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Cincom Systems, Inc.
Company typePrivate
IndustryComputer software
IT Services
Key people
Thomas M. Nies, Sr., Founder/CEO
Greg Mills, President[1]
ProductsCPQ Software
Customer Communications Management Software (CCM)
Contact Center Software
Document Automation
Data Management
Application Development

Cincom Systems, Inc., is a privately held multinational computer technology corporation founded in 1968 by Tom Nies, Tom Richley, and Claude Bogardus.[2]


Cincom Systems was founded in 1968, when the product focus in the computer industry was far more on hardware than software,[3] and mass merchandising in the industry was nonexistent.[4] The company’s first product, Total, was the first commercial database management system that was not bundled with manufacturer hardware and proprietary software.[5]

Cincom was quoted by IBM as being "the original database company" in 2017.[6]

Thomas Nies

By the late 1960s, Tom Nies, a salesman and project manager at IBM, had noticed that software was becoming a more important component of computer systems and decided to work for a business that sold software. The only software businesses in existence at that time were a small number of service bureaus, none of which was located in Cincinnati, where Nies resided. In 1968 Nies joined Claude Bogardus and Tom Richley to found Cincom Systems, which initially only wrote programs for individual companies. Within its first year, the company realized that it was solving the same data management problems for its various clients. Nies proposed the solution of developing a core database management system that could be sold to multiple customers. Total was the result of this development effort.[4]

On August 20, 1984, U.S. President Ronald Reagan called Cincom and Tom Nies "the epitome of entrepreneurial spirit of American business."[7]


At a time when each application program "owned" the data it used, a company often had multiple copies of similar information:

"... people would get five different reports and the inventory balances would say five different things. What were our sales during April? Well, you'd get five different numbers, depending on how you total things up."[8]

The problem was known, and CODASYL's[9] Database Task Group Report wrote about it, as did General Electric and IBM. Cincom's TOTAL "segregated out the programming logic from the application of the database."

Despite IBM being "where the money was," there was still the problem of compatibility between large systems running OS/360 or small systems running DOS/360, so they "implemented 70 to 80 percent of the application programming logic in such a way that it insulated the user from" whichever they used; some used both.[8]

Thomas Nies and Cincom

From 1968 through the present,[10] Cincom founder Thomas M. Nies has been the longest actively serving CEO in the computer industry,[11] and Cincom Systems was described in 2001 as "a venerable software firm, included in the Smithsonian national museum along with Microsoft as a software pioneer."[12]

Corporate history

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1968 to 1969

Convinced that software was a potential profit center, rather than a drain on profits, as was then viewed by IBM management, Thomas M. Nies, left IBM late 1968 and brought along Tom Richley and Claude Bogardus. This executive trio functioned as sales and marketing (Nies), product development (Richley), and research and development (Bogardus). By March 1969, the company became a full-service organization by adding principals Judy Foegle Carlson[13] (administration), George Fanady (custom systems), Doug Hughes (systems engineering), and Jan Litton (product installation).

The name Cincom comes from the portmanteau of "Cincinnati" and "computer". This is due to the company being founded in Cincinnati, Ohio.[14]

Initially they simply wrote programs for local companies. At some point they realized that the data management aspects of many programs had enough similarity to develop a product. From this effort came what became Total, an improvement and generalization of IBM's DBOMP.[15]

Other than IBM, which was still in the "selling iron" business, Cincom became the first U.S. software firm to promote the concept of a database management system (DBMS).[16] Cincom delivered the first commercial database management system that was not bundled with a computer manufacturer's hardware and proprietary software.[5]

1970s and 1980s

Cincom introduced several new products during the 1970s, including:

Starting in 1971, Cincom opened offices in Canada, England, Belgium, France, Italy, Australia, Japan, Brazil and Hong Kong.

New products introduced in the 1980s included:

By 1980, TOTAL product sales reached $250 million.[citation needed]


New products during the 1990s, included:

2000 to the present

New products include:

2007: Cincom generated over $100 million in revenue for the 21st straight year, a feat unmatched by any private software publisher in the world. Microsoft (a public company) is the only other software publisher in the world to reach this milestone.[29]

References and footnotes

  1. ^ "Cincom Names Greg Mills, to Corporate President Position". February 21, 2017.
  2. ^ Nies, T. M. (December 31, 2009). "Cincom Systems' Total". IEEE Annals of the History of Computing. 31 (4): 55–61. doi:10.1109/MAHC.2009.93. S2CID 17112745. With this article, he describes how Cincom, the company he cofounded in 1968 with only $600 in capital, grew into one of the largest software ...
  3. ^ Nies, T. M. (2009). "Cincom Systems' Total". IEEE Annals of the History of Computing. 31 (4): 55–61. doi:10.1109/MAHC.2009.93. S2CID 17112745. Thomas Nies' experiences at IBM installing applications convinced him that the industry's future was in software.
  4. ^ a b Transcript of 1995 interview "Transcript of a Video History Interview with Mr. Thomas M. Nies, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Cincom Systems, Inc. – and the longest-serving CEO in the Computer Industry – Interviewed by David K. Allison, Division of Computers, Information & Society, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution". Smithsonian Inst. ... with IBM I was selling technology. ... whereas with Procter & Gamble it was mass merchandising and mass marketing. Interestingly enough, these two industries have now come together. The computer industry has since become a mass merchandising industry, and ...
  5. ^ a b "History of Cincom Systems Inc". IBM's computers were sold with only the most basic operating system; it was left to customers to program specific functions. Unable to convince others at IBM of the efficacy of designing and selling more useful software, Nies, Richley, and Bogardus struck out on their own. ... devised its first software application, the TOTAL database management system.
  6. ^ "SUPRA Server SQL". May 10, 2017. Ideal relational database for all client server SQL applications. Runs and looks the same on all platforms from Windows NT to the most current Z/OS(tm) and z/VSE(tm)/ESA as well as running on legacy OS/390, VSE, OpenVMS and UNIX systems . ODBC 3.0 compliant. Even has TCP/IP support on VSE. Brings the performance needed on mainframes to the NT market. Highly scalable, SUPRA SQL can handle data volumes most client/server databases can only dream of. Cincom was the original database company (emphasis added) and brings more than 30 years of experience to the support and development of our databases.
  7. ^ "- YouTube". YouTube.
  8. ^ a b c "Evolution of Database Management".
  9. ^ the Conference/Committee on Data Systems Languages
  10. ^ "Thomas M. Nies: Executive Profile & Biography". Mr. Nies served as the President of Cincom Systems Inc. until February 2017 and serves as its Chairman
  11. ^ Haff, Gordon (2021). Open Source Software (2nd ed.). Lancaster, MA, USA: Apress. pp. 143–172. doi:10.1007/978-1-4842-6800-1. ISBN 978-1-4842-6799-8. S2CID 219889655.
  12. ^ Rachel Melcer, Courier Staff Reporter (June 11, 2001). "Cincom hit by cash crunch".
  13. ^ "25 years in the pursuit of excellence: Cincom" (PDF).
  14. ^ Jones, Capers (2014). The Technical and Social History of Software Engineering (1st ed.). Crawfordsville, Indiana: Addison-Wesley Professional. pp. ch 6. ISBN 978-0-321-90342-6.
  15. ^ McGee, W.C. (Sep 1981). "Data Base Technology". IBM Journal of Research and Development. 25 (5): 505–519. doi:10.1147/rd.255.0505. S2CID 11487796.
  16. ^ "Prerelational DBMS vendors – a quick overview". February 9, 2006. With BOMP and D-BOMP, IBM was probably the first company to commercialize precursors to DBMS. (BOMP stood for Bill Of Materials Planning, foreshadowing the hierarchical architecture of IMS.) ... In the 1970s, Cincom was probably the most successful independent software product company. Its flagship product was Total, a shallow-network DBMS that was a little more general than the strictly hierarchical IMS.
  17. ^ "Package Gives User Control of Dumps". Computerworld. October 24, 1977. p. 25. ... enables users of Cincom's Environ/1 teleprocessing monitor to collect ...
  18. ^ Paul Lynch (September 16, 1997). "The Mainframe Adventure – Cincom". They felt that they needed better technical backup for their new on-line module (available for CICS and Cincom's own TP monitor, Environ/1)
  19. ^ "Cincom MANTIS Share". March 24, 2017. MANTIS is a hybrid high level programming language and tools optimized to crank out "line of business" applications. It allows focus on business data and process instead of technology. However, access to low level technologies are available if desired.
  20. ^ "TOTAL Information System (TIS)". Computerworld. November 7, 1983. p. 37. When TIS became commercially available in the spring of 1982 ...
  21. ^ Nina Maginnis (April 27, 1987). "Cincom updates Ultra's capabilities". Computerworld. p. 26. The new release of Cincom Systems, Inc.'s Ultra ... a relational data base management system for Digital Equipment Corp.
  22. ^ "Cincom offers Mantis for DEC's VAX". April 29, 1985.
  23. ^ "Cincom and its partners provide innovative software solutions". Cincom SUPRA Server PDM is Cincom's hierarchical, interactive database management system. SUPRA maintains data and coordinates database access ...
  24. ^ "Cincom AD/Advantage 5.5.01 Overview".
  25. ^ "Cincom AD/Advantage enters UK". Computerworld. May 20, 1991. p. 10. Cincom's AD-Advantage has been under development for six years and has recently been marketed in the UK
  26. ^ "Cincom Mainframe Software". Cincom Mainframe Software AD/Advantage Category: Application Development. A component of MANTIS. AD/Advantage automates development activities in ...
  27. ^ a b Wenling Chen. "An Introduction to Smalltalk". Archived from the original on 2018-08-29. Retrieved 2018-08-27.
  28. ^ "Customer Communications Management | Eloquence | Cincom Systems". Retrieved 2018-04-24.
  29. ^ "Cincom Announces 21st Straight Year of Over $100 Million in Revenue".