Intercom: “The Past: Where Did FrameMaker Come From? In April of this year, FrameMaker celebrates the 25th anniversary of its ‘birth,’ in terms of the founding of Frame Technology. Although Adobe acquired FrameMaker in 1995 and has successfully managed product development for the past 15+ years, it seems like a good time to revisit the product’s birth and try to determine how and why this sensible publishing solution has remained a market leader for a quarter of a century.

Although Frame Technology had several company co-founders (Steve Kirsch, inventor of the optical mouse; David Murray, inventor of FrameMaker tables and much of the UI; and finance maven, Vickie Blakslee), I decided to interview just one of the founders: FrameMaker’s inventor Charles Corfield. Besides inventing FrameMaker, Charles has successfully ascended Mount Everest, won several 50-mile marathons, has his own Wikipedia page, and even has a courtyard at Cambridge University named after him. How did this unique individual invent a publishing solution with such lasting power? In Charles’s case, it did indeed take ‘rocket science’ to get the process going.

‘It all started while I was a student at Columbia in NYC in the early 1980s, working on a PhD in astrophysical fluid dynamics,’ Charles recalls. Taking a hard look at the job market for academic positions in astrophysics, Charles realized that the market had virtually dried up, due to shrinking science budgets, which had soared in the 1960s and 1970s.

Desiring a career that would involve challenging, research-oriented work, Charles realized that he would have to get his work financed; he did not want to rely on the limited resources of the National Science Foundation (NSF), which funded nearly all such research in the early 1980s. ‘It occurred to me, why not just sell a product directly to the tax-payers, and cut out the middleman (NSF)? My next problem was: ‘what on earth’ was I going to sell to the consumer?’”

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