|Thomas M. Nies, Sr., Founder/CEO|
Greg Mills, President
Customer Communications Management Software (CCM)
Contact Center Software
Decades after Cincom's founder left IBM, the latter posted "Cincom was the original database company." 
Cincom Systems was founded in 1968, when the product focus in the computer industry was far more on hardware than software, and mass merchandising in the industry was nonexistent. The company’s first product, Total, was the first commercial database management system that was not bundled with manufacturer hardware and proprietary software.
By the late 1960s, Tom Nies, a salesman and project manager at IBM, had noticed that software was becoming a more important component of computer systems and decided to work for a business that sold software. The only software businesses in existence at that time were a small number of service bureaus, none of which was located in Cincinnati, where Nies resided. In 1968, Nies joined Claude Bogardus and Tom Richley to found Cincom Systems, which initially only wrote programs for individual companies. Within its first year, the company realized that it was solving the same data management problems for its various clients. Nies proposed the solution of developing a core database management system that could be sold to multiple customers. Total was the result of this development effort.
The company he started was initially only writing programs for individual companies; Total came later.
The Total solution
At a time when each application program "owned" the data it used, a company often had multiple copies of similar information:
- "... people would get five different reports and the inventory balances would say five different things. What were our sales during April? Well, you'd get five different numbers, depending on how you total things up."
The problem was known, and CODASYL's Database Task Group Report wrote about it, as did General Electric and IBM. Cincom's TOTAL "segregated out the programming logic from the application of the database."
Despite IBM being "where the money was," there was still the matter of large/OS or small/DOS, so they "implemented 70 to 80 percent of the application programming logic in such a way that it insulated the user from" whichever they used; some used both.
Thomas Nies and Cincom
From 1968 through the present, Cincom founder Thomas M. Nies has been the longest actively serving CEO in the computer industry, and Cincom Systems was described in 2001 as "a venerable software firm, included in the Smithsonian national museum along with Microsoft as a software pioneer."
1968 to 1969
Convinced that software was a potential profit center, rather than a drain on profits, as was then viewed by IBM management, Thomas M. Nies, left IBM late 1968 and brought along Tom Richley and Claude Bogardus. This executive trio functioned as sales and marketing (Nies), product development (Richley), and research and development (Bogardus). By March 1969, the company became a full-service organization by adding principals Judy Foegle Carlson (administration), George Fanady (custom systems), Doug Hughes (systems engineering), and Jan Litton (product installation).
The name Cincom was a contraction of the words "Cincinnati" and "computer."
Initially they simply wrote programs for local companies. At some point they realized that the data management aspects of many programs had enough similarity to develop a product. From this effort came what became Total, an improvement and generalization of IBM's DBOMP.
Other than IBM, which was still in the "selling iron" business, Cincom became the first U.S. software firm to promote the concept of a database management system (DBMS). Cincom delivered the first commercial database management system that was not bundled with a computer manufacturer's hardware and proprietary software.
1970s and 1980s
Cincom introduced several new products during the 1970s, including:
- SOCRATES (1972), a data retrieval system for receiving reports from the TOTAL database system.
- T-ASK (1975), an Interactive Query Language for Harris computers
- MANTIS (1978), an application generator. It has developed enough of a following to still be the focus of attention in 2017.
- Manufacturing Resource Planning System (1979), a packaged ERP field data system for manufacturers that is the ancestor of today's CONTROL system.
Starting in 1971, Cincom opened offices in Canada, England, Belgium, France, Italy, Australia, Japan, Brazil and Hong Kong.
New products introduced in the 1980s included:
- EPOCH-FMS (1980), a directory-driven financial management system.
- Series 80 Data Control System (1980), an interactive online data dictionary.
- TOTAL Information System (1982), a directory-driven database management system.
- ULTRA (1983), an interactive database management system for DEC's VAX hardware. This offering was part of a strategic move to recognize DEC, and quickly resulted in one out of five customer product purchases being for VAX systems.
- PC CONTACT (1984), a fully integrated, single-step communications facility that interactively linked an IBM mainframe computer with the user's IBM personal computer.
- MANAGE User Series (1984), an integrated, decision-support system that combined extensive personal computing capabilities with the power and control of the mainframe.
- SUPRA for SQL (structured query language) (1989).
- CASE Environment (1989), a series of integrated components that assisted users who were facing cross-platform development demand from multiple areas within their computers.
- Comprehensive Planning & Control System (CPCS) (1989), a resource and project guidance system that centralized management of resources and activities.
By 1980, TOTAL product sales reached $250 million.
New products during the 1990s, included:
- AD/Advantage (1991), an application development system that automated development and maintenance activities throughout all phases of the application life cycle. AD/Advantage is a component f MANTIS
- XpertRule (1993), a knowledge specification and generation system.
- TOTAL FrameWork (1995), a set of object-oriented frameworks, services and integrated development environments (IDEs) for the assembly and maintenance of Smalltalk, Java, C++ and Visual Basic business applications.
- Cincom Acquire (1995), an integrated selling system for companies that deliver complex products and services.
- AuroraDS (1995), an enterprise-wide solution that allowed organizations to automate document creation, production, output and management in a client/server environment.
- SPECTRA (1997), a system that provided customer administration and resource efficiency for telecommunications, utilities and service industries.
- gOOi (1997), a solution that turns traditional server-based applications into graphical integrated desktop (client) applications.
- Cincom Encompass (1998), a suite of integrated components for next-generation call centers.
- Cincom Smalltalk (1999), a suite that includes VisualWorks and the ObjectStudio Enterprise development environment.
- Cincom iC Solutions (1999), a technology that combines sales and marketing automation with knowledge-based support for product and service configuration.
2000 to Present
New products include:
- Cincom Knowledge Builder (2001), a business-rules management system that streamlines sales and service processes by providing advice and guidance at the point of customer interaction.
- Cincom TIGER (2002), a tool that integrates all data sources within an organization.
- ENVIRON (2003), an enabling technology that helps manufacturers integrate their business systems, improve their business processes and eliminate waste throughout their organizations.
- Cincom Synchrony (2004), a customer-experience management system for multi-channel contact centers.
- Cincom Eloquence (2006), a document-composition solution that provides business-line professionals with the ability to generate dynamic-structured and free-form documents.
- Cincom CPQ, configure-price-quote software that can integrate with Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce and other CRM systems to create a complete multi-channel selling tool that simplifies sales processes and product configurations.
2007: Cincom generated over $100 million in revenue for the 21st straight year, a feat unmatched by any private software publisher in the world. Microsoft (a public company) is the only other software publisher in the world to reach this milestone.
References and footnotes
- "Cincom Names Greg Mills, to Corporate President Position". February 21, 2017.
- Tom Nies (December 31, 2009). "Cincom Systems' Total". IEEE Explore. IEEE.
With this article, he describes how Cincom, the company he cofounded in 1968 with only $600 in capital, grew into one of the largest software ...
- "35% Choose CINCOM". Computerworld. March 15, 1982. p. 45.
... Cincom's TOTAL is ...
- "Prerelational DBMS vendors – a quick overview". February 9, 2006.
With BOMP and D-BOMP, IBM was probably the first company to commercialize precursors to DBMS. (BOMP stood for Bill Of Materials Planning, foreshadowing the hierarchical architecture of IMS.) ... In the 1970s, Cincom was probably the most successful independent software product company. Its flagship product was Total, a shallow-network DBMS that was a little more general than the strictly hierarchical IMS.
- "SUPRA Server SQL". IBM.com. May 10, 2017.
Ideal relational database for all client server SQL applications. Runs and looks the same on all platforms from Windows NT to the most current Z/OS(tm) and z/VSE(tm)/ESA as well as running on legacy OS/390, VSE, OpenVMS and UNIX systems . ODBC 3.0 compliant. Even has TCP/IP support on VSE. Brings the performance needed on mainframes to the NT market. Highly scalable, SUPRA SQL can handle data volumes most client/server databases can only dream of. Cincom was the original database company (emphasis added) and brings more than 30 years of experience to the support and development of our databases.
- "Cincom Systems".
Thomas Nies' experiences at IBM installing applications convinced him that the industry's future was in software.
- Transcript of 1995 interview "Transcript of a Video History Interview with Mr. Thomas M. Nies, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Cincom Systems, Inc. – and the longest-serving CEO in the Computer Industry – Interviewed by David K. Allison, Division of Computers, Information & Society, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution". Smithsonian Inst.
... with IBM I was selling technology. ... whereas with Procter & Gamble it was mass merchandising and mass marketing. Interestingly enough, these two industries have now come together. The computer industry has since become a mass merchandising industry, and ...
- "History of Cincom Systems Inc". FundingUniverse.com.
IBM's computers were sold with only the most basic operating system; it was left to customers to program specific functions. Unable to convince others at IBM of the efficacy of designing and selling more useful software, Nies, Richley, and Bogardus struck out on their own. ... devised its first software application, the TOTAL database management system.
- "Evolution of Database Management".
- the Conference/Committee on Data Systems Languages
- "Thomas M. Nies: Executive Profile & Biography". Bloomberg.com.
Mr. Nies served as the President of Cincom Systems Inc. until February 2017 and serves as its Chairman
- https://www.cincom.com/blog/news/cincom-names-vp-international-sales-greg- mills-corporate-president-position
- Rachel Melcer, Courier Staff Reporter (June 11, 2001). "Cincom hit by cash crunch". BizJournals.com.
- "25 years in the pursuit of excellence: Cincom" (PDF).
- McGee, W.C. (Sep 1981). "Data Base Technology" (PDF). IBM Journal of Research and Development. 25 (5): 505–519. doi:10.1147/rd.255.0505. Retrieved Mar 20, 2019.
- "Package Gives User Control of Dumps". Computerworld. October 24, 1977. p. 25.
... enables users of Cincom's Environ/1 teleprocessing monitor to collect ...
- Paul Lynch (September 16, 1997). "The Mainframe Adventure – Cincom".
They felt that they needed better technical backup for their new on-line module (available for CICS and Cincom's own TP monitor, Environ/1)
- "Cincom MANTIS Share". SourceForge.net. March 24, 2017.
MANTIS is a hybrid high level programming language and tools optimized to crank out "line of business" applications. It allows focus on business data and process instead of technology. However, access to low level technologies are available if desired.
- "TOTAL Information System (TIS)". Computerworld. November 7, 1983. p. 37.
When TIS became commercially available in the spring of 1982 ...
- Nina Maginnis (April 27, 1987). "Cincom updates Ultra's capabilities". Computerworld. p. 26.
The new release of Cincom Systems, Inc.'s Ultra ... a relational data base management system for Digital Equipment Corp.
- "Cincom offers Mantis for DEC's VAX". April 29, 1985.
- "Cincom and its partners provide innovative software solutions".
Cincom SUPRA Server PDM is Cincom's hierarchical, interactive database management system. SUPRA maintains data and coordinates database access ...
- "Cincom AD/Advantage 5.5.01 Overview". CNet.com.
- "Cincom AD/Advantage enters UK". Computerworld. May 20, 1991. p. 10.
Cincom's AD-Advantage has been under development for six years and has recently been marketed in the UK
- "Cincom Mainframe Software".
Cincom Mainframe Software AD/Advantage Category: Application Development. A component of MANTIS. AD/Advantage automates development activities in ...
- Wenling Chen. "An Introduction to Smalltalk".
- "Customer Communications Management | Eloquence | Cincom Systems". www.cincom.com. Retrieved 2018-04-24.
- "Cincom Announces 21st Straight Year of Over $100 Million in Revenue".