Seymour I. Rubinstein - Improper Credit

Improper Credit

Similar to many early pioneers in the software industry, Rubinstein is sometimes credited with actually writing the software that his companies have marketed. Some things Rubinstein is improperly credited with are:

  • Development of a BASIC compiler . The real BASIC compilers of the day were MBasic — Bill Gates' big success — and CBASIC by Gordon Eubanks. Rubinstein never had any involvement with a BASIC compiler. He was a COBOL man at that time.
  • Developing WordStar — The code was actually written by Rob Barnaby, who originally wrote a screen editor for IMSAI called NuEDit, (or NED). However, no part of the NED source code was used to develop a MicroPro program named WordMaster. The features that turned WordMaster (a programming editor, similar to vi in some ways) into WordStar — the common man's word processor — were mostly Rubinstein's.

"Seymour was the marketing brains — it was he that said we should address word processing to get a larger market. The defining change was to add margins and word wrap. Additional changes included getting rid of command mode and adding a print function. I was the technical brains — I figured out how to do it, and did it, and documented it. The product's success I think related both to it being the right product (Seymour) and to it being a fairly good implementation given the equipment (me)."
-- Rob Barnaby in email to Mike Petrie 3 May 2000

  • Developing Quattro Pro — The original Quattro Pro was a DOS program. The development environment — a Modula-2 compiler and a windowing system and a crude spreadsheet — were developed in Texas by a company started by Bob Warfield. Rubinstein bought that program and hired the developers and brought on Bob Richardson, former chief programmer at MicroPro to work on the compiler. Surpass (the program name) was developed in Novato, California by Bob Warfield, Dave Anderson, Weikuo Liaw, and Bob Richardson. Barnaby, from the WordStar days did a minor amount of work, as did Jim Fox. Surpass was developed by Surpass Software Systems and at one time was a major spreadsheet competitor as measured by P.C. Magazine. Surpass got great benchmarks and was popular, but due to a bad marketing division was never widely sold. Ingram was given an exclusive on the program but never sold it because Lotus was a major source of income for them. Surpass did not have the money to sue. Quattro was developed by Borland at about the same time sold considerably more units than Surpass and was probably profitable for Borland, but both products were clearly far behind the market leader Lotus. Phillipe Kahn saw the chance to double the development team and get some new technology ideas by buying the Surpass product at a bargain rate, giving him another shot at gaining the lead. So the entire operation was sold to Borland who moved the development to Santa Cruz and Scott's Valley. The Surpass codebase was converted to C and merged with existing Borland code from Quattro to form Quattro Pro, an extremely popular program — although the features such as Hot Links were largely first implemented in Surpass.
  • Developing WebSleuth — A widely used metasearch software for Windows 98. The actual code was written by Garnet R. Chaney and Bob Richardson (formerly of WordStar and Quattro Pro) with two weeks support from Jon Hibbins and team with some interface re-design and installation improvements. This company suffered from a lack of funding. The marketing effort was spearheaded by Penelope Lamars. The product is still being developed by a new company called Intesoft Systems. Rubinstein is a principal in the new company.

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