McAfee - The Superhero Who Saved the Computer World
How can one 'crazy' man come up with a revolutionary idea and design the first commercial antivirus software? Well, that man is none other than John McAfee, the controversial computer programmer, businessman, and the founder of McAfee Associates.
John simply saw an opportunity in a time when cyber-security was practically unknown to the public. Right then and there, he dedicated himself to find out how computer viruses attack the operating system and create the opposite - the antivirus!
So how did John McAfee, the man who couldn't keep a job longer than 2 years come up with the idea to solve the newest problem - computer viruses?
Read the story of McAfee here:
Learning the Basics of Computing
John McAfee was born in 1945 in Gloucestershire, UK, to a British mother and an American soldier stationed there. While still in his infancy, he moved to Virginia, US with his parents, where he was raised.
From a young age when he showed a proclivity for entrepreneurship, creating his first business in his early teens - selling magazines from door to door, which made him some fortune. Since then, John went on to gain knowledge and develop his interest in computing. Later on, embarked on a journey that landed him many jobs and eventually sparked the idea to one day design his own software.
Soon after graduating in 1967, John landed a job at a coded system punch-card company. While working there, John showed interest in early computing systems. Not long after, he took the knowledge earned and took it elsewhere. John started his second job in the late 1960s at Missouri Pacific Railroads, where he had the opportunity to work with the new state-of-the-art IBM computer system.
In 1968, John moved to New York and started a career as a programmer for NASA's Institute of Space Studies for the next 2 years. After leaving Nasa, John moved to Silicon Valley and took several jobs in various tech companies. This is where John improved his knowledge in computer software. After landing a job at Univac and Xerox from 1968 to 1970, John started to work on software design and operations.
As 1978 rolled in, John got yet another job, this time at Computer Sciences Corporation. His intention was never to stay in one place, so he moved yet again.
Birth Of McAfee Associates
In the 1980s, John started the job that would eventually change his life forever. While working at Lockheed Corporation, John wanted to create his own antivirus software, when the first computer virus named Brain attacked the personal computers. He was interested in these new harmful programs that can easily infiltrate any PC, and that's where McAfee Antivirus was actually born. As a computer and math genius, John did all the developing work by himself - without any financial backing! He simply analyzed the Brain virus and sat on his personal computer and in a day and a half, he set the foundation of McAfee.
Computers were a relatively new thing in that period, but the virus gave John the opening to create software to fight viruses before someone else did.
And he succeeded!
The first antivirus software was released to the public in 1987, just in time to fight against the new enemy! John operated with McAfee from his home in Delaware and by the end of the 1980s, McAfee Associates was raking in $5 million every year.
John's antivirus software was a breakthrough discovery in the late '80s as it was the first commercial antivirus that was used by some of the biggest corporations at the time, and later by many individuals. At first, the software was free for everyone, and later on, a paid version was released.
Over four million people started using his software within a month, and soon almost half of the Fortune 500 companies bought his antivirus.
Everyone Wants An Antivirus!
As soon as 1992 rolled in, John's antivirus reached its peak popularity thanks to the new virus, Michelangelo. John managed to sell the perfect 'scary' story about the number one virus at the time, saying it can infect up to 5 million computers worldwide. Michelangelo was about to hit on March 6, and everyone rushed to buy protection before that day. And just like that, McAfee's earnings skyrocketed.
The product evolved to be the only antivirus out there, as many corporations were seeking protection against the threat. It was John's software that raised public awareness for antivirus protection. During the Michelangelo virus, McAfee controlled over 67% of the antivirus market.
Just like that, McAfee became the sole antivirus for all big businesses, as they were the first in line to be hit by any virus. John was aware of the opportunity presented with personal computers becoming a thing, so he decided to release the program for individual use, and they had no choice - Buy McAfee or fall to the virus!
Life After McAfee
John McAfee is a creative entrepreneur and like many of them, he didn't settle in one place for all of his career. Soon as McAfee went public in 1992, John wanted to start the next big thing. His product was doing better than ever and investors were interested in growing it. But John wanted none of it and agreed to sell the company.
John resigned from the company in 1994 and two years later sold his shares for around $100 million.
Just in time when the internet was going mainstream, John yet again saw the opening to make another discovery, this time in the instant messaging sphere. That same year John founded Tribal Voice and PowWow, the first-ever platforms for instant messaging. PowWow introduced some innovative concepts such as allowing users to communicate directly to one another with the use of voice chat, shared whiteboards, and even shooting messages to offline users.
Despite releasing another breakthrough product, this is where John failed for the first time, as both platforms failed to gain any popularity.
In 2000, John found his way into Zero Labs, a company that designed firewall software, as both investor and board member.
A couple of years later, he also founded QuorumEX, determined to find a cure for all problems that people face, but that idea crumbled just like Tribal Voice.
Today, John's own company McAfee, LLC is still among the largest companies dedicated to cybersecurity. On the other hand, John himself managed to found other startups and in 2013 he started a new company under the name Future Tense Central. He returned to the thing he loved and was best at - tech security. The new company was designing a highly secured computer network device called D-Central.
Nowadays, John has no intention to return to his own company, as Intel and TSG Capital remain the owners. The company still produces high-quality software under the name of Intel Security and in many PCs, McAfee is an integrated antivirus program.
John's journey was not an easy one, to say the least. Using his natural knowledge in mathematics and the strong will to learn about early computing programs, established the idea behind McAfee. John created something revolutionary before anyone else, and we can all thank him for saving us from the invisible enemy - computer viruses!