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On July 1st, Advantage Computing Systems will celebrate 30 years of serving the publishing industry.  The company is hosting a picnic later this month for current and former employees and their families at the Ann Arbor site.  In addition to large grills to cook hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken, inflatable jump tents and other amusement items are being brought in.  Games and prizes will keep the little ones happy and for older "children," the dunk tank is a popular attraction (although perhaps not for those sitting in it!).   The Velcro wall and padded jousting suits are also good for some laughs.   The forerunners of what is today Advantage Computing Systems began operating in 1979, although the company—then T & B Computing—was not officially incorporated until 1980.  Due to an agreement allowing employees of the companies that were formed into ACS to count their years of service in those firms, several current ACS employees can boast more years of service than the company has been in business! In its early days, the software was written in Cobol (ugh!) and Fortran and ran on PRIME computers.  The computer room was half the size of a football field and each of the dozens of machines in it was as big as a refrigerator, each with perhaps 4 to 8 MB of memory.  PCs did not exist and programming was done on green screen terminals, including the old reliable IBM 3101s which had dipswitches to enable lower-case letters. Software demonstrations have evolved as well.  The early years saw salespeople toting large, unwieldy dumb terminals and later, entire servers and the need to connect back to the home office with modems resulted in many instances of dropped lines and pauses to reconnect.  Web demo capability and the advent of websites have streamlined the demo process tremendously.  Face-to-face meetings with prospective clients are still an important event in the sales cycle, but now the software and a sizeable database is housed on a small, lightweight laptop.  The display projectors have also decreased in size and weight by several orders of magnitude. Support is usually web-based in 2009, while in the past, various methods of connecting were used and were slow, and expensive.  Reports and processes can be run instantly, providing the information needed to find solutions to support questions much faster than in the old days. And then there's the software itself.  Thirty years of development has brought it such a long way from the days when reports were printed out on green-bar paper and immediate access to customer or publication information was unheard of.  Today's data cubes and pivot tables, plus online, real-time updates mean that information and analysis is available almost instantly to service reps and customers alike.  And that information is much more comprehensive and detailed than was possible even a decade ago. ACS is proud to be celebrating 30 years in the industry; something not many technology companies get to do.  We appreciate all of our clients and the trust you place in us to allow us to serve your business. We pledge to do our best to serve you for another thirty years. Here are some major milestone events from the 30-year journey. 

Advantage Computing Systems History Timeline

1979

  • T & B Computing is formed by merging Publishing, Project Accounting and Project Scheduling divisions into one group with three products under Townsend and Bottum, Inc. (located at Research Park)  

1982

  • TBC moved to Eisenhower Place

1988 

  • TBC acquired by Thomas S. Monaghan, Inc.

1989

  • Introduced "The Publisher's Advantage Computing System®"
  • INTACT 50 starts phasing out
  • Migrated from Prime computers to DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation)

1990

  • Corporate decision to focus primarily on subscription and product fulfillment
  • TBC moves to Green Road.

1992

  • Roger, Tom and Sam purchase the company from Thomas S. Monaghan, Inc.
  • TBC moves to Domino's Farms
  • Employee count: 35

1993

  • First client running Advantage on IBM AIX goes live

1995

  • Advantage becomes a true client/server system with a Windows client and a VMS server
  • Windows 95 replaces Windows 3.1 as the preferred client for client server Advantage

1996

  • Windows NT becomes a valid server platform for Advantage

1997

  • Corporate name changes to Advantage Computing Systems, Inc. (nicknamed "Advantage" or "ACS")
  • Advantage is the first vendor in the industry to offer integrated e-commerce capability.
  • First building on Ranchero Drive is complete and ACS moves in

1998

  • Advantage ports to SQLServer and Oracle

1999

  • Advantageoffers multi-currency functionality to Publishing clients
  • Advantage Support Center is formed

2000

  • Advantage proves to be fully Y2K compliant, as predicted, and the world does not disintegrate!

2001

  • Advantage incorporates data-cube reporting tools

2002

  • First client in the UK – and first non-US—is signed
  • Second building on Ranchero Drive is completed and ACS engineering team moves south
  • ACS Children's Center opens to care for children of ACS staff

2004

  • First client in Australia is signed.

2005

  • Advantage 2005:The Next Generation new user interface is introduced
  • Access Management and Billing module is released to expand Advantage internet connectivity

2006

  • First client in France, Bayard Presse, is signed
  • Advantage goes multi-lingual
  • Direct debit functionality is added to Advantage

2008

  • Upgrade team completes 100th upgrade of the century. Celebrates improved and streamlined process which has helped create a stable base of 50 large clients running Advantage.

2009

  • 30th Anniversary!  Employee count has grown to 75 highly skilled and experienced professionals
  • 59 employees 5+ years with ACS
  • 38 employees 10+ years with ACS
  • 19 employees 20+ years with ACS
  • 14 employees 25+ years with ACS


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