors of Unix popular at the time. I spent less than a year at the company and I probably departed long before Hugues Johnson started. Two things I remember about working there—one, the computer that ordered parts for itself, and two, the product produced cost anywhere from (I think) $1,500 (Windows version) to over $50,000 (for the computer that ordered parts for itself), and it was the same codebase. I remember thinking to myself, for $50,000 all you got was a 3½ floppy disk and one sheet of instructions? Shouldn't you get a bit more for that amount?
I still know two people who work on the project to this day (still in Florida, but they work for IBM). And the funny thing is—even though they both work on the same product, they've never met each other! (although they've heard of each other).