The History of Accounting Software for Small Businesses

Grab yourself a cup of tea or a coffee, folks. The history of accounting software is below, including MYOB’s move to Australia and the introduction of cloud-based software.

Grab yourself a cup of tea or a coffee, folks. The history of accounting software is below.


The beginning

In the mid 90s, we had a heap of DOS-based software. It was terribly designed and very difficult to use. You needed a real boffin or a poindexter to run it.

Eventually, things started to change. The price of PCs started to drop and Windows came around to compete with Macs.

Bringing MYOB to Australia

MYOB started as a tiny company in America. It was designed and built specifically as a Graphic User Interface ( GUI ) piece of software which meant built for Mac/Windows. A couple of Australian lads noticed how advanced it was for accounting software and decided to head over to the U.S. and check it out. One of the boys, Craig Winkler, was a local lad from Blackburn. The other, Brad Shofer, was from Sydney.

They saw it and immediately agreed that MYOB was a game-changer. Hence, they brought the software back to Australia and put it into all of the new PCs that were coming out with Windows.

It was a winner among small business people, bookkeepers and accountants and quickly stole the market. I would estimate it took 70% of this huge market in Australia.

Craig and Brad did it so well in Australia they ended up buying the U.S. company and then growing it into a public company here in Blackburn.

What about QuickBooks?

QuickBooks was another piece of software that was the only real competitor of MYOB and it took up most of the remaining 30% of the market. Quickbooks was in some ways easier to use but the bane of us clunky Accountants because too many figures would move compared to the rock solid debit/credit system of MYOB.

However with both QuickBooks and MYOB, tax accountants across the country were able to deal with and organise their client’s accounting information so much easier and the transfer to a tax return was also far easier.

The introduction of cloud based software

A few years ago when cloud-based software was introduced, everything turned on its head. Craig, then the CEO of MYOB, tried very hard to get MYOB into the cloud. He knew it was the way of the future But, he was being restricted a lot by the directors of MYOB at the time.

Craig eventually cashed in his MYOB shares to Private Equity and he walked out the front door and dumped millions into Xero.

Switching to Xero

Xero is software designed and built in New Zealand specifically for the cloud with automatic bank feeds. The fact that the software, like MYOB in the 1990s, was purpose built for the modern IT platform meant they constructed with a clear vision unconstrained by historical influences. The company has skyrocketed in popularity.

Xero is great because it only has one version, whereas the old MYOB had multiple versions of the same software. Having just one version makes it efficient and simple. Accountants are using exactly the same software as their bookkeepers and clients. The other benefit of cloud based Xero is that everything is done in live time. Accountants can get into the software and make changes, and bookkeepers/clients immediately know what is going on.


If you want to know what the Tax Champion recommends as the best current software for accountants, read here.

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We are pleased to share that the team at Phillip Anthony Partners have merged with Paris Financial. Our team at Paris Financial can provide you with a large range of quality financial services with over 65 people located across two convenient locations in Blackburn and East Melbourne.

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