A Short History
Tussman Programs Inc. was incorporated in 1985 by David Tussman, a California attorney who at that time practiced law in Berkeley, California, specializing in advising non-profit corporations.
“When I got my first computer in 1983, I was terrified of them,” Tussman recounts. “But I needed one to prepare documents for my clients. One day I realized that my least favorite task was sending out bills. I used to type them myself by hand, and thought there must be a better way. I noticed that my Kaypro 4 computer had come with dBase II, which I learned was a database program that had its own programming language. So I bought two books on dBase II programming and began writing my own simple billing program. I got hooked, and after many hours refining and improving it I got the idea of selling it to other attorneys.”
“Easier said than done!” recalls Tussman. But finally The Tussman Program was introduced in September 1985 at the California State Bar meeting. “At first it was hard going,” Tussman states. “No one had ever heard of The Tussman Program, and to make a sale I had to go to a potential customer’s office and demonstrate the program myself. That was the easy part,” Tussman laughs. “Then the customer would call and say: ‘Well, I really like your program, but you need to make it to do such and such,’ And so almost every day I would go home and spend more hours programming!” As a result, Tussman II was released in 1986, Release 3 in 1987, and Release 4 in 1989. The current version, Release 10, is the result of years of refinements and improvements, incorporating suggestions from hundreds of customers.
“What makes Tussman Programs unique is that because we are a very small company, I have had personal contact with virtually every one of our customers over the years,” says Tussman. “Through this feedback I’ve learned exactly what features our customers want, and I’ve been able to improve the program to make it more reliable and easy to use. Its a bit like calling Microsoft and getting to speak with Bill Gates!” In 1987 Tussman phased out his law practice to concentrate solely on the software business. Today The Tussman Program is in use by an estimated 1500 law firms nationwide—many of whom have been users for 20 years or more.
And how did he get the idea for the name? “At first I wracked my brain trying to think of a cute name. One day someone asked what I was going to call my software. In a moment of whimsy I blurted out ‘The Tussman Program!’.” But there is a little more to it. Tussman’s father, Joseph, a professor emeritus of philosophy, ran an experimental undergraduate program at UC Berkeley in the 1960’s modeled after Alexander Meiklejohn’s famous experiment at the University of Wisconsin. It was popularly referred to on campus as “The Tussman Program.” “Some of my customers either remember my father’s program or took his course in philosophy of law,” Tussman concludes. ” They didn’t have computers back then, but even my father (who died in 2005 at the age of 90) eventually gave in and bought one!”