It is a business commonplace that in the early days of an industry, the market teems with competitors, but equally common that their numbers thereafter shrink markedly. Combinations, withdrawals, failures, and acquisitions narrow the field. It has happened some with matter management systems for law departments but not to the dramatic degree that some industries have witnessed.
This pattern was brought to mind by Henry Petroski, Success through Failure: the paradox of design (Princeton 2006) at 26. Petroski notes that 34 companies offered slide projectors in 1979, the year of peak production, but only seven remained in 2000. For another instance, in the period 1978-1982, dozens of companies manufactured and sold early versions of personal computers but now only a few survive.
Matter management vendors have proved resilient. Some, however, have disappeared, such as CompInfo (founded in approximately 1980, ultimately acquired by Hummingbird and then discontinued), Corprasoft (acquired by Datacert a few years ago), INSLAW, TriPoint systems (acquired by Wolters Kluwer in 2005 and combined with TyMetrix), and LawManager (acquired by Bridgeway). There may well be other extinct systems.
Some of these historical players I have blogged about (See my post of April 9, 2006: Equitable teamed up with CompInfo on LawPack; and Sept. 21, 2005: Unysis’ Michael Sambrano started what became TriPoint Systems.).