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Kapor, Founder Of Lotus, Starts New Software Company

November 17, 1987

NEW YORK (AP) _ Mitchell D. Kapor, the millionaire founder of Lotus Development Corp., said Tuesday he has formed a new company called On Technology Inc. that will make computers easier for people to use.

Kapor said the company, based in Cambridge, Mass., will develop software ″engines″ enabling personal computers to do tasks that have not been possible.

″To my knowledge, this is the first attempt to provide a whole set of software building blocks for intelligent information systems,″ Kapor said in a telephone interview.

On Technology will start out developing software for Apple Computer Inc.’s Macintosh. Kapor said he expects it to have its first products available at the end of 1989 or the beginning of 1990.

Kapor, 37, resigned in July 1986 from Cambridge-based Lotus, the company he founded in 1982, but remains on good terms with the company.

Lotus rapidly became the world’s biggest publisher of software for personal computers, mainly on the strength of its first product, Lotus 1-2-3, the world’s best-selling application program.

Lotus 1-2-3, designed by Kapor, is an electronic spreadsheet which allows users to plot rows and columns of numbers, such as in a budget, and easily recalculate them with a press of a button.

Kapor said he was initially putting up all the money for On Technology, a sum he said was ″in the low seven figures″ - that is, more than $1 million.

He said there were only three employees so far: himself as chairman and chief executive; former Lotus executive Peter B. Miller as president; and Lillian Rosen as corporate administrator.

Kapor said his goals for On Technology were difficult to describe because ″there really isn’t anything like what we’re trying to do at this point.″

He said it might, for example, enable people to search through computer libraries more effectively or work on a computer without learning the details of how it works.

Esther Dyson, editor of Release 1.0 newsletter, one of the only outsiders familiar with On Technology, said she thought the company would try to make the ″grease″ that helps people work together in computer networks.

″This is the first of what you might call groupware that a lot of people are working on,″ she said.

″I think what they’re doing absolutely needs to be done,″ Ms. Dyson said. ″I have great respect for Mitch’s imagination and vision. ... Peter Miller is a very smart and technically competent guy. He knows how these things work.″

On Technology announced its formation on Monday but gained little attention at first because of a foul-up in publicity.

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