Software artists that are topping the charts

Microsoftware designers are a diverse bunch. Some of them liken their work to that of the record industry. A best-selling software package, like a hit tune, can be written by anyone who knows his art, is willing to spend long hours at it , and can find the right distribution channel.

Not every product is a hit. Here are some winners:

Lou Clapp started Software Resources, a Boston company that specializes in financial and stock market analysis software, about two years ago. Their premier product, called the ''Smart System,'' analyzes stock market trends and patterns. Mr. Clapp and his partner now have 25 employees and sales are growing about 40 percent a year.

David Solomont, founder of Business and Professional Software, also has a success story. He, too, was working on an MBA degree when he got the idea of starting a company to design software that tells a microcomputer to draw bar and pie graphs on a screen (computer graphics). His company grew from 12 to 25 employees in 1981.

Mitch Kapor is a psychologist. He's also been a radio disk jockey. He says he got hooked on his little computer and started writing software on it for a living - out of his living room in Boston. He sold two programs to Visicorp of San Jose, Calif., which marketed them under the names Visiplot and Visitrend. From the royalties he was able to hire people for his company, Lotus Development.

Ken Klein is a software ''publisher'' in Marin County, Calif. Independent software authors sell their programs to him to package, market, and distribute. He finds the IBM, Apple, or Sony buyer for his new ''best seller.'' Asked if the recession affected his company very much, Mr. Klein, who now has 26 employees, says jokingly that at one point his partner told him: ''If the recession gets much worse, we'll have to add on more people!'' That is, demand is so great for his products that the company is doing well in spite of difficult economic times.

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