In 1984, John Geibel, Dick and Nancy Crewdson rented a room from Diurmuid McGuire in a little building at 636 Waverley Street in Palo Alto and began offering custom programming services to anyone in the Silicon Valley who asked us. Diurmuid, who had a computer consulting company of his own, was a big help to us in getting started. Our first project was a COBOL project for Roxy Rapp's shoe store and that got us launched. Dick read up on COBOL over the weekend and did the small maintenance project the following week - our first and last venture into the ancient world of mini computers.
Meanwhile Nancy mastered the use of DOS and dBase2 to start our programming services in PC database programming which quickly became Cambria's main activity in the 1980s and continues to this day after evolving through a succession of related specialties including FoxPro, Clipper, Visual FoxPro and Microsoft Access. For most of the 1980s and early 1990s Nancy and her team mainly did FoxPro and then Visual FoxPro as DOS gave way to Windows Programming. We wrote hundreds of programs for clients big and small but culminating in a huge decade long project for Evapco Corporation. This period saw Cambria All Star programmers Myrl Dunker, Helen Bernstein, Greg McCann and others join Cambria and Nancy to build this activity.
While Nancy was building Cambria as a database programming company Dick worked largely in sales but also started a separate activity using Turbo Pascal, C and C++. This started slowly and much of the effort was expended in building the software that continues to be the basis of Cambria's internal systems to this day. But as Cambria attracted superb programmers like John Watson, Sasha Smundik, and James Cerezo to work with Dick we began to get large significant projects to suppliment our mainstream database programming.In the picture you see Dick working on a project in the 1990s to create the software for Mitsubishi's line of video conferencing products. Dick worked on the interface but it took Sasha to make the low level software work with the undocumented hardware. With the success of this project we proceeded to do other major projects for Mitsubishi which finally came to an end when the recession of 2001 caused them to pull back and eliminate the departments of Mitsubishi America that was supporting this work.
Meanwhile ARPANET was turning into the Internet we know today and the next thing we knew was that people began to ask us for Websites. We read up on HTML and in 1996 put up our first Cambria Website. As you see here this first effort was pretty primitive, and for a few days I could not figure out how to get rid of that blue post on the left. But nobody seemed to mind. Just getting something up, anything, was all that seemed to matter.
We had our ups and downs but these years were kind to us and over the 1990s we had expanded to the point where we were able to purchase that building at 636 Waverley Street and for good measure purchased the one next door at 640 Waverly Street to accommodate our growing staff.
Our problem now was one that early on seemed to be an advantage. We were in the Silicon Valley! We found ourselves competing with the likes of Apple, Google, and other major corporations for programming talent. It was not easy and we had to do something. What we did was to send James Bickley east to open a new office in Ardmore, PA in Greater Philadelphia where there was a wealth of great universities and colleges and the competition promised to be less intense. James surrounded himself with a new set of great programmers like Ragini Yalamanchali, Kathy Fisher, Natalia Gabrielian, and designers Beth Sullivan and, later, Jess Carpenter. Our Palo Alto staff celebrated this event in 1999 by having a party dressed as revolutionary Philadelphians.
Over the months since our first website we produced slight advances on Dick's website. We learned how to get rid of unwanted blue bands and to add pictures and interior pages. Our programmers even created sites for clients who seemed to like them. Then in the year 1999 we discovered that our clients began to want sites that showed artistic talent!
New designers have different ideas and when Catherine moved to New York we got another website, the 2004 site that you see here. We lived contentedly with modifications of that one for quite some time. By this time Cambria had weathered the 2001 recession but more and more we noticed that the major companies were going overseas to get their custom programming done.
Finally, in 2005, we decided to experiment with offshore programming ourselves. At first we looked for overseas partners but they were never there when needed so in 2006 we sent James Cerezo to Manila to hire a few programmers and see how that worked out. Our Manila office opened on January 5, 2007 with Jon Mora, Freddie Aujero and Dan Santor working for us and they worked out so well that we brought Richard Panopio, JM Gonzalez and Romeo Acidera on later that year*. Not so long after this Jenny Bacatio joined to whip us into shape and head up our sales effort. All in all our move to Makati was a resounding success and just in time for the 2008 recession that ultimately caused us to close our Ardmore office and shift most of our programming effort to our new Makati office.
Styles change and our designers in Makati, Fred Aujero and Sherick Nones, decided that we needed a new look and created the 2011 site that you see here. At the time when we worked on it I was amazed at how fast these sites go out of date. The most recent version before the 2011 site talked about e-commerce as a trend in recent years but did not mention programming for mobile devices such as iPhones, iPads, Android Devices and the like which had begun to become so important to us.
Quite a bit has happened since 2011. We have completed the move of most of our programming effort from California and Philadelphia to Makati. So far as our websites are concerned Fred Aujero left us to emmigrate permanently to the USA after 8 years of designing websites for Cambria clients and Sherick left due to medical reasons. Now we have new designers in Makati and a new site. Meanwhile Google announced that starting April 2015 non-responsive websites will be penalized so far as SEO is concerned when viewed on mobile devices. Responsive means that the site will auto adjust as the size of the viewing screen changes. Clariza did a quick fix in May to make our 2011 site pass google's test but her fix was not one that could be easily maintained so a new site was needed.
Shown here is the first version of our newest website designed by Apple Ilagan. Our previous site was not so much out of date technically but the demand for responsive sites changed design styles so much that we simply looked badly dated - to a designer the worst sin of all. Apple kept most of the content intact but radically changed the interface to display, and promote, our main asset here at Cambria: Our superb staff of skilled programmers. I hope you like it. If you do, Apple and Clariza can do one for you.
* Jon stayed with us until 2014 when he went out on his own, Dan emigrated after a few years to Canada, and Fred was with us until this year when he emigrated to the USA. Richard and Romeo are still here and we have high hopes that JM, who emigrated to Canada a few months ago, will come back and join us once he gets a taste of a Canadian winter. Our staff here is extremely stable but the lure for talented professionals to move to North America is a strong one.
1 Cambria Client Roger Williams. The program you use every day is an “executable”. It is created from “source code” written by the programmer. If you own it, anyone can modify the program. If not, you are at the mercy of the vendor. Make sure you own it.