BIDA0018 – The History Of Meta5


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Hello and welcome!

Thank you for dropping by our latest blog post today.

We really appreciate you taking the time to listen to, or read our latest blog post.

Thank You.

The purpose of this blog post is to share with you a little history of Meta5.

We hope that by hearing a little of the long and valuable history of Meta5 you will be interested to try it out for your self.


Meta5 was cofounded in 1982 by one of the two best known names in Data Warehousing.

Ralph Kimball.

It was created with the vision of empowering the business users in businesses to perform their own data analysis and reporting.

Quite a vision at that time.

If you know the name Ralph Kimball you really should try out the product that he invented.


To see for yourself why it remains uniquely valuable to business users today.

We would argue that just knowing how much Ralph Kimball has done in the data warehousing area should catch your curiosity enough to ask.

“What was this product that he created in the early 80s, and why is it so unique even today?”

“Where can I get a copy to play around with and evaluate?”

After all?

Ralph Kimball introduced the star-schema to the world at Metaphor.

The star schema has now become the standard way of implementing data warehouse data models.

Our BIDA Data Models are based on Ralph Kimballs star schema work that originated at Metaphor.

So please allow us to go through some of the history of Meta5.


Because it’s history will tell you just how good it still is today.

Everything you hear about here is available to you today for as little as two dollars a day.

That is 720 dollars a year as a subscription fee.


Let’s get on with the story.

Ralph Kimball was one of the researchers at Xerox Park.

He was the coinventor of the future of computing as you know it today.

After Xerox Park Ralph cofounded a company called Metaphor Computer Systems.

The purpose of this company was to empower the power data analysts at the worlds largest consumer packaged good companies to do their own data analysis.

Their vision for this product was to deliver a graphical user interface similar to what had been developed at Xerox Park.

The vision was that business people, without the delays introduced by IT people at the time, would be able to do their own data analysis.

At that time companies like Coca Cola and Proctor and Gamble were spending large fortunes on advertising.

But it was extremely difficult to analyze and understand the return on investment of the marketing dollars.

A company called I R I had developed a cube based product to help in this area and they were doing well.

With the experience from Xerox Park behind them, the founders of Metaphor Computer Systems believed they could build a product that could be successful in this area.

They were very successful.

Metaphor Computer Systems released their first product in 1984.

By 1989 Metaphor Computer Systems was the second largest data analysis software company in the world after SAS Software.

With revenues of nearly 300 million dollars, and more than 200 employees, they were the fastest growing company in the Business Intelligence space.

They counted some of the worlds largest companies as their customers.

The most notable of these were Coca Cola and Proctor and Gamble.

And many other companies used the Metaphor Software.

The first question you should be asking your self is this.

“Why was the metaphor software so successful?”

There were a number of reasons.


The interface replicated the office environment as it was envisaged at Xerox Park.

There were filing cabinets, folders, documents, envelopes, and mail boxes.

Business users could be given a metaphor desktop, and it was so intuitive, they would only need a few hours training plus the manuals to be able to get started using the desktop.

It was much easier to use than any other software available at the time.

And this remains true today.

Anyone who has worked in a real office can use the Meta5 virtual office with almost no training at all.

You can watch some how two videos, like the ones we are creating, and you can then find your way around Meta5 as it is today.


Metaphor gave the business users the ability to answer his or her own business questions.

For the first time ever, the business user did not need to go to IT and ask IT to build a report for them.

This had been a major goal of computing since the invention of cobol.

Metaphor was the first system where the business users did not need to learn something that looked like a programming language to be able to answer their own questions.

This removed IT from the loop of answering questions.

This was the biggest breakthrough of the metaphor software.

Even today, in 2021, business users still require IT to help them build reports and dashboards far more than they would like.

IT remains a bottleneck for business users getting their urgent and important questions answered.


The unique capsule tool.

Even today, no other company has implemented something so unique and useful as the Metaphor capsule.

Microsoft tried and failed to build a capsule tool for Microsoft Office.

Many companies have copied the unique capsule tool to a greater or lesser extent.

The unique capsule tool allowed the business user to build even very complex applications, in a graphical environment, with no programming skills.

The software also allowed for the packaging and execution of these capsules.

So capsules could be run by product group, or marketing manager, or any combination of any parameters the business users could think of.

The results were delivered via email or by shared drives, or even printed, copied and distributed by paper mail back in the 80s.

The bottom line was that with these three main features, and many more, the best and brightest business analysts could figure out more effective ways of spending the millions and millions of dollars of marketing budgets that were being spent across these massive companies.

In the 80s the companies with Metaphor did better than the companies without metaphor.

In many of those very large companies Metaphor was the difference that made the difference.

So what went wrong?

Why isn’t everyone using Metaphor today if it was that good as long ago as 1989?

Well, in 1989, a fateful event happened.

The CEO of Proctor and Gamble called the CEO of IBM.

In 1989 IBM was the worlds dominant computer company.

To cut the story short IBM liked Metaphor so much they bought the company.

IBM decided to make the product their leading program product in the data analysis area.

In 1989, that obviously sounded like Metaphor had hit the home run out of the park, right?

No one knew that there was about to be a battle for the desktop operating system.

Everyone assumed that the IBM operating system, called OS 2, would become the dominant operating system for personal computers in the business world.

Microsoft was even hired and paid to develop portions of OS 2 in the late 80s.

IBM was about business computers.

And OS 2 was going to be the dominant operating system for the Personal System 2 computers IBM was selling.

Metaphor had it’s own unix like operating system running on 32 bit motorola chips, the same chips used by apple.

IBM set a development path for Metaphor that they would drop the hardware and operating system they sold in favor of IBM personal computers.

The development path included the idea that Metaphor would migrate their software to run on the 32 bit version of OS 2 that IBM had scheduled to release in 1993.

It is now a matter of ancient history that in the 1989 to 1993 period, the relationship between IBM and Microsoft fell apart.

It is also a matter of ancient history that in the 1991 to 1993 period, there was a very deep recession that very badly affected many companies, including IBM.

Investment in capital equipment collapsed, and the IBM main frame computer business was very badly hit.

At the very same time, sales of mid range computers and personal computers were surging.

Microsoft and IBM had a major falling out.

Microsoft stopped working on the new 32 bit operating system IBM was developing.

IBM was confident that with the release of their 32 bit operating system, many years ahead of MicroSoft, they would own the business personal computer operating system market.

IBM was convinced that Microsoft would be relegated to selling spreadsheet software.

That was most certainly the view of IBM in 1991.

But that is not what happened.

IBM’s fortunes waned badly.

Microsoft was easily the big winner of the operating system wars.

Metaphor computer systems, being owned by IBM, was simply a small department in IBM.

They fell to the much bigger issue that IBM lost the operating system war.

The Metaphor software only ran on OS 2.

IBM refused to port it to Windows 95 when it was released.

By 1996 the worlds biggest consumer product manufacturing companies had a choice to make.

Windows 95 with Microsoft Office versus OS 2 with Lotus Smart Suite.

The vast majority chose Windows 95 with MicroSoft Office.

And this is the reason that you have not heard of Metaphor today.

IBM made the decision Metaphor would only run on OS 2.

And OS 2 lost the war with Windows 95.

Because they did not want business users to run two different operating systems just to use Metaphor, most of their big customers chose to go to other data analysis software,

Numerous other products became successful.

These included Hyperion, Cognos, Business Objects, and Micro Strategy among others.

They were the big new B I vendors of the day.

The really interesting thing is that all these tools required a great deal more IT work to be done for the business users to develop reports.

None of the B I vendors of the 90s were able to empower the business users to perform their own data analysis.

Again, IT became the gate keeper and bottle neck to data access in large enterprises.

Towards the end of the 90s, Ralph Kimball publicly lamented, that in the area of Business Intelligence, the world had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with the demise of Metaphor.

In 2000, a company called Relational Data Systems, proposed to IBM that they would port the Metaphor software to Windows 32 bit operating systems.

Since IBM was not able to sell the Metaphor software on the now very dead OS two operating system, IBM agreed that Relational Data Systems could sell a version of Metaphor, that was ported to windows 32 bit operating systems.

And with this deal, the company, Relational Data Systems, was renamed to Meta5.

The next step after Meta four.

And a version of the Ralph Kimball inspired Metaphor software became available on Windows operating systems.

It was named Meta5 as well.

One more portion of the story we want to share with you is this.

In the 80s and 90s, B I Software was expensive, and Metaphor was no exception.

The round number to get 10 workstations installed for the top data analysts in a consumer product based company was 100,000 dollars.

In the 90s the normal minimum price to get a decent data warehouse up and running was around 1 million dollars.

With a starting price around 1 million dollars, B I systems were really only for the large companies.

In those days the customers had to also build their own data warehouses as well.

So a company who wanted to buy Metaphor software had a large investment to make.

Today, virtually all large companies have a data warehouse installed.

Most large companies have selected a B I vendor or two, or maybe more.

Today, you can get the Metaphor software, now called Meta5, for as little as 2 dollars a day for the single user desktop professional edition.


Why would you want Meta5 on your windows desktop?

Two main reasons.


You feel you spend too much of your time building your Excel reports and charts and you would like to reduce that time.

This will save you money and save you frustration.

And that is worth 2 dollars a day easy.


This is by far the more important reason you would want Meta5 on your windows desktop.

With Meta5 and Excel you will be able to perform any data analysis possible with Excel.

You will be able to improve your ability to make decisions in the business areas where you have decision making influence or control.

You will be able to build proposals to your senior management team for them to make the big decisions over the areas of the business where they have decision making control.

In short.

If you have Meta5 and Excel on your windows desktop.

If you have access to all the data resources of your company.

If you have access to the data from many third party data vendors.

You will become the “super star” of data analysis in your company.

If you want to be the “data analysis super star”?

Don’t use the same tools the other business users are using.

Use the tools that will empower you to figure out the issues and opportunities that no other tools available today empower you to do.

This was the vision of Ralph Kimball in 1982.

And Meta5 is the product of that vision in 2021.

With a free 30 day trial, and a 60 dollars per month subscription?

You have nothing to lose and a spectacular reputation in your company to gain.

And since we propose the end results of your analysis are presented in Office 3 6 5?

The final presentation of your proposals will be in the same tools that your senior management team are used to.

So, if I have gotten you curious to see what was the hottest B I product in the world and why?

Please just keep going through our demos and how two videos and see for yourself why Meta5 was everywhere smart decisions were made.

When you are ready?

You can get an evaluation copy of Meta5 from their web site.

Then you can download the demonstrations we have released on the blog post, H D 0 0 0 2, How Do I Install The Microsoft Meta5 Demonstrations.

We would be very happy to help you review the demonstrations and evaluate the Meta5 software.


Thank you very much for listening to or reading our blog post today!

We really appreciate you!

I wish you a good day!

Thank you.

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