Largest Provider of Commercial Smalltalk
Cincom is one of the largest commercial providers of Smalltalk, with twice as many customers and partners as other commercial providers.

Tom Nies

Get Started

Celebrating the Birth of Cincom Smalltalk, Part 3

Do you remember 1999? Were you still in grade school?  College?  As you reflect back to your personal journey in 1999, let us take you on a journey of two products that eventually found their way to the doorstep of Cincom Systems, Inc.

Soon, we will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of Cincom Smalltalk here at Cincom. Although our beloved object-oriented programming language has been around since before 1970, it wasn’t until late 1999 that Cincom brought ObjectStudio and VisualWorks together under the umbrella of Cincom Smalltalk. You can read more about the early years of Smalltalk and the dramatic origin of ObjectStudio in previous months’ editions of the Cincom Smalltalk Digest.

The Cincom Years

During the late 1980s to mid-1990s, Smalltalk environments—including support, training and add-ons—were sold by at least three companies: ParcPlace Systems, Digitalk and Enfin Software Corp. ParcPlace Systems focused on the Unix/Sun Microsystems market, while Digitalk emphasized Intel-based PCs running either Microsoft Windows or IBM’s OS/2.

Like Digitalk’s offering, Enfin ran on Windows and OS/2, but in contrast to the others, it was very commercially focused. Enfin had great database and mainframe connectivity and GUI design abilities, but did not have the polished class library and virtual machine of ParcPlace or Digitalk. In 1992, Enfin was acquired by Easel Corp, the maker of the 4GL Easel Workbench.

IBM, having initially supported both Digitalk and Enfin in different markets, entered the market with a Smalltalk product in 1993 called VisualAge/Smalltalk.

Enfin, renamed ObjectStudio, was acquired from Easel by Vmark Software Inc. of Westborough, Massachusetts in 1995. Cincom Systems, Inc. made ObjectStudio Smalltalk a component of its Total FrameWork product, and in 1996, VMark and Cincom Systems created a joint venture for ObjectStudio development, called CinMark. CinMark had engineering based in Stuttgart, Germany, and support based in the US. In 1997, Cincom acquired full ownership of ObjectStudio and moved development back to the US.

In 1995, ParcPlace and Digitalk merged into ParcPlace-Digitalk and then rebranded in 1997 as ObjectShare. The merged company struggled to find a way to combine the two products and organizations. By 1999, ObjectShare sold VisualWorks to Cincom.