William Appleton (entrepreneur)

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William Appleton
Born (1961-05-23) May 23, 1961 (age 56)
Occupation Software entrepreneur
Years active 1985–present
Known for Cyberflix
Titanic: Adventure Out of Time

William "Bill" Appleton (born May 23, 1961) is an American entrepreneur and technologist best known as the programmer of the first rich media authoring tool World Builder, the multimedia programming language SuperCard, a best-selling CD-ROM Titanic: Adventure Out of Time, and DreamFactory, a cloud service platform.

Early Life and Background[edit]

Originally from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Appleton graduated from Oak Ridge High School in 1979 before moving on to Davidson College, where he studied philosophy, painting and economics. In 1984 Appleton passed up an economics graduate fellowship at Vanderbilt University and moved into his parents’ basement, where he developed programs for his Macintosh computer.[1]


Appleton has designed and written more than 30 professional software publications throughout his career, including World Builder, the first-ever rich media authoring tool. Appleton also created the multimedia programming language SuperCard and developed Titanic: Adventure Out of Time, a national best-selling CD-ROM game that sold more than 5 million copies worldwide. He currently is the founder and chief technology officer of DreamFactory Software and is developing a cloud service platform in the enterprise space.

In 1989, Appleton won the Silicon Beach Software Technical Innovation Award, presented for his work in hypermedia development environments. Appleton owns two patents. The first, issued in 1997, covers a method for the production of digital movies.[2] The second, issued in 1998, describes a computer display system for the real-time display of digital movie frames.[3]

Appleton’s software applications include the following:

Silicon Beach Software

  • 1985, Scepters
  • 1986, World Builder
  • 1988, Apache Strike
  • 1989, SuperCard

TeleRobotics Inc.

  • 1986, Course Builder
  • 1987, Video Builder

Symmetry Corp

  • 1988, HyperDA


  • 1991, Creepy Castle


  • 1993, Lunicus
  • 1994, Jump Raven
  • 1995, Dust: A Tale of the Wired West
  • 1995, SkullCracker
  • 1996, Titanic
  • 1996, Time Lapse
  • 1998, Red Jack: Revenge of the Brethren

Disney Interactive

  • 1997, MathQuest
  • 1998, The D Show
  • 1998, ReadingQuest
  • 1999, Villains’ Revenge

Bandai Digital Media

  • 1997, Power Rangers

ActiveX Control

  • 2000, VoiceAnimation’s ActiveX Control
  • 2000, MessageBay
  • 2001, VideoAnimator

DreamFactory Software[4]

  • 2002, DreamFactory Player
  • 2003, SBuilder
  • 2005, DreamTeam
  • 2006, OrgView
  • 2006, SnapShot
  • 2006, Carousel
  • 2006, FormFactory
  • 2006, Web Meeting Mashup
  • 2008, TableTop
  • 2008, Monarch
  • 2009, GamePlan
  • 2010, Retail Relay
  • 2011, LaunchPad


After stints in Silicon Valley and Chicago, Appleton moved back home to Knoxville, Tennessee. From 1994 to 1998, Appleton served as founder and president of Cyberflix Inc., a Knoxville-based multimedia computer programming company specializing in interactive movie production.[5][6] While at Cyberflix, Appleton worked on the hit titles Lunicus and Jump Raven, both of which were sold to Paramount Technology Group.[7] At Cyberflix, Appleton also worked with Disney, Paramount and Viacom to create applications for content development.

In a 1993 interview with the Chicago Tribune, Appleton discussed what he saw as the future of video game characters. "Great dramatic issues will be played out on CD-ROM, things that will play all of the human emotions, love hate, joy, greed, childbirth, death, promotion, firing – you name it," he was quoted as saying.

Cyberflix launched its hit title Titanic: Adventure Out of Time in November 1996.[8] Production costs totaled $2 million, and the game retailed for $50.[9] The Titanic title went on to sell millions of copies and become an international best-selling CD-ROM game.[8] The game features an interactive, authentic replica of the Titanic ship that took two years of research to create digitally and included the use of the ship’s original blueprints.[8][10] At the time, the Discovery Channel called it "the most historically accurate digital model of Titanic available."[11] Titanic: Adventure Out of Time earned a MacHome Journal Home Choice Award in 1997, as well as a first place prize for best animation at the World Animation Celebration.[12] By 1998, Cyberflix had 35 employees, and annual revenue exceeded $3 million.[13]

Appleton is also credited with developing the first third-party enterprise applications for Cisco WebEx Connect, Microsoft Windows Azure and Intuit WorkPlace. Throughout his career, Appleton has worked with Disney, Paramount and Viacom to create applications for content development.


Appleton currently serves as chief technology officer of DreamFactory Software, a Campbell, California-based company he co-founded. DreamFactory builds software tools for the enterprise, originally targeting Salesforce.com users and currently developing a cloud service platform for enterprise companies to move their apps and data freely without any lock-in restrictions to any hosted cloud.

Personal life[edit]

Appleton lives in Los Gatos, California.[14]


  1. ^ Erik Ashok Meers (18 September 1995). "Talking With…Bill Appleton". People Magazine. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  2. ^ "Apparatus and method for digital movie production". Google Patents. 1 July 1997. Retrieved 14 October 2012. 
  3. ^ "Method and apparatus for displaying movies using Z-data information". Google Patents. 17 March 1998. Retrieved 14 October 2012. 
  4. ^ Nik Cubrilovic (6 March 2006). "Exclusive: Salesforce Business Mashups, New Developer Community". TechCrunch. Retrieved 19 November 2012. 
  5. ^ James Coats (10 December 1993). "Paramount Wants Cd-rom to Imitate Life – Warts And All". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 14 October 2012. 
  6. ^ "Sailing the digital seas". US News & World Report. 24 June 1996. 
  7. ^ Barbara Kantrowitz (28 August 1994). "Garage-Band Programmers". Newsweek (The Daily Beast). Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c "Titanic: Adventure Out of Time". CUC Software. October 1998. 
  9. ^ Brad Stone and Arlyn Gajilan (16 September 1996). "A Spy in the Cold". Newsweek. 
  10. ^ "Titanic". Seeking Alphas. November 1996. 
  11. ^ "Cyberflix's Titanic Joins International Research Effort in North Atlantic". Cyberflix Incorporated. June 1996. 
  12. ^ "Top Game: Titanic". MacHome Journal. September 1997. 
  13. ^ James Black (February 1998). "Making Dreams in Knoxville". Southern Living. 
  14. ^ Ronda Robinson (20 November 2006). "On-demand software company replaces Appleton's fun 'n' games". Knoxville Business Journal. Retrieved 14 October 2012.