It’s 1985. There is no Internet and no websites. There’s no social media outlet on which to post pictures of your lunch. PCs are on the brink of popularity. University of Missouri computer science grads Tom Smith and Bruce Barkelew have just quit their jobs at an engineering firm on the West Coast. They are returning to Columbia to turn their side project, a software program called ProComm, into a full-time endeavor.

“We were two guys holed up in our apartment cranking out code — then product — like crazy,” Smith says. The pair was building what could be considered an early equivalent to today’s Web browsers. “It’s what you used to connect to other computers around the world.”

Columbia provided them a cheaper place to live than the Bay area while they turned ProComm, a product of Datastorm, into a success. Datastorm hit number 376 on the Inc. 500 list in 1992, and in 1993, the program hit the No. 1 spot on PC Magazine’s list of top retail software.

In 1996, Smith and Barkelew sold Datastorm to Quarterdeck (later purchased by Symantec). Although Smith is “just a humble publican now” (his words), as part of one of the first tech companies in town, he and Barkelew helped pave the way for a new generation of techies, along with others such as Bill Fairman of Faircom, Ewin Barnett of Carfax, Brant and Brock Bukowsky of Veterans United and more (our words).

“We showed it didn’t matter where you were located as long as you could attract talented people and connect to your customers,” Smith says.

The biggest thing Datastorm did, Smith says, was build a large talented staff. “I still, after all these years, have employers come up to me and tell me what great employees the old Datastormers are. They’re in high demand, and it appears to be a very valuable line on their resumes, at least in Columbia.”

Datastormer or not, here are seven of the CBT’s Top in Tech.

Steve-Powell Jonathan-Sessions Bill-Turpin Natalie-Hardin George-Pfenenger Jessie-Yankee  David-Nivens-248x300

Recent News

DIY & Debt-free: The Rigdons’ Home Renovations on a Budget

Sometimes you hear a story that grabs you — someone does something heroic and it inspires you to try something heroic too. That’s what...

Nominate a high school senior for 20 Under 20!

We’re looking for Columbia’s next generation of young leaders to join 2018’s class of 20 Under 20, our annual list celebrating the young adults...

Smokestack Art and The Loop

At a recent conference in Winnipeg I had the pleasure of visiting The Forks, an area located at the junction of two large rivers....

Building a Successful Employee Wellness Program

This article appeared in print as part of “Doing Well: What’s the Real Value of Employee Wellness” In a 2010 Harvard Business Review article,...

CBT Wants Your Opinions!

  We want CBT to be a place where people can exchange ideas to make our community better. With that in mind, we’re going...