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Founded in 1974, ASK Computers produced software for use in business settings. It was most known for its Manman enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, which permitted manufacturers to plan materials purchases and production schedules on a scale that had previously been possible only on large mainframe computers. The company was also noted for its pioneering female founder, Sandra Kurtzig. Its business and manufacturing products were used by companies worldwide until it was acquired in 1994 by Computer Associates.

In the early 1990s, ASK concentrated on developing and introducing new products that provided communication between different computer systems and programs. The company also released an updated version of its original ManMan product, titled ManMan/X.

At the time, many small businesses lacked the resources¬†https://askcomputers.ca/ to hire a full-time information technology (IT) person. As a result, they often relied on the employee with the most computer experience to solve computer problems. This individual would often spend so much of his or her time fixing computers that he or she was not able to do their “real” job.

ASK’s first product, a program for Hewlett-Packard minicomputers called ManMan, helped these employees manage factory operations. Initially, the program had a six-figure price tag and was marketed to larger manufacturers. In an effort to make its system more affordable for smaller manufacturers, ASK offered it on a time-sharing basis, whereby small companies could rent terminals to operate the program for a lower monthly fee.

As technological advances made computing power less expensive, however, ASK began to lose market share to competitors. To stem the decline, in 1985 Kurtzig and her family members began selling off major blocks of their ASK stock holdings, a move that sparked a shareholder lawsuit. In an attempt to protect itself from a slowdown in spending by its customers, ASK Micro was formed to make ManMan available on lower-priced minicomputers.

Despite the launch of ASK Micro, the company was struggling by mid-1985. In an attempt to boost sales, ASK hired a number of sales personnel to push its Accounting Plus program and increase sales of the ManMan product. Unfortunately, this strategy backfired, as ASK’s sales of the former program dwindled and its overhead on the ManMan product skyrocketed.

By mid-1989, the ASK managing board approached Kurtzig and asked her to return to a management role. She agreed, and soon spearheaded a complementary expansion for the company by purchasing Data 3 Systems, a privately owned competitor that made manufacturing software. ASK paid $18.7 million for this company, which used IBM hardware, a natural complement to ASK’s own line of products for other systems. Kurtzig also revamped the way her old company was run, shifting staff and prioritizing new projects. She even changed such minor details as the quality of food and beer served at Friday evening celebrations in an effort to re-establish a positive work environment. In addition, she renamed the company ASK Group and split it into three separate businesses — ASK Computer Systems, Data 3, and Ingres.