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Almost Perfect [Hardcover]

Peter Peterson

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A former executive at the WordPerfect Corporation details the company's rise in the computer industry and what compelled him to leave after ten years as a driving force in the company.

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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Learning When To Delegate Responsibility 10 Dec 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This is a perfect book for those aspiring entrepreneuers on lessons of both starting a company and managing one. Never letting down his guard and sticking by his own way of doing things, Peterson's pivotal point to leave the company came in the midst of too much control for one person to handle. Peterson though was able to handle the decisions for many years to his credit and definately seemed the driving force in providing overall profitability in the company.
5.0 out of 5 stars A little history of WordPerfect 6 Dec 2007
By James Forsyth - Published on Amazon.com
As a long-time WordPerfect user I wanted the opportunity to learn about the history behind one of my favourite computer programs. Perhaps this is more necessary for me than for many in the U.S. because I'm from Australia, which is a little far away from where some of the early action took place.

From that perspective, it's very interesting to read about the evolution of the product through various versions. Of course, the Wikipedia article on WordPerfect has more-or-less the same information, but nothing compares to Peterson's dramatic telling of the to-ing and fro-ing between departments to actually achieve this end.

Unfortunately, this book is no longer in print form. A full text can, however, be found online.

The politics between Alan, Bruce and Pete towards the end, when Pete is forced out of the company, is of interest, but as always there are many sides to the story. The highlight of this book for me was seeing WordPerfect grow.
2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a Perfect History 16 Feb 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
W. E. Peterson joined Word Perfect in 1980 as a part-time office manager, and left as Executive VP of Sales in 1992. He says their success was based partly on luck: the right circumstances at the right time. They depended on their own efforts and finances, not on burning up borrowed money; did this concentrate their efforts on success?
He says "reliability was more important than price" (p.41). A word processor is a means to an end, not an end in itself. A $1500 product can be less costly than a $500 product that breaks down more, once you include the effect of losses.
Page 60 says the demise of word processing departments in the mid 1980s was unexpected. This happened to key-punch departments a decade earlier. Will Internet E-mail reduce the market for word processors in turn?
The problem of printer support in WP was solved by the use of tables; but this resulted in slower printing. Isn't it better to use separate executable modules for each printer family?
One very important item of their success was their evaluation of their product by consulting with the secretaries who used it. This is much better than an ad-hoc committee of non-users.
His evaluation of other companies (p.100) is interesting. Using a "lines of code" rule alone may result in bloated and redundant code, which can lead to higher maintenance, overhead, and support costs.
His story of the "free Hawaii trip" (pp.131-2) illustrates the difference between "goals" and "objectives". A fixed cash bonus is a goal, a Hawaii trip an objective.
In July 1991 Pete was informed that he "was too hard on people and too many people were afraid" of him. He seems to have ignored this warning. The stress of the delayed release may have been affecting a lot of people. If the VP of Development was giving lectures from a book, could this have caused the delay? Does this show a problem in a "flat management" philosophy? Is it correct for any large company? Can reading a book safeguard a company from Microsoft? Note that this clash of personalities did not occur when WP was profitable. "Victory has a thousand fathers", falling sales has a thousand finger pointers.
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