Posts by JC Herlitz

About the author

JC Herlitz

CEO

Excosoft’s founding mastermind, JC, has a long history in technical documentation, and a perpetual zeal for making it as simple as possible.

Why Reading and Learning in Wikipedia is More Productive with Wikiview

By JC Herlitz

 

When it comes to digesting information, one of the basic human tendencies is the utilization of abstractions. We learn it very early. It’s how, for instance, we’re able to identify the creature standing in front of us as a dog, when we’ve never even seen a Boxer before.

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Information Design Skribenta
Wikiview

How We Built Excosoft: The Birth of a Company

By JC Herlitz

The Spread of EXCO

EXCO’s usage spread quickly after Försvarets materielverk (FMV) adopted it into their operations in 1983. First at Ericsson Radio Systems (ERA) where I worked, then within other Ericsson companies — like Ericsson Radar Electronics (ERE) in Gothenburg, Ericsson Information Systems (EIS) in Kista, and Erisoft in Luleå. Next, EXCO spread to other large industrial companies, such as SAAB Military Aircraft in Linköping, ESAB in Laxå and ABB Automation in Västerås.

Soon enough, a technology consulting company called Frontec was requesting to become a distributor. It was through them that EXCO proceeded to spread to Alfa Laval in Tumba, and Atlas Copco in Lindingö.

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Excosoft

How We Built Excosoft: The First Bubble 1986-1991

By JC Herlitz

Small and Lucky

In September 1986 we were on our own. Some lucky circumstances helped us survive:

  • Ericsson Information Systems (EIS) was one of our customers and they were focused on the newly evolving PC market. We got an order from EIS to adapt EXCO for DOS— the Disk Operating System from Microsoft. We needed somewhere to be and they let us sit in a room, together with other consultants, in the big building very close to the Kista Center. After 6 months, we were ready. We got 80,000 Swedish Crowns for the job which was a lot of money.
  • One of our biggest customers, ABB Automation in Västerås, had been holding off on some orders until Excosoft was officially founded—  these orders were now occupying  most of Lennart’s time.
  • My father, 69 years and newly retired, asked me if I needed help with accounting. He had studied law and worked in the Department of Agriculture his whole life, though he claimed he had taken a course in Double Entry Bookkeeping.
    I accepted his offer without knowing how extremely important his contribution would turn out to be. Keeping track of the financial transactions, paying taxes in due time, establishing bank relations and getting a credit check, paying salaries and invoices, and much more— all this just to function, to support the basic survival needs of the company. Meanwhile, we nerds focusing on programming didn’t have a clue! But my father, he solved the task splendidly. And he didn’t even charge us anything!

After the EIS job, we rented a little room from Radiosystem AB which had its own entry. It was located in the north of Kista. Now we started to feel like a real company. Pär joined the company. And then we hired Anette, realizing we needed a receptionist.

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Excosoft

How We Built Excosoft: The Importance of Keys

By JC Herlitz

It’s worth taking a moment to pay tribute to the tools of the time, when EXCO was first coming into being. EXCO was developed in the context of a key-centric, terminal-based computer era— a stark contrast to today’s mouse pointing, screen-touching navigational approach. Let me paint a picture of what working on computers was like in those days.

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Excosoft Skribenta

How We Built Excosoft: The Early Adopters

By JC Herlitz

EXCO for Programmers

Back at Ericsson Radio, following my 1980 summer holiday, I presented EXCO Editor to my colleagues. It was very well received and programmers started to write hierarchical code.

This technique later became known as Literate Programming.  In Literate Programming, the real code is wrapped inside pseudo-code, i.e. descriptive titles which document the code. Pseudo-code can be wrapped in higher levels of pseudo-code, thus creating higher levels of abstraction.

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Excosoft Skribenta

How We Built Excosoft: The Dawn of the EXCO Editor

By JC Herlitz

An Electronic Engineer Turned Programmer

In 1975, Stansaab, a company outside of Stockholm, got a big order from the Soviet Union: 3 air traffic control systems for Moscow, Kiev, and Mineralnye Vody. USSR wanted to be prepared for the increased air traffic expected in 1980, the year of the Olympic games in Moscow.

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Excosoft Skribenta