Abtrac at 25: A look back at our history
As we celebrate our birthday, here’s a look back at how our project tracking software has evolved over the past 25 years — and how that same drive to provide better business tools continues to propel the team at Abtrac today.
We're looking forward to even greater innovation over the next quarter century.
When Abtrac launched in 1999, our ambition was to share what we'd learned in our own professionals services firm, and help others to better management their business — and that’s still true today.
For our 25th birthday, we’re taking a look at the history of Abtrac to reflect on our origins and see how far we’ve come.
Embracing the technology boom of the 90's
In 1990 Above Board Computer Consulting was established by Edward O’Leary.
With a background as an IT consultant at Ernst & Young, Edward specialised in the application of technology solutions for senior management in large corporates and SME‘s.
Embracing the technology boom of the 90’s, our specialty then was building tailored database solutions. We provided business consulting, technology solutions and training. And we played Solitaire on Windows 3.0!
The launch of Abtrac : One of the greats from 1999
Increasingly at Above Board we were asked by other professionals for a system to track and bill jobs.
By 1996 we were sharing what we used in-house, and creating custom time based billing systems for business colleagues.
By 1999 we’d streamlined those solutions into a desktop system called Abtrac. It was built on an Access database.
Our first logo had to look good on a fax, as well as online
It was designed to represent a clock - for tracking time, managing time, and recovering time with better invoicing. The concentric circles were also nod to the comprehensive features of the software. We wanted what you could do with Abtrac to have a flow on effect across all areas of your business. Better management - through software.
Where did the name come from?
The "A "+ "b" were from Above Board and the "trac" was a very cool late nineties version of Track. In fact Abtrack started with a k, but it didn't last long.
Our product was " A Contact and Client Management, Time and Cost, Invoicing and Debtor Management System". in fact, it still is.
But by 1999 we were starting to sent phone text messages - as well as faxes! Ed and the team all had the Nokia 8810 and it was awesome. The SMS limit was 160 characters, so we shortened everything - including the name of our new time tracking, project tracking and billing software.
Some of the earliest adopters of Abtrac are still using it today
Shout out to Cato Bolam, Lamb & Associates, Morice Advisors, Airey Consultants and Thorburn Consultants - we love you guys!
These five companies, and many others who signed on between 1999 - 2001 helped us shape Abtrac into a tool specifically for consulting professionals.
Abtrac is a perfect fit for firms who provide consulting engineering, land surveying, project management, town planning, cost estimation, and architectural design.
We've spent 25 years listening to what you need to manage your business and evolving Abtrac to suit how you work.
What else happened in 1999?
We kept good company...in 1999 at lot was happening.
- Fatboy Slim's music single "Praise You" hit #1 in the UK in January
- The Intel Pentium III 500 MHz was released in February
- The Matrix, a popular sci-fi movie, was released in March
- Microsoft acquired Access software in April
- Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was released on May
- Napster, the peer-to-peer file sharing application was launched in June
- Spongebob premiered in July
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone reached the top of the New York Times list of best-selling fiction in August 1999
- Serena Williams wins her first Grand Slam title at the US Open in September
- In October the global population reach 6 billion people
- Australia voted to keep the Queen and against becoming a republic in November
- New Zealand voted for Helen Cark, who became the first elected female Prime Minister in December
- Y2K turned out to be all ok.
How has Abtrac evolved from the very first version ?
The interest in Abtrac grew exponentially, and by 2004 we’d expanded our client base from New Zealand into Australia.
In the five years since inception, we’d worked hard to become as familiar as possible with the working environment of each and every business using Abtrac and the people within it.
By now Abtrac had gone through a few technology upgrades. We’d moved to a SQL Server database and were already integrating with other platforms.
In 2006 Abtrac was still a desktop application, but we were getting ready for change. Abtrac 3.0 came with an optional Web based add-on for timesheets.
We’d learnt a lot from our initial web based offerings, and by 2013 we were confident in delivering a cloud based system that retained all the functionality of the desktop version.
Rather than converting the desktop version and bolting-on a cloud option, we rebuilt Abtrac as a complete online platform using Microsoft Azure.
Today Abtrac is a mature online product. Our ideals haven’t changed much since 1999 we still see ourselves as not just software providers, but consultants and advisors as well.
We’re still excited to embrace new technologies, and committed to continuous development and product enhancement.
You can learn more about us and our history here.
The Abtrac team are writers, designers, engineers, consultants and analysts. Together we dream, build and deliver an amazing software solution for professional services.