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Software Publishing

Software Publishing
Software Publishing Corporation
1901 Landings Drive
Mountain View, CA 94039
Year Founded:
Year Defunct:
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Software Publishing Corporation (SPC) was a Mountain View, California-based manufacturer of business software, best known for its pioneering Harvard Graphics presentation package.

SPC was established in 1980 by three former Hewlett-Packard employees, Fred Gibbons, Janelle Bedke, and John Page, with an eye to producing packaged software for personal computers like the Apple II. The first application to be launched was the "Personal Filing System" (PFS), a desktop database program. With the advent of the IBM Personal Computer the following year, the company quickly shifted focus to the burgeoning DOS desktop market.

The PFS brand was extended to other office software, such as pfs:Plan, a spreadsheet, and pfs:Write, a word processor. While relatively limited in their capabilities, they proved popular with beginners for their simplicity. IBM licensed the software as its "Personal Computer Assistant" series for the PC and IBM PCjr in 1984. By 1985 the company had achieved $50 million in revenue.

In 1986, SPC released Harvard Presentation Graphics, one of the first PC applications which allowed users to combine charts, clip art, and text into presentation slides, which drove the company to new heights. Revenues reached $150 million in 1990. As the popularity of Harvard Graphics soared, SPC shifted focus to high-end business software. It sold the PFS lineup to Spinnaker Software in 1991.

The shift led, however, to the company's demise. By 1993, Harvard Graphics accounted for 80% of SPC's revenue, but its market performance in the Microsoft Windows world was lackluster compared to competitors like Lotus Freelance and Microsoft Powerpoint which came bundled with office suites. In 1994, the firm laid off half its staff and Gibbons stepped down as chief executive. In 1996 SPC was purchased by and became a subsidiary of Allegro New Media, a New Jersey-based multimedia publisher, which had purchased Serif Inc the same year, and renamed itself Vizacom in the fall.

Vizacom sold Serif back to its management in 2001, and with it the rights to the Harvard Graphics line of products, which continue to be marketed by Serif.