|.||Kisco Home : Founder's Day - 30th Anniversary of Kisco Information Systems||.|
We have also always offered our software to customers on a free thirty day trial basis. This lets the customer
try the software out in their own environment to see how it is going to work for them. The software self
activates during installation processing and then works for a month (or more) before it stops working. We
let customers extend their trial time when they need it by just providing them with a simple 6 digit code
that authorizes the software to continue running. When we receive payment, another 6 digit code tells the
software that it is permanently installed.
When we first opened that office in my garage, the sum total of technology in the office was a telephone answering machine and a typewriter (remember those?). As we moved into the software business, almost all customer communications took place by phone with a little happening by surface mail. It wasn’t long, however, when fax technology came into general use and we expanded along with it by adding a fax machine to the office. Rather than waiting for customer information through the mail, we could now get diagnostic information on software problems by fax and respond to customer needs more quickly. It wasn’t long before most of our new software orders started arriving by fax rather than through the mail. By the late 1980's, we’d bought our first office computer, a Compaq Portable with 2 diskette drives and we started keeping company records on the computer with home-grown software that ran on dBase II. We upgraded the computer and software many times including running that Compaq with a 286 processor and a huge (for then) 20mb hard drive. With the computer, our use of technology expanded through the use of MCI Mail. This quickly turned into email and the addition of a website by the mid-1990's. Within a year, almost all of our customer correspondence and contact moved over to email and website contact. Today, with the advent of smart cell phones, laptops and PDAs, customer contact is easier than ever. We used to be tied to the office, but we can now easily go portable at a moment’s notice and most customers never know that we’re anywhere other than sitting in the office waiting to hear from them. You’ll even find us on Twitter from time to time.
One of the things that I have really liked about working with the IBM midrange systems is that code that I’ve written is able to survive down through the years. I don’t know of any other set of platforms where this is possible. When I first started out as a programmer, I wrote a date conversion routine for converting dates from Gregorian to Julian and back. It was initially written in 1401 Autocoder and when the System 360 came out, I converted it into Basic Assembler Language. Some years later, I converted it one last time into COBOL. For the entire life of the System/36 and well into the life of the AS/400, I was able to use this routine without having to touch it once. I only abandoned it when IBM added this function directly into the OS. In other cases, I have software product code that was written in the late 1980's for the AS/400 that is still running today without a recompile along the way. My congratulations to the folks at IBM for recognizing this very real need down through the years.