1988 – 1991
Innovative Software was started in 1980 to address the emerging desktop computer market. The company was started by Mark and his long-time friend Mike Brown as Mark was finishing his final year in college. The commercial software at the time was very rudimentary and the two friends thought they could do better.
Innovative initially created an easy to use database management program called Total Information Management. Innovative’s flagship program T.I.M. allowed the company to grow to $3M in revenue and allowed the company to think about bigger solutions. It devised a complete integrated system consisting of a database manager, spreadsheet, word processor, graphics, communications and networking – all tied together with a powerful scripting language for building business solutions.
On September 15th, 1983 Innovative Software completed its first public offering and providing the company the capital it needed to successfully complete and release The Smart Software System (later renamed SmartWare). SmartWare sold over $200M of product during its lifetime and allowed the company to expand with a secondary stock offering and a convertible bond offering.
Innovative continued its leading-edge offerings by developing a ground-breaking spreadsheet concept that allowed a spreadsheet and other graphical objects to be combined on a single page. WingZ provided a graphical user interface, supported larger, 32768×32768 dimension spreadsheets, and offered programming in a HyperCard-like language known as HyperScript. The original release proved successful, becoming the number two spreadsheet behind Microsoft Excel.
In 1987 Innovative was approached by Informix Software about merging the two companies. Many of Informix database customers were also Innovative Software customers who wanted Innovative’s business application front-end to connect to Informix’s database back-end. The merger combined the two companies into one $70M company with 600 employees that would continue to grow to almost a billion dollars in revenue before being sold to IBM in 2001.