• Jan 1, 1937
    (b.) -
    May 16, 2016
    (d.)

Bio/Description

From the Petworth neighborhood of Washington D.C., he graduated in 1959 from University of Maryland with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He began working at Philco in Philadelphia in the spring of 1959 as a Tech-Rep for the computer division, specifically the product test department. The plant was located in the old Atwater Kent radio manufacturing facility (which produced radios in the 1920s). He was part of a team whose job it was to debug the Philco mainframe systems after they had been built in manufacturing. There was no actual manufacturing at the time as the first model (the Philco Transac S2000 model 210) was still being designed and prototyped. After about three months he was assigned to a machine used to test printed circuit boards for the Input Output Processor (IOP) component of the system. He would plug each board in, use the machine to generate electronic input pulses, and use an oscilloscope on the output pins to verify if the required output was produced by the board. The Philco Transac S2000 model 210/211/212 was the first ever large scale all transistorized computer in the world and outclassed the IBM competition of the day - the 7090/7094. It had a ten micro second main memory, 90KC 1 inch tape drives, a 2000 card per minute card reader, and a 900 line per minute printer. The CPU was asynchronous, not driven by a clock, which meant that progression to the next cycle would happen when all the work was done, rather than have to wait for the next clock pulse to appear. The comparable specs for the 7090 paled in comparison. The model 211 added a two micro second memory, and the 212 redesigned the CPU for even faster performance. A few months later, the first full model 210 system arrived, and he was assigned to debug the IOP component. About that time the Philco Computer Division opened its new facilities in Willow Grove, north of Philadelphia. The first installation was at Philco's western development lab on Fabian way in Palo Alto, California. He was selected to join the twelve-man installation team led by Steve Zemko. They left Philadelphia in February, 1960. Among the first Philco installations was the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) headquarters outside Tel Aviv Israel. Philco could not get the system accepted and it was costing $1000 per day in penalties. He was sent on December 31, 1961 to resolve the situation after several other attempts had failed. He was the first to actually work hard at getting the job done. He went third shift through the whole process and succeeded. After he returned home, he ultimately became an "Engineer from the home office" sent out to bail out troubled installations when the local support team didn't know what to do. He never failed. At an installation at United Aircraft, he noticed a pair of IBM 7090s and asked where the IBM support team was. "They show up every Thursday morning for their maintenance" was the reply! Philco had two guys per shift and a guy in charge at every installation! He knew they were in trouble since their asynchronous CPU was difficult to keep reliable because of "race conditions", the 90KC tape drives got too many errors, the 2000 card per minute card reader couldn't get through 2000 cards without a jam, the 900 line per minute printer printed wavy lines, and the paper wouldn't stack right at that speed. The 7090, though slower on paper, had none of these problems. Also, Philco only had six world-wide salesmen and IBM had 100s, if not 1000s. In 1961, he moved back to D.C. to become an Engineer in Charge of a Philco installation at the Defense Communication Agency (DCA). In 1962, he moved back to Philadelphia to become the official "Engineer from the home office". He then became interested in programming and transferred to the Philco software development department. Late in 1962, Philco was purchased by Ford, the computer division was shut down, and the engineers transferred to Ford's Tech-Rep division. He, along with about 9 others left and formed a support department for ITT's new computer system product. The system was called the ADX 7300 and was built on a DEC PDP-1 with message switching software developed by the ITT Computer Division. DEC started in Maynard, Massachusetts as a company producing printed circuit boards. In the early 1960s it was decided it might be profitable to build and sell computers using these circuit boards. The PDP-1, PDP-5, PDP-8, PDP-11, etc., fueled the mini-computer era. ITT contracted with DEC for the PDP-1 and designed and built a message switching application for telecom organizations. He was sent to the US Embassy on the Place Concorde in Paris for installation, but it incurred an intermittent failure after many hours of running. He realized it was caused by an application software failure and told ITT that he needed the application's key designer. He was sent over and quickly found and fixed the software problem. After a year the division was shut down and he and the team were transferred to ITT's Tech-Rep division and he began looking for another job. His head hunter said that IBM wanted to talk to him, but he had to wait due to a commitment to get an ITT system through a 30 day acceptance in the hole at Offutt Air Force base in Omaha. The contract required a support team of seven guys be on site with top secret clearance during the acceptance test. Since he was the only Computer guy with top secret clearance, they took six radar technicians, put them through two weeks of classes and sent the seven of them out. Besides seeing that the test progressed successfully, he started reading manuals from the IBM 7090 installed in the hole. The test was going fine until some contract problem stopped it after about three weeks. He resigned from ITT in 1963 and at age 26 he began working at IBM Systems Development Division (SDD) He joined what at the time was called the IBM NPL Operating System development group in April 1963, one full year before the announcement of the System/360, and four years before the multiprogramming version (MVT) was initially delivered. They were situated on the second floor of the 705 building, the System Development Division (SDD) laboratory. It wasn't until the announcement on April 7, 1964 that they knew that the product line would be called the System/360 and the operating system OS/360. There were about 30 people in the department at the time, most from the recently concluded Stretch development project and a few from England's Hursley labs. Because of his I/O background at Philco he was placed in the Data management group, along with four workers from Hursley. From there he migrated to the hardware I/O requirements of data management. The 705 building was a large data center which contained at least one of every second generation product line in order to provide the second generation software groups test capability. This is why IBM needed the System/360. IBM was dominant in the industry at that time. Its second generation products were very broad, very successful - and incompatible. The 7070/7080s for commercial Cobol customers. The 7040/ 7044/ 7090/ 7090/ 7094 for scientific Fortran customers. And Stretch for the really heavy customers. The 1401/ 1410/ 7010 lower end systems for unit record and "online". All of these systems were fragmented at IBM as they, in general, had their own software/ hardware/ peripherals/ documentation/ sales/ support organizations. IBM decided that they needed a common product line that would satisfy all these customers - commercial or scientific and large or small…thus the System/360, OS/360, and PL/1. The System/360 name was designed to imply support for all points of the computing compass. It was fundamentally a defensive move by IBM initially that turned out to be brilliant for the customer base - and, obviously for IBM. The concept of such scalability and compatibility revolutionized the industry thinking at the time, even though the resultant development fell a little short of the concept. At the time around $4B per year in revenue, it put IBM on the growth path towards $100B per year. As other second generation projects wrapped up (1410/7010, 7040/7044, etc), the Control Program organization grew. He ended up working for a Project Coordinator named Bill Clark – they became very good friends. The OS/360 project sucked up all available manpower and the initial team of 30 grew to almost 1200. Since IBM Field Engineering was going to take on OS/360 maintenance in addition to the hardware, several of their best people were moved to Poughkeepsie to work on development. Of course the Sales division had to have trained System Engineers in order to support their customers, so they provided high quality SEs to the project. He began work on the prototype IOS (PROTIOS) in the second half of 1963. Since there was no System/360 hardware yet, this work had to be done on an IBM 7030 Stretch which had an assembler and an emulator for the creation and testing of System/360 code. The IBM 7030 Stretch system was in the 701 building, the main manufacturing building for IBM's large mainframe systems. Stretch was the most powerful computer in the world, used for weather forecasting, and anything that required major CPU processing power. It had government applications as well. The process consisted of the keypunching of source code, assembling it with the assembler, basic tests via the emulator, and then ultimately punching out a binary deck load module for execution on a System/360 itself. Initially, there was no such System/360 available. The first one became available sometime in 1964. His idea for the project was to write code as close as possible to his preliminary IOS design spec. To test it he would write a series of "apps" that would - "GetNextCard", "PunchNextCard", "PrintNextLine", Write to the Console, Operator Interrupt routine, and Write/Read/Rewind Tapes. Also an app that would access the disk support, although he couldn't test that on Stretch. In addition, he needed an IPL (boot) process, a dump program, and an event trace so he could debug the very interrupt driven asynchronous nature of the System/360 I/O. So he could rely on the availability of absolutely no debug tools on the System/360 when a system finally arrived in the Data Center. The System/360 had a hardware service call function called an SVC call. It was the fundamental way that an app could invoke various control program functions. IOS had one such call - the Execute Channel Program call (EXCP). The OS/360 task supervisor had calls for Waiting (WAIT), Posting (POST), and Exiting (EXIT). All of these would ultimately be implemented via SVC calls to the supervisor. But the SVC numbers of course at that time were not assigned. So he assigned his own in PROTIOS, naturally starting with zero and implemented the design spec then in existence for all calls in PROTIOS. Later he transferred to IBM FSD in Bethesda Maryland with responsibility for the integration of software on a project to build a multiprocessing version of OS/360 on a pair of model 65s. He recruited personnel at FSD and created a technician capability that offloaded mundane activities from the development programmers. After leaving IBM in 1967, he received an IBM Outstanding Contribution Award (OCA) for his IOS effort in 1966. He went to Programming Sciences Corporation (PSC) in 1967 and spent almost four years there before they went bankrupt in February 1971 in the midst of an economic recession. He joined Hughes Aircraft in June of 1971 in time to head a project that centralized all of Hughes Computers in Fullerton, California. He spent seven years there, the last several of which he was Manager of the Corporate Data Center. They started with IBM System 370/165s and ended with 100% plug compatible Amdahl 470 systems. They were the first multi CPU center to go to 100% Amdahl CPUs. In 1978 he approached Amdahl for a job since he was interested in returning to a developer of systems and ended up as Manager of Product Planning. He was later recruited to a staff job at Citibank working for John Reed, head of the Consumer Services Division. He was an in house consultant to the worldwide IBM based data center network at Citibank. In 1980, Carl Reynolds called and asked him if he wanted to be CEO of his own company! Carl was on the board of Boole and Babbage, a pioneering third party software product company and a widely known marquee name in the industry. They were almost bankrupt, in dire need of a turnaround and a new CEO. He accepted and they turned around, were profitable for three years and went public in February 1984…the second software product company to ever do that. He was there for the last eleven years of his career, until his retirement in 1991.
  • Date of Birth:

    Jan 1, 1937
  • Date of Death:

    May 16, 2016
  • Gender:

    Male
  • Noted For:

    Pioneer on the prototype IOS (PROTIOS)
  • Category of Achievement:

  • More Info:

Still Alive: