Frank McNamara Jr. '69 did not come close to unseating House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) in November's congressional elections, but two Harvard undergraduates are hoping that a computer innovation they developed for the abortive campaign will have a much brighter future.
McNamara's Campus Coordinator Dan A. Frahm '83 and his partner Jon L. Mosle '83 have designed a computer program called CAMPAIGN which may revolutionize small campaigns by allowing candidates to keep more accurate staff records.
The program can keep track of hundreds of volunteers, ranking them by dedication and reliability. In addition, CAMPAIGN can alphabetize lists and send out press releases, memos, and thank-you notes.
Frahm and Mosle are preparing the software for computers that cost between $2000 and $3000. The program would sell for between $180 and $300.
In that price range, CAMPAIGN will be available to smaller candidates with tighter budgets, who have not yet benefitted from the national personal computer boom.
"There's very little [software] available, and the market is very large; it's really going to boom, too," said Stanley F. Reed, publisher of Campaigns and Elections, a national political journal which recently featured an article on the undergraduates' innovation.
Reed explained that the programs currently available are prepared for large computers that most candidates cannot afford. He estimated that there are 100,000 campaigns every four years which spend enough to use CAMPAIGN.
Frahm and Mosle plan either to sell the program to an established company or to try to market it themselves. John D. Brady '78 of Brady and Associates, a well-known political consulting firm, has expressed interest in purchasing the software and offered Frahm a job at his Houston headquarters.
"I think we may make more money on our own, but it's definitely a big risk," said Frahm yesterday.
Although McNamara faced an almost insurmountable task in challenging the popular U.S. representative from North Cambridge, CAMPAIGN allowed Frahm to organize the college volunteers most effectively.
Frahm said that once during the campaign, McNamara's camp learned that O'Neill would be speaking at a local country club, and he quickly called up the names of his candidate's most dedicated workers to demonstrate for McNamara outside the club.
If they decide to sell the program themselves, Frahm and Mosle intend to be selective about who can buy it. Frahm explained that he and Mosle are both conservative Republicans.
"There's no reason to just sell to anyone," he said. "We are thinking about just selling it to Republicans."