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

Women Entrepreneurs: Creating the Brand

This post is the third in a four-part series about creating a new entrepreneurship program, the Missouri Women’s Business Center, while simultaneously helping entrepreneurs...

Finding Your Civic Voice on Predatory Lending

  Missouri has some of the laxest state regulations in the country on short-term loan companies offering quick-cash, payday, installment, or title loans —...

Vacant Lot? More Like a Park in Waiting.

  One thing we heard loud and clear at our planning open house for The Loop was the desire for more public space. I...

Press Release: The Business Times Company Leadership Changes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   COLUMBIA — The Business Times Company is proud to welcome Breck Dumas as the new editor of its flagship publication,...

A Day in the Life of Mid-Missouri Farmer Doug Nichols

This story originally appeared in print as part of “The Journey from Farm to Table”   Doug Nichols is the owner of Cloverleaf Farms....