Rich Lauer, Former President of Pick Systems
1. How, when and under what circumstances did you get started in PICK?
My first job out of college (right after the civil war) was with Burroughs Corp, a large, old line business machines and mainframe company. A couple of years later, my second job was with a startup called Basic/Four Corporation in 1971.
My boss at B/4 was a remarkable guy (some would say “wild-man”) named John Keogh. And B/4 OEM’d their CPU from another early-stage minicomputer firm called Microdata, in Irvine, CA.
Keogh subsequently moved to Microdata and brought me along. They had recently signed a licensing deal with Dick Pick for his DM512 technology, which was renamed “Reality.” Keogh’s new job was to set up a Reality dealer/distribution network, and he was quite successful in this effort. I eventually became EVP of Southern California Data, the local Reality “dealer.” In addition to his job at Microdata, Keogh was the owner/founder of Southern California Data—a brilliant move on his part—and we experienced considerable success as one of the original Reality dealers.
Over the next 6-7 years, we sold hundreds of Reality systems, and I personally came to know Dick Pick and his team quite well. It was a great time to be young, successful, and involved in a HOT market.
2. Why do you think MultiValue applications continue to thrive despite being greatly exaggerated otherwise?
Reality and the numerous other PICK-compatible MultiValue platforms provided a powerful, easy to use, and portable development environment for thousands of turnkey applications. Some of the most successful included firms like: ADP & Reynolds & Reynolds, both with their impressive auto dealer management systems. ADP was one of the first turnkey minicomputer-based solutions in the market with 10,000+ customers and still (along with R+R) the dominant auto dealer solutions in use today—green screens and all!
Thanks to PICK, these solutions and 100’s of others were easily developed, cost-effective, and highly efficient.
3. What is a memorable event or funny story from your time in the market?
PICK was written and maintained in a 2nd generation “meta” assembly language. When it was ported to a new system, the PICK assembler instructions would be mapped to the new hardware’s (or OS) instruction set and fine-tuned from there.
PICK often threatened to sue imitators, but seldom did. Usually, they would sign a license agreement for the technology and move on.
In those days, one of the threatened suits that actually went to court; and eventually resulted in a judge-ordered evaluation of the accused firm’s source code. PICK maintained that they had previous access to PICK source code and had used it for the development of their product. Naturally, the defendant vehemently denied this.
Well, it seems that one of Dick Pick’s programming techniques included the liberal use of generic subroutines for frequently used functions. The assembler provided for three-character labels for these types of routines. In particular, Dick regularly used an “AMF” labeled wrap-up routine for closing files, etc. Dick being Dick, no one was surprised when they learned that AMF actually stood for “Audios Mother FXXXER”
(😊 you get it).
So, when the source code in question was reviewed for litigation, it was found to be riddled with AMF-labeled common wrap up routines. Needless-to-say, the dispute was quickly settled for a great deal of cash and stock!
4. What are you doing now?
I’m retired and mostly enjoying life. I still do a little consulting and am fairly healthy for a guy my age. My wife of 35 years passed away about 10 years ago. So these days I’m now living with my youngest daughter and her family (1 terrific husband + 2 amazing grandkids) in Greenwich, Connecticut. I do my best to spend time with my other daughter as well, who lives in Florida with her 4 kids. By any account, I’m a lucky guy!
5. What are you passionate about and why?
Grateful for a family that actually seems to want me around, old friends (I still have a few), and long-standing conservative values.
6. Who else would you like to see profiled or interviewed? Why?
Max Malone. In the very early days, Max was the VP of Software at Microdata. From there, he went on to become the president of PICK Systems for several years.
Max managed to keep Microdata and PICK Systems both moving in the same direction—something they each desperately needed. A very high-quality guy as well.
7. Any words of advice during our current world situation?
Don’t take life too seriously. Everything is important, but we will all get through this difficult period.
Be grateful for and appreciate your family and friends. And be thankful for all the remarkable experiences you’ve been blessed with over the years. I certainly am…
Also – enjoy a nice glass of Cabernet from time to time…