Approaching 30 years of age is a big deal. It is – for some – the final threshold to adulthood. For companies in general, approaching 30 is not really a big deal given that many businesses have a 100 year plus tradition. But for a software company approaching 30 really is a big deal.
Has life really changed in the last 30 years? The basics are the same, but how we communicate, do our jobs and plan the future has dramatically changed. Today we use personal computers, tablets, and smart phones to do many routine tasks and have created a world without borders where information is always at your fingertips.
Laplink passed its 29th anniversary in May 2012. Wow! There really aren’t many software companies still around after 30 years. For Laplink (or Traveling Software as it was called in the early days), it all started with building software for one of the first computing devices – the Radio Shack M100 built by Kyocera. It was running a version of Basic with an i80C85 processor and had between 8 and 32k RAM. (That’s right – “k” as in kilobytes, not megabytes or gigabytes!) The built-in display was an 8×40 character LCD screen. Introduced in 1983, it retailed for over US $ 1,000. As with many tech people back in 1983, the founding members of the Laplink team (led by Mark Eppley) were fascinated by that device!
“T-Word” by Traveling Software was the first word processing software that could change its font size to adapt to the small LCD screen. It was followed by “T-View” to show a full page with 80 lines on a 40 line display. Then came products like the “Traveling Time Manager”, the “Traveling Sales Manager”, and even the “MacDos”. Traveling Software took on a lot of projects whose concepts were later made famous by the emerging Lotus, Microsoft, Ashton-Tate or Borland.
In 1986 LAPDOS was formally introduced, creating the first split screen environment for file transfer between devices – and the first OEM to ship this product was HP. LAPDOS evolved into LapLink, which achieved 115 kbps over a serial cable, far outclassing the usual speed at that time of 9.6 kbps.
Another break-through came in 1987 when the “Sharp Wizard Link” was introduced by Traveling Software with the ability to sync PIM information from the Sharp to a desktop PC.
In the early 90’s, innovation focused on file transfer and syncing of data. New versions of LapLink were introduced as well as the “Apple Newton PC-Link”. During those days, the “delta differentiation technology” SpeedSync® was invented, which transferred the difference within a file and not the entire file. Incidentally, a new product was launched at this time called WebEx which allowed offline browser access. Sometime later, a company named WebEx was formed and the trademarked name was sold by Laplink to this company.
Many other products and innovations followed. Over time, the name Traveling Software was changed to Laplink due to the popularity of that brand. Over 20 million customers used the LapLink product and many still have the famous Laplink cables in their homes.
Today, Laplink remains focused on its traditional software expertise: synchronization, file transfer, PC-to-PC migration, remote control, and similar technologies. Today, we are very proud to have the best- selling PC migration software in the world, PCmover, which helps consumers, professionals and even Top 100 enterprises save time and money when “moving” into a new PC.
Nearly 30 years of software development have been completed and there’s no end in sight. As Bill Gates so often said: “The future of technology is yet to come.”