Metrowerks: fantastic rise of the small company

The story of a small canadian company, without which the transition to PowerPC Macs could fail, whose CodeWarrior and PowerPlant for several years was the most popular authoring tool for Macs, double-murdered (involuntarily) Apple…

At the peak of popularity, Metrowerks was neither small nor canadian, but that doesn’t matter.

It all began in the town of Hudson, in the French speaking canadian province of Quebec, in 1985. At first it was modest and usually there were no signs of Metropolis Computer Networks neither the world popularity as well as a fantastic takeoff. Greg Galanos, in the past one of the developers Think C from Symantec, he founded a company selling Internet traffic in the region, and without any problems took the leading position. Business calm, profitable, almost without shocks.

In the world hundreds, if not thousands, of providers who have decades of fed owners and employees if they will not be lazy and not do anything stupid. But the man with the motto Veni, Vidi, Codi (“I came, I saw, I coded”, adapted from the classic Veni, Vidi, Vici), plenty of enjoying a quiet and peaceful life, relapsed.

In 1988 together with Jean Bellange, Greg released the compiler Modula-2 for Mac and Unices. Most likely, it was the first commercial compiler Modula-2 in the world. The compiler has had “moderate success”. Moderate from the point of view of observers of the big computer magazines. Income from the sale of the compiler exceeded the income from the main activities of the company.

In 1988, Greg and Jean, for the first time, thinking about moving somewhere where taxes are not as high as in Canada (especially for dealing with“non-core activities”).

Canada is a welfare state that is not cheap.

For several years the Metropolis Computer Networks, which replaced the long and banal title for a short and mysterious Metrowerks, continued to service users, but to completely stop “non-core activity”, they could not. By the way, do you understand where did the new name of the company?

In 1992, a team of several people inside a small company, got involved in his business: consortium of Apple+IBM+Motorola announced its Napoleonic plans for the implementation of the RISC-processor (based on POWER) in the personal computer industry, and the “ass kicked”.


Office Symantec, developed widely known in the industry are integrated to the development environment, and compilers for them from 1988 to 1992 it was unprofitable. I can only guess why. Failures Symantec became one of the reasons for the success of our heroes.

There are not so many developers of compilers of high level. Greg, at the time, was one of them, communication with colleagues is not lost, and when they began to leave EN masse from Symantec, he quickly and quite easily was able to negotiate with them about a joint project.

The basis of the new development environment the prototype was created by Andreas Hominem still in Symantec, but not caused interest in the management of the company. The Think Class Library and C Think, in the opinion of management, had to pull out of the quagmire instead of to generate any new ideas.

Soon, Metrowerks was a whole team of people from Symantec, the prototype that it was decided to use as a base, was bought from Andreas Hammele time went.

The situation is similar to Apple, in the days when all the revenue from the sales of the Apple II was directed at the development of the Macs that were unable to feed themselves. Users of the Hudson and the adjacent territories had to pay for Internet services, a provider spent the money on…

The project fascinated all the more: was fantastic. The flaws, which were infested with the existing development environment from a variety of companies, from Apple to Microsoft, was well known to the developers, and the ingenuity of them was not to occupy.

WWDC 1994

Compilers for PowerPC and 68k showed fantastic results, and after a year and a half at WWDC 1994 in San Jose, Metrowerks, for the first time in its history, showed its tools to a wide community of developers. First as guests on stage on the opening day of the event, then, with details, in the working days of the conference.

They hoped to succeed, but the reality exceeded all expectations: it turned out that the transition to PowerPC Macs under threat: not from Apple (in the Apple MPW), nor at Symantec, developer Toolkit for Macs with PowerPC practically still was, and soon his exit was not expected, because of the numerous difficulties and inconsistencies. The company, which employs 20 men, were willing to offer almost ready environment CodeWarrior DR/3 – with which already right now you can develop, without unnecessary noise and complexity, the code for PowerPC.

CodeWarrior DR/3 was released exclusively for WWDC, 5 may 1994. Willing to try was very much the number of identified bugs was immense – I Metrowerks had so many testers. By themselves, the bugs and the testers would not be something special, if not for the situation and the honor of the uniform.

If you intend to sell the development environment, with tools to debug code you don’t have right to debug your product “to the public” for too long. They were still waiting for the reaction of a huge and wealthy competitors. And, working almost round the clock, were able to release CodeWarrior 4 just a month and a half, June 26, 1994.

It was a success, sales – fantastic, favorable press, and the customers suddenly found themselves even Apple itself.

Success… kills. I have seen a small, fanatically loyal to his ideas of the teams, unchecking the “jackpot” (much smaller than the one that fell on Metrowerks), remember about many different things before thought, and cease to work.

Metrowerks has successfully overcome the test of copper pipes. Six months later (amid a hurricane in sales), 12 December 1994, the company released a CodeWarrior 5.

Austin, TX

In 1994, Metrowerks opened a branch in Texas, which was engaged in sales of CodeWarrior, and participated in the development. In 1994, distributed development has not yet become something that is routine and widespread, and promised the brave a lot of problems – but if you develop development tools, such extreme is incredibly good for you.

Wrote guy Kawasaki, “you taste produced by dog food”.

In 1995, the team was already working in Europe (Paris), Canada (Hudson) and in the USA (Austin, Texas), along with more than a successful development of the core product accumulating invaluable experience in distributed programming.

To be continued.

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