In 1978, the hit song was “Stayin’ Alive,” “Grease” and “Superman” were the top movies at the box office, and bell-bottoms and platform shoes were all the rage. It was also the year that Ashton Kutcher, Kobe Bryant and Computers Unlimited were born.
And, even though a postage stamp no longer costs $.15 and a gallon of gas for $.63 is a thing of the past, Computers Unlimited’s philosophy remains the same. We believe in trust, experience and innovation. We believe in our people—and that their dedication is unmatched. We know that one size does not fit all. So, our unwavering commitment to creating highly flexible, scalable and integrated software remains a fundamental focus today.
From our humble beginnings, there have been many milestones and accomplishments along the way and valued customer relationships have been built that have spanned decades, states and countries. And, as Computers Unlimited celebrates 40 years of success, we embrace the possibilities the future brings. It’s only the beginning.
In 1978, the same year Bill Gates founded Microsoft in Seattle, Washington, Michael Schaer and former partner, Stan Hoggatt, founded Computers Unlimited (CU) in Billings, Montana. The company developed and marketed software and hardware solutions to local businesses that focused on general accounting and
inventory. One of CU’s first customers was a gas and welding distributor with whom they had a prior working relationship. Gas and welding distributors soon became a key part of their business.
A new partnership between Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and CU began, allowing CU to offer a total computer solution to their customers.
Computers Unlimited began to establish a nationwide customer base and solidified its commitment to the gas and welding industry by joining the National Welding Supply Association, now GAWDA.
In 1982, Computers Unlimited began pursuing the nationwide market of welding supply distributors.
In 1983, Airco Welding Products, a division of the BOC group (British Oxygen Company), became Computers Unlimited's largest customer.
CU quickly gained a first class reputation for providing state-of-the-art technology and soon became the largest supplier of system software for the industry.
CU hosts their first Users Group Conference in Big Sky, Montana, in March of 1984.
In 1985, the Computers Unlimited team of 17 employees paused for a group photo.
In 1986, Whitmore Oxygen of Salt Lake City, Utah, became Computers Unlimited's first customer with third
party billing needs as they provided medical oxygen to patients in their homes. The development of a medical billing package began to serve another, yet larger, market — Home Medical Equipment (HME) suppliers.
Computers Unlimited began actively marketing to the HME industry in 1991.
CU acquired a software company called DataSoft on September 16, 1993, with a software program called Monarc. Monarc was an IV Therapy and Oral Medications software package. It was eventually merged into TIMS Software in 2001.
In 1993, Computers Unlimited became a member of The MED Group, a purchasing group that helps HME providers keep purchasing costs low for medical equipment, healthcare and technology, in addition to increasing patient referrals for those HME providers.
Computers Unlimited was no stranger to custom programming requests, and the CU team has always done its best to help customers operate as effectively and efficiently as possible. So when a distributor in Mexico needed the TIMS Software in Spanish, Schaer’s team didn't hesitate to take on the translation and deliver the specialized product. TIMS Spanish began late December of 1993 for Linde de Mexico and the CU team saw Linde de Mexico go live on TIMS (Spanish Version 2.2) in 1995.
CU received a request from a company in Canada who needed the software in French to comply with Quebec’s stringent laws on bilingual access. CU began writing TIMS (Version 2.2) in French during December of 1993 for Praxair Canada.
CU acquires National Software Company (NSC) with a software program called WISDM (Welding Information System for Distribution Management), and along with it, 47 additional companies that had been operating on WISDM. This acquisition increased CU’s market share in the gas and welding industry and allowed a larger base of welding supply distributors to be served.
The completely renovated Eagle Hotel building in historic downtown Billings became a much-needed addition for CU employees. By 1994, the CU staff had grown to 152.
David Schaer came to work for Computers Unlimited in 1995 as a salesperson, learning the business from the ground up.
Computers Unlimited was an Internet Service Provider from 1995 - 2014. A division of the company, Internet Montana, provided Internet service to customers across the state of Montana.
The Billings Train Depot, located across the street from CU’s corporate headquarters on Montana Avenue, served as the backdrop for our company photo in 1999.
In 2001, TIMS Software moved to a Microsoft Windows Server and SQL Server based platform — the result of four years of development.
In November of 2002, CU acquired a successful and established audiology software company called Online Claims, which was created in 1995.
Known today as TIMS Audiology, they provide a complete EHR and business management system for the hearing industry worldwide.
The company achieved Microsoft Gold Certified Partner status — the highest level of competence and expertise with Microsoft technologies.
In March of 2009, Computers Unlimited brings on its first hosting customer as it begins to offer a cloud-based TIMS hosting solution as an alternative to the existing on-premise TIMS solution.
In April of 2009, David Schaer is appointed as president of CU. Schaer has been with the company since 1995, holding positions in sales and new technology development management.
Dr. Michael Schaer is recognized with one of a handful of 2012 Montana Historic Preservation Excellence Awards for decades of revitalization efforts along Montana Avenue.
In October of 2012, Michael Schaer is awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Billings Chamber of Commerce.
This prestigious award identifies one stand-out individual within the community for extraordinary achievements in the Billings area.
In the Fall of 2012, David Schaer gives back to the community with support for the new Parmly Billings Library and the addition of its newly planned technology center.
In February of 2013, Computers Unlimited celebrated 35 years of success!
In 2016, CU launched its first wave of cross platform mobility applications. The new mobile applications run on IOS and Android devices, leverage the power of Microsoft Azure, and connect with TIMS using standard RESTful API interfaces for a seamless experience.
On February 6th, 2018, we celebrate our 40 Year Anniversary. We want to thank all of our past and current employees for their time, effort and dedication. Without you, this milestone would not have been possible.