Integrated Computer Systems – Thirty Years Later
Integrated Computer Systems – Thirty Years Later
The year was 1989
When ICS Support was founded over thirty years ago, we had a hodgepodge collection of used hardware and software to work with. There were four of us on day one, and we were lucky enough to borrow a small 120 square-foot office from a friend in Kirkland for those first few months.
We knew SCO Xenix/Unix best in those days, and it was the least costly and most reliable way to provide compute services to the staff. Keep in mind that the holy wars of operating systems (SCO, Novell, Microsoft) were still raging at that time.
Using the Informix database, we built a ticketing and dispatching system for managing our service work.
In August 1989 we acquired MAS 90 software and deployed it ourselves to provide the accounting functionality for the business. In case you are wondering where the name MAS 90 came from, it stood for Master Accounting Series for the 90s. MAS 90 worked for our young company, so we thought it might be good to sell it to other businesses and help them install and use it.
The original publisher of MAS 90 was State of the Art, Inc. (SOTA). In those days, the product was quite comprehensive and included ½ dozen or so 4” 3-ring binders with configuration and user guides. Like all software, MAS 90 had a few bugs and generated some errors. I found that in order to be proficient with the product, it was necessary to be able to support it myself as opposed to trying to connect with SOTA sans internet. This meant it was necessary to lug 20-30 pounds of binders around in the car. Although it required some speed reading at stop lights, it was manageable when serving local clients. It was a bit more challenging, however, when flying to client locations.
I remember the first MAS 90 upgrade I ever did was upgrading a client from MAS 90 Level I to MAS 90 Level II. They were using a Wyse 286 PC as their server and it took a little over two full days for the hourglass to disappear and the upgrade process to finish. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when it finally did.
We did all our work on Wyse 60 Terminals, whether connected in the office or remotely. They were offered in green, amber, and eventually a white phosphorus. We were really living large when we were able to upgrade from the amber screens to the white phosphorus screens.
The Wyse 60 terminal was first released in 1983. If you harken for the way back machine, you can install Wyse 60 terminal emulation software on your laptop today and experience it firsthand.
All our printing needs were provided by the Okidata 320 and 520 workhorse printers. We used these for printing invoices, service tickets, and various reports.
Connection and transmission speeds were limited in those early days. It was a text only world after all. Hayes Microcomputer Products ruled the roost with their 2400 baud modem.
The first 56K modem was released in 1996 from US Robotics. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) were springing up and providing internet connections to businesses and homes. The World Wide Web was being discovered. We started a new company called Internet Services of Washington to provide business class internet services. We sold ISW about five years later.
We carried pagers in those early days and then frantically sought out a phone booth to call whomever needed help.
After several years of selling and implementing MAS 90, we began to encounter situations where clients and prospects needed more advanced functionality than MAS 90 offered. After an extensive evaluation, we decided to begin offering an ERP product referred to as Navision, based out of Denmark. While the product was quite technologically advanced for its time, it wasn’t entirely localized for the US marketplace and presented some unique challenges. In May 2002, Microsoft took note of the technical prowess of Navision and acquired the company and its assets for $1.3B, which was Microsoft’s largest acquisition to date. Navision has received tremendous development and enhancement and undergone many name changes in the last seventeen years. Our staff loves working with the product due to its flexibility and horsepower. It is referred to as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central today.
Flashing forward to 2019
Today at Integrated Computer Systems, we can review and begin support procedures from our phones—anywhere. We perform 85% of our client services from our desk, including cloud application installations, online training sessions, and remote security monitoring.
We can implement many network fixes within a few minutes, set up automatic upgrades and system alerts, and provide an almost unlimited number of business applications in connected environments such as Sage 100cloud, Dynamics 365 Business Central, and the MTWO vertical cloud for construction.
30 years ago, I never imagined we would now have over a thousand successful projects under our belts across a wide array of technology and business verticals. We’d like to thank our clients for that.
There’s been a lot of change since 1989 when ICS Support opened. Yet from day one, at our core, what we love most is helping our clients build the best business technology solutions for their needs. So, where it really counts, 30 years of service later—we haven’t changed a bit.
Jeff Mack is President and CEO of Integrated Computer Systems in Redmond, Washington. For over 30 years, he has guided ICS to provide world-class business technology solutions for organizations large and small. He also enjoys mountain biking anywhere and everywhere ( 9 states, 1 province and counting), and any chance to spend time with his wife, Rhonda, and their grandchildren (both human and canine). To learn more about ICS, visit ics-support.com.