MicroFour was officially formed in October of 1989 by four siblings (Cynthia Johnson, Steve Taylor, Jay Taylor, and Brett Taylor) after a successful run in the mainframe industry. But seeing that PCs were the platform of the future, they took a leap of faith and changed directions. But none of may have ever come to fruition had they not had the proper encouragement and motivation. To understand that, we need to go back a little further.
The Taylor’s grew up in a small West Texas town by the name of Iraan. Down in the Permian Basin area of Texas, this small town sits on the Pecos river with a population that has never exceeded 2,000.
Iraan was a boom town that came up once oil was discovered on the Yates ranch. This field became known as the Yates Oil Field and before oil was discovered in the Middle East, boasted the one of the highest production wells in the world. This well would eventually be tended to by J.N Taylor, the father of Cynthia, Steve, Jay, and Brett.
J.N. Taylor grew up in this oil field. His parents, Mack and Lady Taylor, were early residents of Iraan before there was really a town in place. They lived in camps, south of Iraan, in the early days with nothing more than a canvas tent as shelter. Lady would later recall how when she got a wood floor (i.e. wooden platform, no longer a dirt floor) she thought she was living “uptown.”
In the late 20’s, new camps were built for company housing. Retaining the name of “camp” since canvas was replaced by wood, these newer camps provided much better living accommodations. Years later, after J.N. Taylor went to work for Marathon after coming back from the war (WWII), he and his wife (Gwen Taylor) would live in one of these camps until Cynthia, Steve, and Jay were 6, 4, and 1 respectively.
As the years passed each of the boys would find work in the oil fields. This would become an important factor in their story as college approached. J.N. and Gwen were fierce proponents of education and wanted their children to have opportunities that they had not been afforded for one reason or another. J.N. was always ahead of his time and was very forward thinking. He would tell the kids, “Computers are the wave of the future. That is what you need to do.” Not ones to buck their Dad, they did just that. Marathon would allow the boys to work during the summer and then go back to school in the fall. They could make enough money during the summer for tuition, board, and books for the next year. It was tight, but they made it work by doing some jobs on the side. They would all attend West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M) in Canyon, Texas and major in computer related fields.
Moving from Mainframes to Personal Computing
In 1980, Steve and Jay started a mainframe business named Taylor Management Systems (TMS) with a focus on accounting for major oil companies. Cynthia and Brett would both join the organization within a few years. Developing in Cobol they created a fuel wholesaler / distributor information system dubbed, “The System Solution.” Ahead of it’s time the system would handle billing of lading entry, accounts payable, accounts receivable, inventory, keylock, service station verification reporting, general ledger, payroll, cardlock, degree day accounting, fuel oil delivery scheduling, and C-Store System (Convenient Store System).
As the 1980’s progressed, it became evident that the personal computer market was gaining steam. With reliable operating systems available for this new platform which included IBM PC DOS and MS DOS, the siblings began to think about forming a new company. But what market would they go after? By chance, a chiropractor friend happened to mention in passing one day if it would be possible to create a billing and charting package for chiropractic offices. And the idea grew from there. With a new company formed, MicroFour, Inc., they set out to create their first package outside of the oil industry.