Spartacus Software – 1989

When Claris bought StyleWare, they told us the plan was for us to do something for the Mac that was like AppleWorks GS for the Apple IIGS. All we had to do was finish AWGS, and we would then start that work.

It did not work out that way.

AppleWorks GS shipped in October, 1988. It was not a commercial success. First, it was still buggy and slow. Second, the sales of the Apple IIGS itself were disappointing. And third, Claris needed engineering help on other teams.

After AWGS shipped, we were assigned to various teams in the company. I was assigned to work on FileMaker, which had been purchased by Claris a while earlier. They had an existing engineering team, and I joined them for a while.

Others on the team were assigned to other projects within Claris, such as MacWrite, and MacDraw. Two of those engineers were not at all happy about this, and they decided to head out on their own. Their story is captured well in this writeup: History of ClarisWorks, so I won’t recap the story here.

Soon after they left, Claris decided to do one last push for AppleWorks GS. The goals was to fix bugs and performance, add one or two glaring missing features, update it to the new much more stable version of GS/OS, and to not ship anymore versions.

I was not terribly happy with having to work on the Apple IIGS again, but I really had no choice. Right about this time, one of the ClarisWorks guys approached me, just like he had approached me at Rice about working at StyleWare.

“We would really like you to work with us at Spartacus,” he said, over lunch at Dela Cruz Deli, in Sunnyvale.

“I am interested. Can you pay me?”

“We don’t have any cash. We are working without salary. My wife is making some money, so the rent on the house is mostly being paid. We hope to have a nice payout, and you would be part of that.”

“Do you have a Mac for me to use? I don’t own one.”

“No, you’d have to provide one.”

I gathered my thoughts.

“I was not one of the principal developers at StyleWare. While I got some payout for our royalties, I had to buy a car with that money. I am making less take home pay in California working for Claris than I was making in Houston working for StyleWare. I have student loans to deal with.

“I just can’t work without pay, even if I moved into the house with y’all. I’m going to have to pass.”

He was disappointed, but he understood. His partner also talked to me, but basically just asked me to confirm what I had already said.

There was no way I could have done it. It was at least 12 months before Claris officially bought ClarisWorks from Spartacus. I am happy for the guys who founded it; they did well. Quite well.

They also invited me to work on ClarisWorks after the sale, but they decided to have the team in the Portland, Oregon area, and I was not interested in living there, and by the time they asked, I was working on cool stuff on FileMaker.

I did not receive a big payout, but I am very happy with the rest of my career at Claris.

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