restricted access Obituary of Lawrence A. Welke
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Obituary of Lawrence A. Welke
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Lawrence A. (Larry) Welke, who in the mid-1960s became the world's first publisher dedicated to the newborn software industry, died 3 March 2012 of complications from a long battle with cancer. Welke's efforts to unite struggling software entrepreneurs, both through the pages of his journals and through an industry trade association, provided an early voice to defend the industry against predatory competitive practices by computer manufacturers, banks, and auditing firms. The early software industry leaders dubbed Welke "the father of the software industry."

While he was vice president of customer data services for an Indianapolis bank, Welke recognized a growing underground market of early sellers and buyers of software products, and he had the vision to see how enormous this market could be. In 1966, he formed International Computer Programs to publish a directory of software products. His first periodical, published in January 1967, was called the ICP Quarterly, which described 50 vendors and their 110 software products. By 1975, the ICP software directory vendor community had reached 800 and the number of products 3,000. A decade later there were 10,000 software products, and software was the most vital segment in all of the burgeoning computing industry.

In the early 1970s, Welke began sponsoring the ICP Million Dollar Awards Ceremonies to recognize software products that had generated $1 million or more in revenue. He was inspired by a financial analyst's comment dismissing the software industry as unimportant because no software product had ever reached $1 million in total sales. Welke began the awards ceremonies because he knew that this was untrue. The ceremonies played a major role in establishing the viability of the emerging software industry. In 1974, there were three products (Cincom's Total, ADR's Autoflow II, and Informatics' Mark IV) in the $10 million club, 11 in the $2 million club, and 16 in the $1 million club.

Welke also played a major role in founding the Software Industry Association section of the Association of Data Processing Service Organization (ADAPSO), which was subsequently known as the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA). Through his efforts, ADAPSO became a major voice representing the software products industry. He was elected chair of ADAPSO in 1989.

A biography of Welke by Thomas Haigh describing in detail his influential role in the software industry was previously published in the Annals (vol. 26, no. 4, 2004, pp. 79-91).

Luanne Johnson

Luanne Johnson is the cochair of the Computer History Museum's Software Industry Special Interest Group. Contact her at