Profile: Gary Elfring
The Association of Software Professionals started out in 1987. Our members invented the way that software is sold today, as pioneers in try-before-you-buy marketing.
Here’s another in our series of profiles of our members. All we asked was this: How did you get started?
I specialized in computer signal processing in graduate school. When I got out of school I went to work for a small medical company, which was a “pet” project of Mr Schlumberger. (One of the two brothers who founded Schlumberger.) He had a medical device based on a PDP-8 minicomputer and he needed major software and hardware developed for it. I finished the hardware and explained exactly how the software should work to Mr Schlumberger.
He did not think my software ideas would work or fly with the doctors who would use the device. He told me not to implement those ideas for his big conference where he would show off his new device. I, of course, completely ignored him. I made the software work exactly the way I wanted it, and I had a back door which would let it run the way he wanted it to work. (Just in case.)
At the big conference, I demonstrated the device, running in “Gary” mode. The doctors loved it. Mr Schlumberger was *very* quiet. Nothing happened for about 2 weeks after the conference. Then I was summoned to a meeting with Mr Schlumberger. He told me that my approach was much better than his, the doctors loved the way his device now worked, and he gave me a complete build-it-yourself home computer kit. (It cost about $2,000 back in 1976.)
I built the computer and started writing software for it, since there was nothing available. When CP/M came out I built a floppy disk interface and wrote the bios for the CP/M operating system and that brand of home computer. I started selling the bios and that was the start of my software sales.