There is usually a long story behind a successful product. This applies for Merlin and my first visions about it in 2003.
Was Merlin a project manager? (part four)
The product name Merlin was defined even before the first code line was written. We were ProjectWizards; our software simply had to bear a name of a magician. We have many names from the Arthurian legend in use, so the decision was not very far-fetched.
Exactly like the legendary figure Merlin, Arthur’s magician advisor, should our Merlin be a wizard and advisor for project management. There was no necessity in finding a good name considering marketing aspects. Merlin was meant to be sold only to selected partners. Pretty naive…
Frank Illenberger and I held our first kick-off-meeting on April 9th 2004 in Frankfurt. We had talked about the concept, answered questions and mentioned ideas. Frank intended to work two days per week on programming Merlin. We defined a vague target date, as none of us had ever worked on a similar project. At that time Frank had experience on only small programs. Have I mentioned how naive we both were?
Anyway, thanks to Frank’s analytical and meticulous way of working, Merlin’s development took form really quickly. Small and major crises got handled as they appeared.
July 2004 was a watershed event. Apple sent me an invitation to the Apple Expo in Paris. I should present Merlin. Fine, I thought, I would be delighted, but how did Apple come to know about Merlin’s existence? Our Merlin project team had grown meanwhile to 20 persons. Some more involved than others. All of them had signed an NDA but one of them had definitely “blabbed”.
So I flew to Paris to hold a Merlin presentation. Michel Suter greeted me with “I have no more than 20 minutes time”. I started my well-prepared presentation. Michel interrupted me after ten minutes and asked with enthusiasm for the scheduled release date. I tried to explain that we are not planning to release Merlin. His reaction was pretty direct: “I would deserve to get beaten if I would not make such a great program available to all Mac users”. Okay, the message was clear enough. During my flight back to Germany I setup a business plan. The decision was taken: Merlin should be available for the public. The rest, as they say, is history… I do not regret my decision, not for a moment.
Merlin 1.0 was released on November 9th 2004. It was the starting point of the currently most successful project management software. So it seems, we managed to do more things the right way than wrong.