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Not to be confused with Clarus, the dogcow.
Claris 2019 logo

New logo of Claris International, re-established in 2019.

Claris International Inc. is a software company that was spun-off from Apple Computer in 1987. They were given the code and publishing rights to several programs that had been developed within Apple, notably MacWrite and MacPaint, in order to separate Apple's software and hardware divisions. Over the years the company was pushed and pulled in different directions, at one point divesting themselves of all of their products but one to become FileMaker Inc., and more recently reverting back to their identity as Claris.[1]


During the early days of the Macintosh computer, Apple shipped the machines with two basic programs, MacWrite and MacPaint, so that users would have a working machine "out of the box". However this resulted in complaints from third party developers, who felt that these programs were good enough for so many users that there was little reason to buy something better. Apple decided to allow the programs to "wither", so that the third party developers would have a market to sell it.

Unfortunately, this never really happened, and it was some time before truly capable replacements came along. In the meantime users complained about the lack of upgrades, while developers complained about any possibility of an upgrade.

Claris simply powerful software

(original logo and slogan)

Eventually Apple decided the only solution was to spin off the products to a third party of their own creation, forming Claris in 1987. Claris was also given the rights to several less well-known Apple products such as MacProject, MacDraw and MacWorks. In 1988 Claris purchased Nashoba Systems to gain access to their product, FileMaker. After a number of upgrades they re-launched it into the market as FileMaker II, and had their first major "hit".

Claris was also home to the first Mac OS on IBM PC class machines effort code named Star Trek taking the Mac OS is boldly going where it had never gone before.

Claris, in an attempt to break away from the perception as a Mac software in 1992 they bought and released a Windows only product called Hollywood which was a presentation package that never came over to the Mac. The last version, Claris Hollywood 1.0 v2, presentation software for Windows was price at $499

At first Claris seemed to have the same problems as Apple with the products. Upgrades were trivial, limited to simply making the program continue to run on newer versions of the Mac OS. However in the later 1980s they started a major upgrade effort, including a more modern and common user interface across the products, based on FileMaker. The result was the "pro" series, MacProject Pro, MacDraw Pro, MacWrite Pro and FileMaker Pro. In order to provide a complete office suite they also purchased the rights to the Informix Wingz spreadsheet on the Mac, re-branding it as Claris Resolve, and added the new presentation program ClarisImpact.

The series was release piecemeal over a period of about two years, during which period Microsoft had basically taken over the majority of the market with Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel. While the packages were arguably much more "approachable" the first versions lacked some features of the now more mature MS suite, leaving them lacking in "checkbox features". Their value was further eroded by aggressive bundling deals from Microsoft that could allow Word, Excel and PowerPoint to be purchased for a cost not much higher than MacWrite alone, a bundle that Claris did not match. Claris did offer ClarisWorks, an all-in-one package, and while the price was right it was very limited and could not compete in the business market.

Claris also formed a brand called "Claris Clear Choice" made up of small niche applications ( examples:Retriever, Amazing Animation) from small developers that otherwise may not get the attention and shelf space needed to be successful. This effort failed as the titles failed to grow and the growth of the shareware concept over the internet grew.

Claris also toyed with an entry into the business financial market, covered by such products as Quickbooks, with a product code named "Tavarua" named after some tropical island. It was killed after development had been approved and early demo alpha versions created.

About this time Apple upper management decided that all software should be released through Claris, forcing them to take on HyperCard and the distribution of the Mac OS itself. This proved to be a disaster; the OS was soon returned to Apple, and HyperCard was destroyed in the process.

In 1995 Claris purchased and released Claris Home Page, considered by many to be the best web site creation package on the market. It was perhaps the only truly GUI-based what-you-see-is-what-you-get HTML editor, with all of the other products then available either being glorified text editors or placing tags in the editor that made it non-WYSIWYG. Other products added to the line included Claris Emailer and Claris Organizer. These products were part of a new effort to diversify Claris and no longer chase the "office" market, which by this point was considered a lost cause.

At this time, the main ClarisWorks development team left the company, disillusioned with the product and the target market, and founded Gobe Software, who produced a Claris-like office suite for the then-new BeOS.

It was around this time that the management decided that FileMaker was the only product worth keeping, and put all of the rest of the products on indefinite hold—no changes were made to them at all, not even to keep them working on newer versions of the Mac OS. By 1997 the transition was complete and the company renamed itself as FileMaker Inc., and their only other major product, ClarisWorks, was sold back to Apple to become AppleWorks. Development of MacDraw ended with a final update in 1997, released as ClarisDraw 1.0v4.

The rise and fall of Claris was seen by many as indicative of problems at that time within Apple as a whole. Unable to understand the marketplace, products were allowed to languish. When management finally realized they were sitting on what could be a goldmine, they started an upgrade series that resulted in products making it to market too late to be interesting any longer.

After 21 years as FileMaker Inc., the company once again changed its name back to Claris in 2019.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Apple subsidiary FileMaker Inc. changes its name (back) to Claris by Frederic Lardinois, TechCrunch. 2019-08-06.

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