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While I was working as Director of Information Systems at McClures Stores in 1987, we invested in a lot of hardware that was based on Novell Netware, then a very popular Network Operating System, much like Windows NT, 2000, and XP are popular Operating Systems today. In every copy of Netware, there was a database system called “Btrieve” that many software engineers world-wide used to write software applications that needed to store data or lists in them. Almost all accounting systems, for example, like Great Plains, Macola, and many more, used Btrieve as the database engine. Btrieve was small, fast, and very easy to write basic applications with. By early 1988, all of the systems at McClures were migrated to the Btrieve database platform.
The problem in 1988 was that although there were about 50,000 software engineers world-wide using Btrieve, Novell did little to improve the tools and utilities that allowed users to get their works done more easily. I wanted to write a utility, which I later named BUtility to make it easier to work with Btrieve files. BUtility was simply a HEX editor for Btrieve files. You could create files, open them, put test data in them, etc. In 1988, with long time friend and business associate Steve Mook, we founded a software manufacturing company in Nashville called Smithware. I know it is not the most unique name in the world, but I liked it! Smithware was designed to build and sell software development tools that helped other software engineers work with Btrieve databases.
I put a few ads in PC Magazine, and sales slowly took off. From 1988 until 1998, Steve, my best friend and eventually Smithware’s VP of Engineering, had a great time working and building on Smithware products and the company. By early 1998, Smithware had evolved into a very successful software engineering, marketing, and distribution shop. On Friday, February 13, 1998, we culminated months of behind the scenes planning with Smithware's being acquired by Pervasive Software in Austin, TX. Pervasive had just had a successful IPO months before, so the time was definitely right and we made the right decision to do that.
On Sunday, December 9, 2001, after having tried to locate the copy of www.smithware.com that I knew I had, I ran across the CD that contained it that was saved on April 7, 1998, the day before we turned www.smithware.com off and rerouted traffic over to the www.pervasive.com web site. It is amazing how much content we had on our site, and I am convinced that it was the www.smithware.com web site that caused our growth from 1996 to 1998 to be so phenomenal.
On February 13, 1999 I resigned from Pervasive. I then teamed up with Tom Cato (Tom is a former CIO of HCA, the largest private acute care hospital company in the country) and went to work at HCA to start a spin-out Internet technology company for healthcare. We had no idea what the company was going to do, but we went to it anyway. First we co-founded eHC.com which is a service that many hospitals use to build and maintain content-rich web sites. eHC.continues to be a successful division of HCA. While doing that work, we teamed up with Earnst & Young-Capgemini to look into ways of applying technology to the inefficient supply chain process for hospitals and suppliers. Ultimately on December 1, 1999, we founded a healthcare supply chain technology company called empactHealth.com. On July 25, 2000, after 14 months of building empactHealth.com, we negotiated the acquisition of empactHealth.com by Medibuy in San Diego. What followed was a very interesting and difficult 18 months... I retired from Medibuy in 2003.
In 2003 I repurposed Smithware as an IT consulting firm providing CIO (Chief Information Officer) services for small and medium sized companies throughout Middle Tennessee. I provide IT strategy and development services to several clients around Nashville and the surrounding areas.
Smithware The new Smithware web site.
Medibuy, Inc. web site as of 02/03/2002.
empactHealth.com web site as of 07/25/2000.
RegionalAirways.com web site as of early 2000.
The old Smithware web site as of 04/15/1998 just before we shut it down.
Information about McClures