Some years ago I decided I wanted to write the story of Neller Software for a number of reasons … and along the way developed an approach that I think applies to writing of any modern history book in a very cost effective and rewarding way.
But why is the first question when it comes to writing a book. Well…… Neller Software has played a very siginificant role in the birth and development of the Computer Software industry in Australia
And it had played a very signifiant role in my life and development in three different periods and in three very different ways.
1, I was sent to work there by my employer at the time Chrysler Australia to help complete a Payroll system we had bought
2 As an employee who went there as a techo and came out a few years later as a marketeer – an Analyst programmer who went on to become Product Manager
The story begins in the late 70s a time when change in the world was about to really accelerate.
The PC and the Fax Machine had not yet been invented … a geek called Bill Gates had just started Microsoft, Computers were called Mainframes they cost a million dollars and occupied large rooms with sophisticated air-conditioning and fire proofing.
In the late 60s John Neller was a mild manner Accountant at the Bank of Adelaide with a keen interest in Fixed Asset Accounting. As such he was acutely aware that much of the approach to Fixed Asset Accounting was quite different to the practices in other parts of the world.
But he was unaware that the opportunity would arise for him to create a company that played a very significant part in the development of the Australian computer software industry – Neller Software
In fact he saw an unmet need in computerised accounting systems becoming available at the time as they were not designed to meet the specific needs of Australia. But in those days software was bundled with hardware and was built to meet major e.g. USA market needs.
So the choice was clear create your own or go along with what the market offered which was not easy to modify
But when IBM, who were are the time the main supplier of hardware and software for big business adopted a new marketing policy in 1969 John saw the opportunity to capitalise on this unmet need in the Australian market .
“Until this time customers did not pay for software or services separately from the very high price for leasing the hardware. Software was provided at no additional charge, generally in source code form; services (systems engineering, education and training, system installation) were provided free of charge at the discretion of the IBM Branch office. This practice existed throughout the industry. Quoting from the abstract to a widely read IEEE paper on the topic:
“ Many people believe that one pivotal event in the growth of the business software products market was IBM’s decision, in 1969, to price its software and services separately from its hardware. ”
In the late 70s I was a very young up and coming Analyst/Programmer in the DP Department at Chrysler Australia. Among the 3 systems I had some responsibility for was payroll…. an archaic in house developed system written in COBOL which ran on what was at the time a million dollar computer an IBM Mainframe … a System 360 Model 40.
One day my boss came to me to tell me he had been invited to attend a seminar at John Neller and Associates along with some other big name companies that used IBM Mainframes (inc Bank of NSW (now Westpac), SAGASCO ( now Envestra) ES &A Bank (now defunct)) to look at developing a computerised Payroll packaged system to meet the specific needs of Australia. Continue reading Want to be an Entrepreneur? – First find a customer and make a sale!