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Celebrating 40 years!



In December 1981 Masterbill Micro Systems Ltd. was officially opened for business. For some time a small team from the Chartered Quantity Surveying practice V.B.Johnson & Partners had been researching and developing the first BQ Production system for micro computers and now it was ready to be demonstrated and sold to any forward thinking Quantity Surveyors who expressed an interest.


A lot has changed since 1981, so as we celebrate our 40th Birthday we thought it would be good to invite you to join us on a trip down Memory Lane and invite our customers to join our celebration with a special offer!


9 Areas Where We Have Seen Massive Changes

(Tip: you can click on an image to see a larger version)


1. Masterbill Logos

The first thing we noticed as we looked back over the years is how much our logos have changed. Not only has the font changed but the various graphical elements have changed too. From a hand-drawn QS figure to a Laxton's montage, there was even a comic strip produced for one of our early adverts.


2. Computers

In 1981

In 2021

Personal or Micro computers were the latest available technology with companies like Commodore, IBM, Olivetti and Sinclair all trying to produce a reasonably priced computer that could fit on a desk.

Computers were primarily Standalone and included a monochrome screen, a keyboard and either a tape or floppy disk drive and would have been connected to a dot matrix printer.

Most of our early customers would have just one computer in order to use Masterbill.

Computers are much more powerful and much smaller and each member of staff will have at least one dedicated to their use. Laptops are commonplace, the keyboard remains but is now accompanied by a mouse or touchpad and the one or more monitors are large, high definition and slimline.

The dot matrix printer has been replaced by superfast high quality printers or multifunction machines with more dots per inch (dpi) than you would wish to count.

3. Software

In 1981

In 2021

The term "Graphical User Interface" didn't exist and we don't have any screenshots of our first systems.

Data was coded and normally input by one specific user who had been specially trained.

As the technology developed and MS-DOS, and much later Windows, were released so the software became much more user-friendly and accessible to all members of staff.

All our software has a Graphical User Interface which is constantly being updated and improved as we develop our software and as Microsoft keep updating Windows.

Our software is commonly used to view and measure from drawings and 3D models and even allows multiple users to view and work on the same drawing/model at the same time even if they are not in the same office or even on the same continent.

4. Measurement


In 1981

In 2021

All measurements were carried out by hand using paper-based drawings and a scale rule, dimensions were then recorded and calculated on specially produced 'dim paper'.

Masterbill users referred to a printed Library of Descriptions and 'coded' their measurements ready for entry into the computer.

In the early years Masterbill even produced and supplied customers with reams of our own specially produced dim paper.

We are now working towards the paperless office with users measur​ing direct from digital drawings or models on screen and linking them to our Library of Descriptions without the need for codes or special paper.

As a result users are able to enjoy a full audit trail and can access their measurements from almost anywhere via an Internet connection.

5. Software Protection


In 1981

In 2021

For most of the last 40 years Masterbill have relied on a physical dongle to protect our software from being illegally copied and distributed.

Dongles of all shapes, sizes and colours have been used to plug in to various ports to enable users to access the software.

Masterbill are now able to offer 'dongle-free' versions of all our current software, with protection now dependant upon encrypted software keys with PCs and users registered as part of the installation process.

The opportunity to move away from the reliance on a physical dongle has been welcomed by many of our customers and their IT departments.

6. Demonstrations



In 1981

In 2021

Demonstrating Masterbill software to a potential customer often included hours of travel by road and lugging computers, monitors and even printers from the car and up several flights of stairs.

David Windsor (our first Managing Director) often recalled that all demos were timed to span lunch. All the data input features were demonstrated, and the system asked to generate the BQ, prior to lunch, and then by the time lunch was completed - to the amazement of the potential customer - the BQ would be ready!

Very few demos have involved any travel whatsoever in the last couple of years​. The latest web-conferencing software has enabled us to present our software online to potential customers almost anywhere in country or even the world, from the comfort of our office or even our homes.

We have even hosted a series of Webinars with over 100 attendees spread across the globe without leaving our office.

With the software now available to generate a BQ in seconds there is no longer any need for extensive travel or extended lunches.

7. Training



​​In 1981

In 2021

Training involved numerous folders containing Printed Libraries, Printed Manuals and Printed Training materials.

Users were introduced to Masterbill coding, dimsheets and batch control.

Each training session involved one or more of Masterbill's staff attending the customers office and would often be spread over several days.

Users who missed the Training were often taught 'the basics' by a colleague which resulted in many of the more powerful features being neglected through lack of training.

Training now involves very little printed material.

Users are sometimes introduced to the system by Masterbill staff conducting one or more 'In Person, Online' training sessions using Microsoft Teams, but the majority of training is now carried out by via the Masterbill Academy.

The Masterbill Academy enables users to access Comprehensive Training Courses and Masterclasses which are broken down into bite-sized video-based lessons that can be undertaken by individuals at their chosen time and pace. Lessons are interspersed with Quizzes to enable uses to test their knowledge and ensure that they have understood the content.

The Academy keeps a record of the progress of each individual and even provides a certificate upon completion.

All Training Courses undertaken are fully documented and indexed enabling users to return and review any part of the training course again and again as they use the software.

8. Data Storage



​​​In 1981

​​In 2021

Floppy disks that stored several kilobytes of data seemed amazing.

Computers had no hard drives and were booted from one floppy disk and the software then loaded from another disk and finally the data was stored on yet another disk. All worked well until a floppy disk was lost or damaged!

Data storage is now talked about in megabytes, gigibytes and terabytes.

Computers contain high capacity hard disk or solid state drives capable of storing hundreds of gigabytes of data.

Data storage is often centralised on a network server capable of storing terabytes of data, and we can even access online or 'cloud' storage which is virtually unlimited and accessible from anywhere.

9. Customers



​​​In 1981

​​In 2021

​The only people interested in Masterbill software were Chartered Quantity Surveyors who no longer wanted to spend hours measuring, calculating, checking, describing, typing, reading over, and printing Bills of Quantities to enable their clients to tender their Construction Projects.

Masterbill software is used by, and delivers benefits to, those carrying out numerous professional roles in numerous types of organisations and businesses across the world.

From sole practitioners, to SMEs, to local and central governments, to large multinationals.

Celebrate with us using this Special 40th Birthday Offer


To celebrate our 40th birthday we are offering a massive...

of all Masterbill Academy Training Courses or Masterclasses ordered during the month of December 2021.


There are already a good number of Courses and Masterclasses available and more in the pipeline for 2022 so why not take a look and make the most of our birthday!


Contact sales@masterbill.com to request a quote now

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