From 1983 to 1985, I was a lone developer. From 1985 to early 90s, I worked on design/architecture and lead projects. Then I transitioned into a product owner/manager role
During 1983-85, I worked on several small consulting assignments and built tools to help automate boring stuff influenced by Unix “Software Tools” philosophy.
- Cobol Filter – a program to convert one dialect of Cobol to another. It was a tool a computer vendor used to migrate customers from competitors to their platform. They also used it to run Cobol Benchmarks. I wrote it in Cobol!
- A Competitive Intelligence tool for Computer vendors. Several vendors built and sold 8086 and other 16-bit microprocessors and needed a set of benchmarks to identify performance bottlenecks.
- A database engine called Gemini. Worked with a vendor team on the specification, Architecture and Design. Wrote a tiny app – a database schema parser. It was my first program in C and my first project involving open source. We used DECUS (DEC Users Society) C on a PDP-11.
- A Cobol Compiler accelerator for DEC PDP-11. I ended up writing a device driver and an application to speed up compilation. It was one of my most satisfying products. I came up with the idea, did 80% of the coding/testing and got a big boost in compilation speed.
- Came up with the idea to extended the memory address space of PDP-11 application by creating a pre-processor, inter-task manager for COBOL. I worked only on design. A friend of mine implemented it a few years later. We called it CobEx (a Cobol Extender)
It was the birth of Coromandel/CoSoft. We were a small team of about 5 people. We worked on several projects between 1985 to 1995.
- A Lotus 123 clone prototype. My colleague did all the coding, but I worked on the design. Just two of us worked on it. We wrote it in C, on an MS-DOS running on PC-AT. We called it 456. It had 70% of the features of Lotus 123, but we never launched it.
- First prototype of an SQL engine in DOS. Three of us did it in less than 6 months.
- Shipped our first DOS database engine called C-SQL.
- Built a portable SQL engine called Integra SQL. I wore many hats – product owner, manager, designer architect and tester. Our core team had three members and grew to seven. We sold Integra SQL till mid 90s in the USA and in India.
- An ISAM engine called C-Trieve based on X/OPEN standards. built to replace C-ISAM which we used as part of Integra SQL. A company called ImageSoft published the product. We sold it direct and one of our OEMs sold it along with their product as well. We worked with Window 2. X and ported the DOS version., Windows 3.0 appeared and saved us. That is how we got into the Beta program of Ruby (which was the code name for Visual Basic).
- Objectrieve-C – We took C-Trieve, our ISAM engine and added BLOB support and user-defined data types. One of the gratifying things for us at Coromandel was that Obectrieve was used in an application to manage a Democratic National Convention.
- Obectrieve/VB was our first product for Microsoft VB. We were in the VB launch event.
- DbControls/VB our second VB product – a set of custom controls (they called VBX components as custom controls) for building database apps with minimal coding. A product manager from Europe licensed 1500 units (our first order) to distribute in Scandinavian countries.
- Integra VDB – The first product to use ODBC drivers on Windows, a natural evolution of DbControls/VB. Supported several SQL databases. Integra VDB was one of the most successful products we ever built in Coromandel and did about 3 million dollars in its first year.
- We licensed Integra VDB components to Borland International.
- Visual Query Builder (VQB) was modeled after the most popular query tools in Microsoft Access. We licensed VQB to Borland as a component in their Delphi Enterprise Edition. (1993)
- Integra VDB for Visual C++ was our first database component for Visual C++. We were featured in the Visual C++ launch video. In fact, in a rare gesture, Microsoft allowed us to show case the product with their Visual C++ launch team in 8 countries in Europe.
- Integra BAB – Next generation of VDB builder (1994)
- A custom ODBC driver for a Graphic Database product (1994-95)
- A custom ODBC driver for a Canadian product (1994-95)
We sold Coromandel in 1996 and I went to work for the company that bought us for two years. Moved to California (Coromandel was in New York) in 1997. Had a lot of fun. Met cool people like Doug Engelbart (inventor of the mouse), serial entrepreneurs like Rajan Raghavan and started iMorph. In iMorph, we prototyped a few products and launched two. I spent more time working with students teaching them how to build products and hang out with startups in Chennai.
- Intelliweb components (a set of web components for Dreamweaver). Did an MVP and after talking to several user groups, found that it was not a sustainable business and scrapped it. (2001-02)
- We built InfoMinder to scratch an itch I had. I was doing research on XML and had 300 bookmarks. I wanted something that would go to all the book marked pages and check for updates. The first was a few lines of PERL code. In a typical tech developer fashion, we spent all the money in development and did not have a marketing budget. I posted messages in a two or three forums and in a couple of months, we had over 3000 users using the product. We distributed it free for a year and watched how people used it. Some users were tracking thousands of pages daily. My partner and colleague built InfoMinder and is still running after 16 years and being used. One of our original beta users is still using the product.
- We built TopicMinder because one of our customers wanted something similar to Google alerts in a narrow domain. TopicMinder aggregates RSS feeds, collects data every day and sends out alerts based on pre-defined queries.
- We are currently working on InfoAssistants. InfoAssistans are a set of Data Collectors, Analyzers and Generators. We have an MVP and testing it with a few users.