Norell Data Systems

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A small company based in Los Angeles, California, USA that specialised in making software for the IBM PC, it was originally founded in 1982 out of an older entity called Programma Consultants that sold software and hardware for 6800 based personal computers, primarily those from Sphere Microcomputer but later started supporting other platforms. NDS was one of the first companies to start selling software for the IBM PC, specialising in small utilities although they did also offer some bigger programs and games but much of their content was licenced from developers of CP/M software and converted for the PC.

The company is notable for mainly two reasons, they delivered one of the first if not the first LISP interpreter for the PC in the form of the Norell LISP/88 package, one of the first C compilers and they also had the one of the first file compression program for the PC in the form of PACK & CRYPT, a package of a simple Hoffman type compression program similar to the UNIX PACK, and unusually enough for the time an encryption utility.

PACK almost became a standard on the IBM PC/DOS when the BBS culture exploded in 1983 as it was the only compression program commonly available for the PC, the only thing that hindered it was that the company did not offer a free decompression program so that it was replaced almost overnight when some of the CP/M vendors and freeware authors started to port their compression utilities to the PC, which in turn were replaced when ARC showed up in 1985.

The company fizzled out in the mid 80's with the shareware revolution as the sort of small utilities the company specialised in selling were better distributed via that channel and some of their products were overpriced in comparison, it closed down in late 1986 or early 1987.

Products

Norell Data Systems advert from the summer of 1982
  • Autodoc - Basic utility program.
  • Autodiff - Diff utility
  • Computer Chef - Recipe program
  • C/86 - Simple single pass C compiler - Only sold for a short while.
  • Disk Magic - File and sector utility.
  • Disk Rx - Floppy repair utility.
  • EasyCalc - Calculator with some spreadsheet like functionality.
    • Easycalc Spreadsheet Calculator - Later version
  • Easydata Information Processor - Flat file database program with screen painter.
  • Easytalk - Communications program
  • Easytext Formatting System - Text/print formatter.
  • Easyword Processing System - WP system, separate editor and text/print formatter (Presumably Easytext).
  • Eliza - Port of the classic AI program, also bundled with LISP/88.
  • Munchkin - Arcade game.
  • Norell LISP/88 - LISP interpreter
  • Norell Visualize - Visicalc development aid.
  • PACK & CRYPT
  • Phanthom Disk - RAM Disk
  • Rocket Command - Arcade game
  • System-Backup Utility
  • System-Spooler - Background print spooler
  • The Hermits Secret - Text adventure
  • The Original Adventure - a port of the classic mainframe adventure Colossal Cave.

Personnel

  • Melvin L. Norell (Founder/CEO, ex-Burroughs, later with USA Programming Group)
  • James Gillogly (Computer Chef and Easytext)
  • Harold Scott (Easytalk)
  • Orville Stoll (Co-author of Easydata with Norell)
  • Robert Wesson (Easycalc, also wrote PerfectCalc for Perfect Software)
  • Dian Girard (System spooler, later wrote assembly language books)
  • Paul Desjardins (Autodoc)
  • Walt Bilofsky (LISP/88, C/86, ELIZA and The Original Adventure)

Links