DataViews

"True Genius is the Simple Expression of Complex Ideas"

I officially started my career in software when I was hired by V.I. Corporation in 1987 contingent on their closing a deal with Tektronix. V.I. Corporation was a start-up that just emerged from bankruptsy as Visual Intelligence Corporation. Later on, the company renamed itself as DataViews Corporation after its most famous product, DataViews.

Those were heady days when we were making what are called "dynamic data visualization tools" of the kind that you hardly see today. Dynamic data visualization tools allow the users to draw pictures that closely resembles the schema of the real thing and can be tied to data sources to dynamically animate them without programming. It was used in nuclear plants and by NASA.

We invented our own object-oriented macro language on top of C, our Unix workstations never went down except for hardware upgrades, we were connected to the Internet via T3 trunk, we used emacs and the first web browser Mosaic, we managed our code using networked source control and automated builds, X11 was our window system - a window system technology that, in my opinion, is still unmatched today. We were at the top of our game.

I have many fond memories of those days - getting a door and cinder blocks for desks when I first joined, traveling up Rattlesnake Gutter dirt road (that has no rattlesnakes) to join the entire technical team at my manager's home on the first Christmas after I started, playing hookie with almost the entire tech team at his place on Martha's Vineyard after the company was sold. A couple of these colleagues are now steady friends and we still get together regularly. Others I run into occasionally and we still greet each other warmly.


Former headquarter of DataViews Corporation in Northampton, Massachusetts.

And the story that impresses my kids the most? Being sent to NeXT when it was starting out and had dinner with Steve Jobs and a party of engineers from other companies. I still have the husk of our NeXT cube with a serial number in the low thousand.

DataViews Corporation was eventually sold to GE Fanuc. They retained a few engineers till a few years ago when they reduced the team size to one. I believe the product is still being used and maintained.