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Featuring Bruce Barkelew

Back in 1986 Bruce Barkelew and Thomas Smith founded Datastorm, a company that existed from 1986 to 1996. Datastorm and their software, ProComm, was used by most BBS Sysops and users alike, where computer-to-computer modem connections were common. Datastorm was the first company to grow from a shareware model to a large retail company. ProComm 2.4.3 for DOS is still available as shareware today.

''With our success,", Barkelew said, "we could be anywhere. And life in Columbia is so pleasant.''

Bruce Barkelew

 

Barkelew was CEO of Datastorm Technologies Inc and ProComm Plus. Growing up in a small town he found, there were only cars and guitars to fill my time. I did both. He was the first to start racing when he was just 16 at the local drag strip and was a serious contender in SCCA Trans Am Series racing.

In September 1993, Procomm Plus for Windows reached the #1 spot on PC Magazine's list of Top Retail Software. In 1995, Datastorm sued Excalibur Communications over software infringement. Datastorm became the first company to sue a vendor for infringement of its software.

After the death of Andrew Fluegelman, creator of PC-Talk, a gap was left in the marketplace for dial-up and terminal emulation software. Bruce Barkelew and Tom Smith, students at the University of Missouri, created ProComm under the name PIL Software Systems as shareware in 1985 and incorporated in 1986 as Datastorm Technologies Inc. It was distributed through various BBSs. Datastorm chose Columbia, MO to open their company due to the relatively low cost of livingTemplate:Cite news. Datastorm had no seed capital, but by 1992 they were ranked #376 in the 500 Template:Cite news. The company produced a combination 16/32-bit Windows version, Procomm Plus for Windows, which included an early Web browser as a component.

Procomm Plus for Windows also offered support for the RIP graphic terminal language, allowing higher-resolution images than the ANSI standard in general use by bulletin board systems at the time. In 1995, Datastorm sued Excalibur Communications over software infringement. Datastorm became the first company to sue a vendor for infringement of its software using the shareware model. Datastorm was acquired by Quarterdeck in 1996 at a cost of over $70 million. Quarterdeck was later purchased by Symantec, and support of Procomm has been discontinued, although the software is still available for purchase.