SCS Celebrates 44 Years in Business
In September of 1975 skilled developer and new mother, Martha Cichelli, started her business in Allentown, PA. Her husband, Richard, was research manager for computer applications at the American Newspaper Publishers Association Research Institute. He was also Co-Director of the Computer Science Group in the Graduate School of Mathematics at Lehigh University.
Richard has often said that one of his happiest days was starting work at the ANPA/RI and realizing he would get to do computer science research that would help those who were charged with holding the powerful accountable. "It's in the Constitution." he would often say.
Martha brought skills she learned from DuPont and Pennsylvania Power and Light to her new business. Her accomplishments included developing and supporting the data management software used by PP&L in all its applications. She called her business Software Consulting Services. Her first customers included a major manufacturer (tracking court cases), a drug maker (indexing a library of research papers) and several hospitals. One of her biggest coups was getting a contract to build Apple II-based desktop applications for American Express.
In 1977 the Apple II+ was proving to be a great little personal computer. It had Visicalc, the first popular spreadsheet. It had a Pascal development system. It had many quirky applications that made use of its open bus (motherboard slots) architecture. What it didn't have were sophisticated applications. Thus the interest from American Express.
As a new type of entrepreneur and a woman in technology, she was written up in Inc Magazine and The Wall Street Journal.
Martha has been honored with the prestigious Lehigh Valley Business Journal 2016 Woman of Influence award.
About early SCS systems - one was used for managing intravenous solutions at several hospitals. It's a little tricky when a software bug could lead to using the wrong cancer medicine and kill a patient.
Martha and Richard still own SCS and serve their many clients every day. SCS remains a family-owned business.
Over 300 media businesses with nearly 2,000 publications in 10 countries are using SCS systems. Five different languages are supported.
Many of the technologies on which newspaper systems are built were first realized by SCS. Some of these include the first extensions to desktop layout applications that made them viable tools for newspaper pagination (e.g., the first XTension for QuarkXPress, commodity hardware from Dell, free open-source software, etc.)
SCS is a modest company that serves newspapers of all sizes (and other businesses).
Longevity characterizes SCS's staff. Up until recently the average tenure at SCS was 18 years. Most customers are on a first name basis with our support staff and (its less nerdy) developers.
In 2019, SCS hired six new developers. Several were to fill two positions left by those who retired after 25 years with the company. The others were needed because of the growth due to the successes of SCS's newest products and the recent demises of other vendors.
All SCS staff are well-paid US citizens. SCS competes effectively with the FAANG companies for the best computer science graduates.
No SCS customer has failed to publish due to a failure of any of their SCS systems.
The entire SCS staff is committed to the company's motto. "SCS builds trusted newspaper systems."
Articles in the SCS Blog are written by SCS employees and associated news outlets.