A magazine article from 1986 inspired a young Marine

How ZilchWorks Got Started

In the Summer of 1986 a friend of mine showed me a magazine article on "How to quickly pay off debts". He knew I had a computer (Tandy 1000 SX) and asked me to help him build a payment plan just like the one described in the magazine. I used a spreadsheet program to calculate how to pay off all twenty-one of his debts. It took over 5 hours to manually figure it out. I remember thinking this was a good idea but not worth that much time.

So, I spent the next three months designing a computer program that would duplicate the results obtained with the manual spreadsheet method. The program was very crude but it worked. At this point it didn't have a name I just referred to it as the "payoff program".

I showed this program to a few friends and they weren't very impressed. So, I copied it to a floppy disk and tossed it in a drawer. It sat there for about 3 years until one day I was looking for a programming project. I decided to create a more sophisticated version of that old "payoff program". My hope was I could sell it to people who needed help getting out of debt.

I spent an entire year of evenings and weekends creating the first retail version of that program. In 1990, I began marketing my software known as "Zilch" through various shareware vendors. Other well-known shareware authors told me not to expect any sales for at least six months to a year. Imagine my surprise when two months later I received my first order from Gifford Wherry of Kennewick, WA. I haven't looked back since.

Reducing Debt to 'Zilch' article Military LifeStye December 1994

( Reducing Debt to Zilch - Military Lyfestyle December 1994)

Michael Riley

Michael Riley

Since 1991 I've been helping people just like you change their lives one debt at a time. Debt is a really difficult topic to talk about. Just the mention or thought of debt can stir up all kinds of emmotions.

Geting out of debt is a hard, difficult climb. A climb you can make. I will show you how to make that climb in the fastest way possible. I will show you how to beat the credit card companies at their own game. So, roll up your sleeves, strap on your pack, and lets get going.

Testimonial scroll

❝Shortly after I started using Zilch I was eligible to buy a house❞

I was looking through my cancelled checks to shred old records and found a check to you for Zilch written on 10/3/1999 for $34.00. Money well spent.

Thank you. Your program accelerated my debt reduction. Shortly after I started using Zilch I was eligible to buy a house and have almost never carried a balance into the next month.

Thanks again.

Rodney Nibbe - Minnesota