From BOMP to SaaS and Beyond: 1990s (Part 6 of 9)

This is Part 6 of a 9 Part Series on the History of ERP.

1990s: ERP, Windows, and The World Wide Web

By the 1990s the market was again shifting. Noticing this, T. Lee Wylie introduced the term ERP in Gartner’s “ERP: A Vision of the Next-Generation MRP II” published April 12, 1990. The major difference between MRP II and ERP is the underlying technology which at the time was moving to fourth generation languages (4GL) on a relational database with a graphical (Windows) user interface.

Definitions of ERP in the early 1990s tended to include the extension of MRP II to all parts of the manufacturing business including human resources, scheduling, and sales – areas that were traditionally not included in MRP II. Microsoft Windows grew exponentially in popularity between the launch of Windows 3.1 in 1992 and Windows for Workgroups in 1993 to 1994.

It’s worth noting that Dick Lilly was at it again founding Lilly Software and launching Visual Manufacturing in 1991. Visual Manufacturing was likely the first ERP software available on Microsoft’s fledgling Windows operating system. Other popular Windows-based ERP systems soon launched including DCD’s Vista and later Vantage. These products were incredibly popular in the late 1990s with Vantage eventually converging into Epicor ERP in the 2000s. This created a race to Windows that would follow for the next several years.

It’s during this time that the term “lipstick on a pig” really caught on as legacy MRP II products and now aging DOS-based products were frantically scrambling to put a graphical user interface on top of their old applications (or to redevelop for Windows) to modernize their software.

Only a fraction of the MRP II products from the 1980s succeeded in moving to Windows successfully. Newer products were introduced during this time including Intuitive MRP which touted itself as the first truly Microsoft SQL ERP system. Solomon also moved to Windows and rewrote for Microsoft SQL but it took many years for others to follow suit. State of the Art opted instead to develop a completely new system – Acuity Financials launched in 1996 on a 100% Microsoft platform eventually became Sage 500 ERP.

Starting around the early to mid-1990s the market witnessed its first major flurry of acquisitions as MRP II / ERP vendors scrambled to acquire best of breed software vendors to bolster their product offerings. Most common of these were production scheduling, product configuration, and various supply chain management applications as evidenced below with the list of just a few of the major APS acquisitions in the late 1990s:

APS Acquisitions

• Red Pepper acquired by PeopleSoft (1996)

• Pritsker acquired by Symix (1997)

• C-Way acquired by DataWorks (1998)

• Bridgeware acquired by Made2Manage (1998)

The 1990s witnessed a huge transition in ERP with the advent of Microsoft Windows and the commercialization of the internet. As we near the end of the 1990s the industry braced for the end of the world (the Y2K bug) and the dot-com bubble would soon swell and burst setting the stage for another decade of change. Little known NetLedger (NetSuite),, and Intacct were founded at the tail end of the 1990s and again, everything was about to change.


Continue to Part 7:

Part 1: Crucial Events in ERP: From BOMP to SaaS and Beyond (10/6/2016)

Part 2: 1950s: The First Business Computers (10/11/2016)

Part 3: 1960s: BOMP & the Early Days of MRP (10/13/2016)

Part 4: 1970s: MRP Software Industry (10/18/2016)

Part 5: 1980s: MRP II and PC-Based MRP (10/20/2016)

Part 6: 1990s: ERP, Windows, and The World Wide Web (10/25/2016)

Part 7: 2000s: Merger & Acquisition Market Consolidation (10/27/2016)

Part 8: 2010s: The Great Cloud Migration (11/01/2016)

Part 9: The Future/Death of ERP Software (11/03/2016)


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