CSI started out doing some general business systems, but quickly focused on the Retail Industry. We later added the University Auxiliary Service products, and the networking products (which we sold through a dealer network we created). The customer lists are from my memory and may not be totally accurate and are surely incomplete... but they give you some idea of the scope of CSI. This list contains mostly those customers from the fifteen-year era in which I was a part of CSI, not the UniQuest era.
Any note about the old CSI would be incomplete if I didn't mention the people who made everything happen. We had an exceptional collection of people whose later careers define success. We hired people into their first professional jobs who are now at the "C" level in major international corporations. Our tech teams were brilliant, our application development teams were the best in the business, sales and marketing folks were prolific, our support staff was excellent, and finally but not last... our customer service team was truly exceptional. I applaud them all now, even as I was hard on them then. They taught me so much and I will always be proud to have known each of them.
CSI/Uniquest's principal market was the Retail Industry, focusing primarily on medium to large non-food chains. This included fashion, general merchandise, and other sectors.
Our Retail Industry systems were written for the Pick Multi-Dimensional Database System, whose concepts are now behind many of the Business Intelligence (“BI”) systems in use today. Using the database engine as the basis for our applications, we could quickly and relatively easily adapt them for expanding requirements and custom needs. We could also readily port the applications across many different computing platforms. Our Retail Industry software ran on mini-computers from Microdata, Honeywell, IBM, General Automation, DataMedia, ADDS, Pertec, and others, and on IBM mainframes and even Personal Computers (“PC”s). We could scale up or down as we needed to without change to the structure of the application set. The applications and their architecture were advanced for their day, with many features and functions being data-driven, and even the look of the application on-screen being data-driven. Unfortunately, the power of the system added to the complexity of its initial setup, and this load fell to our customer service folks. Resolving problems, however, just cemented their relationship with the clients.
The CSI retail systems were enterprise in scope. We handled virtually everything in the business (except payroll production, though we did that for some of our earliest customers), including modules for:
This list is only from memory and is incomplete and I am sure it has some errors. The locations listed below are their principal headquarters or center of operations:
The Auxiliary Services were those units of universities and colleges that dealt with such things as Bookstores, Food Service Operations, and Student ID systems. CSI/Uniquest had sophisticated products to serve each of those requirements. The Food Service product is now serviced by Aurora Informations Systems, run by the some of the same team that we had at CSI. I wish them continued success. They have maintained and improved the original CSI FoodPro system since their rollout from UniQuest in 1994. They support, I believe, about 40 FoodPro university clients, and some correctional facility clients. Again, these are only the customers that I remember or had heard of, and this list may have errors:
We created a communications product, the “IMC”, that was designed to enable our retail systems to integrate easily with the many manufacturers and models of Point of Sale systems that we encountered in our client base. This allowed us to perform the integraton with virtually any kind of POS that could communicate transactions (stored or real-time). Our IMC solution to either real-time or scheduled poll POS transactions cost a small fraction of other solutions... typically from 20-30%.
Later, we generalized and extended the product to act as a protocol converter, enabling computers with only non-synchronous communications to work with synchronous devices, and synchronous communications between computers. It permitted us to network mini-computers and to satellite mini-computers with mainframes of the day. We established a dealer network to sell that product. Listed are some of the dealers that I can remember, and again, the list may contain errors:
When we first started up, our first customer was Kontes Glass in Vineland, NJ. We replaced Kontes’ NCR card/disc batch system with an interactive terminal-based system on a Microdata minicomputer. We then did quite a number of custom systems for businesses in South Jersey and Philadelphia. These were done in RPG-II on a Lockheed System/3, a knock-off of the IBM System/3. This was all done before we settled on doing the Retail Industry as a focus.