In the late 80’s I was doing affiliate relations for about 120 radio stations (in Missouri and Iowa). I had a card for each station in a Rolodex on my desk. Using a typewriter, I packed as much information on each card as possible. Station manager, program director, news director, address, phone, fax (few if any email addresses in ’87). By my right knee was a file drawer containing manila file folders for each station. This would contain copies of all correspondence; notes from phone calls and f2f visits. It was a paper world. The portable version of the Rolodex was a page with as much of the info as could be crammed on a sheet of paper. (Columns: City, GM, PD, ND, Address, Phone, Fax, etc)
I had a computer on my desk but I don’t recall when I moved from DOS to Windows. But somewhere in here I was using Borland Reflex, a flat-file database management system for DOS. It was the first commercial PC database to use the mouse and graphics mode, and drag-and-drop capability in the report formatting module.
I used Reflex as a ‘customer relationship management’ program before there was such a thing (that I knew of). I was in heaven. I sorted and searched and generated reports. I used one field for notes (every phone call, letter and in-person visit).
Sometime around 1987 I was visiting Bill Weaver, the GM of KFRU in Columbia, MO, and I must have mentioned my little database. Bill showed me the program he used to manage all of his contacts: ACT! I was smitten! Did all the things I hacked out of Reflex but so much more. I immediately bought a copy and became insufferable to my co-workers.
While attending COMDEX in 1992 (Chicago), I saw what I believe was the first Windows version of ACT! $500 but I had to have it. Bought it on the convention floor.
I lived in ACT! for many years after. Probably well after Outlook took over the company network. Grown men were reduced to tears when they were forced to give up ACT!