As Accordance Turns 20
Our baby is now all grown up!
We bought our first Mac computer in 1984, three months after its debut, and soon afterwards a friend planted a little seed in our minds: why not write a program to use the Mac for Bible Study? We had a deep interest in the Bible, some knowledge of Greek and Hebrew, and the time to work on the project along with part-time positions in our own professions. It was an intriguing idea.
For all that the Mac was easy to use, it proved very difficult to program for. I well remember that it took several days of work before a blank window appeared on the screen. Eventually we had a nice basic program for English Bibles and we named it ThePerfectWord (a twist on WordPerfect, the popular word processor of that era). Soon people were asking for Greek and then Hebrew Bibles, untagged of course, and the program was upgraded to handle them. After a year or two Zondervan bought the rights and renamed it MacBible, and from 1989 we played no further part in its development.
The New Baby
By 1992 we were longing to get back to Bible Software. This time we partnered with The GRAMCORD Institute to adapt their fully tagged GNT and the GRAMCORD concept to the Mac. We named the new baby Accordance (spelled acCordance at first), and shipped the first copies in February 1994. We wrote the code, duplicated the floppy disks, printed the labels, and designed the logo, all in our home office. We hired a professional to create the font glyphs, and students to process the Bibles into modules and write the first manual, but these were almost our only expenses.
When we showed off our baby, some scholars reacted with "why would you want to have the Bible on a computer?” Others were wowed by the clean interface coupled with powerful grammatical searches, and many switched to the Mac just to use Accordance.
Toddlerhood and a Crisis
Growth was rapid in the mid-nineties as we added Hebrew, lexicons and commentaries, and many new features. The internet was becoming important and I created our first website without professional help. However, the Mac itself was apparently facing extinction. Apple’s future was so uncertain that I could not in conscience advise anyone to switch to Mac. Only Mac users were still buying Macs, but we stayed loyal, convinced that it provided the best environment for stable, fast, elegant software. However, we needed to expand beyond the student/scholar market and so we prepared two new CD-ROMs and headed for MacWorld Expo in New York 1998. We now had the interactive Atlas as well as a CD with popular resources at an affordable price, and scholarly materials available for unlocking. We also had a fresh set of crutches on which one of the team hobbled around New York to spare a recently broken leg. Apple then surprised the world with the first iMac, which changed everything.
Reaching for Independence
We eventually parted ways with GRAMCORD, having outgrown their focus on the scholarly market. Now we were hiring more staff, negotiating our own contracts, adding more and more materials, marketing for ourselves and presenting Accordance at conferences all over the world. A professional company managed the website and created an online store. The software was upgraded from the 68K Mac to PowerPC and then to OS X, but still limited to the Mac. We set up an office from which our customer service and technical support staff could handle our growing business.
In the last few years we have developed teams in several departments. The programming teams (working on a single code base) have successfully expanded Accordance to the iOS and Windows platforms. A large module development team provides new modules to satisfy the needs of a growing and increasingly diverse community of users. Our service and support staff are enjoying a much larger office facility. I personally am grateful for a team of assistants that does many of the jobs that used to fall to me alone: design, marketing, product release, technical support, documentation, and much more. Our baby has come a long way, and we are confident that it will continue to grow in strength and service to the community of those who study the Bible.