The Success Story of Charles Wang: Co-founder of Computer Associates

On this day, August 19 in the year 1944, one of the pioneers in the computer software industry was born in Shanghai, China. His name is Charles Wang, the co-founder of Computer Associates (now CA Technologies).

Charles Wang
Charles Wang (Credit: wsj.com)

Charles Wang was the son of a high-ranking judge in China. When he was one year old, the family moved to New York with the three sons in tow to escape communist persecution. His father became a prominent law professor at St. John’s University. His mother found work as a librarian. Although young Charles was an underachiever in primary and secondary schools, he received a degree in mathematics from Queens College in 1966. After college, he worked as computer programmer at Columbia University although he had no experience in programming before.

In 1976, Charles Wang set up Computer Associates (CA) together with Russell Artzt. The company was a pioneer in selling software for IBM mainframes. Later, it bought a Swiss company that developed a program called Sort. In the succeeding years, CA grew by leaps and bounds by acquiring several companies and by the end of the 1980s, it was one of the biggest independent software vendors.

In 2000, Charles quit as CEO amidst investigation that the company was involved in securities fraud. At that time, he was the highest paid CEO in America. In 2002, he resigned as chairman of the board.

Charles became the owner of the New York Islanders hockey franchise starting in 2000, spending $130 million to acquire it. He remained the majority owner until 2016 when he sold the franchise for $485 million.

Charles is married with 3 children. He is now busy with his philanthropic activities particularly with Smile Train, a foundation he organized to provide corrective surgery to children with cleft lips and palates. He had previously donated a large amount to build the Wang Center at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and also the building of the Charles Wang Community Health Center, also in New York.

References
http://www.nytimes.com/1997/02/04/nyregion/facing-rough-times-charles-wang-tries-a-new-style.html
http://goldsea.com/Air/Issues/WangC/wangc.html
https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikeozanian/2014/10/17/charles-wang-actually-got-485-million-for-the-new-york-islanders/#6b1a4eaa1fa9

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