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Now and Recent years

I am now retired, but for forty-two of my forty-four years at college and at work I was a computer programmer with one company. That company ended up as Fujitsu Services, but when I joined as a sponsored student in 1965 it was called ICT (International Computers and Tabulators), and a few years later ICL (International Computers Limited). In 2002 ICL became Fujitsu Services.

For the last couple of years with the company I worked on two projects utilising CA Unicenter Service Catalogue.

Since 1995 I had been involved with the development, maintenance and enhancement of a distributed application known as TERN for a UK Government department. A Microsoft Windows front end linked to server capsules written in C++ on the Sun Solaris platform, which in turn accessed an ORACLE database, ICL VME TPMS server, and Documentum docbase. A CORBA interface glued the disparate components together. I was concerned with most parts of the system at one time or another, but concentrated mainly on the UNIX C++ servers.

In 2006 we upgraded to Sun-Fire V210 servers with Solaris 9, ORACLE 9i and Orb2 for C/C++ 3.7 (CORBA 2.1 compliant Object Broker).

The small team consisted of lead designer/implementer Cliff Cooley, Dave Fox, Paul Robinson and me. Sadly GUI developer Lucy Wilcox died in October 2003 after a long fight against cancer. Our Project Manager was Dek Beasley whom I have known for more than thirty years. We then both worked on the GEORGE operating system project for the ICL 1900 series of mainframes.

At the end of 2000 I became a founder member of a small team supporting ICL´s internal CRM system, based upon Siebel  7.5.3, and an ORACLE 9i database.  The team was led by Anne Greenshields and included Sally Weymouth and Mike King.

At the end of 1998 I passed the Visual Basic 5.0 exam as part of the Microsoft MCSD course. It was my first exam for twenty-nine years!




In 1965 I joined one of the earliest courses leading to an Honours Degree in Computer Science at what is now Wolverhampton University in the West Midlands. The degree was awarded by the National Council for Academic Awards. I specialised in 'Commercial Programming' in the four year sandwich course of nine months at college then three years split equally between industry and college. I was lucky enough to be sponsored by International Computers and Tabulators (ICT), the largest British computer manufacturer. I was called a Marketing Student because software was what was given away to sell their mainframe machines called the 1900 Series. During my industrial periods I worked at the contract programming department in Wandsworth, London, in the regional support office in Birmingham near my home, and finally in the COBOL compiler production department in Reading, Berkshire.

1969 - 1975

When I got my degree, ICT had been forced by the Labour Government to merge with the other major British computer manufacturer English Electric to become International Computers Limited (ICL). I joined the department responsible for producing the 'operating systems' called GEORGE 1, 2, 3, and 4. GEORGE 1 was a batch job control system, GEORGE 2 added spooling of I/O. This is where I first worked. These were installed on mainframes at the smaller end of the ICL 1900 Series. When development of these systems ceased, I moved on to GEORGE 3 and its big brother GEORGE 4 with innovative virtual memory. They really were multi-user operating systems for the bigger machines of the 1900 Series. By big I mean 32K words (that's 24 bit words) memory or bigger, and several megabytes of hard disk or magnetic drum storage. Monsters! We programmed in 1900 assembly languages called PLAN and GIN.

There is currently a one man project at Leeds University to get GEORGE running on a PC.

1975 - 1977

By 1975 we had been moved to a newly built office thirty miles out of London in Bracknell. Business was difficult, and when there was a request for volunteers for voluntary redundancy, I took the opportunity and went to work for ATV Management Services in London. The ATV group headed by Lew Grade (later Lord Grade) included the ATV Midlands television franchise holder, Pye Records and a small company called Answerphone among others. The Management Services company were very keen on the MUMPS operating environment based on DEC mid-range processors. I joined as an Analyst/Programmer using MUMPS at Pye Records in Mitcham and later at ATV in central London where the TV advertisement real-time booking system was based on a MUMPS system.

1977 - 1982

In 1976 I married Gaynor, and the hours of daily commuting became intolerable. Also MUMPS was getting me nowhere. In 1977 I joined Dataskil in Reading. In fact Dataskil was a wholly owned subsidiary of ICL! I returned to 1900 assembler programming, maintaining and enhancing the ICL payroll package called COMPAY which was then the biggest selling such application in Britain. Inexplicably I stayed there for five years.

1982 - 1985

I returned eventually to the ICL Bracknell building in 1982 to join the TME operating system project. This was the last gasp of the 1900 series architecture in the form of a mid range machine called the ME29 series. I was responsible for system building and maintaining and enhancing the automated bug reporting system.

1985 - 1995

Eventually further development of TME ceased and maintenance was given to home programmers. After a six months stint in maintenance of the ICL VME operating system, I was offered a secondment to a small project implementing the Session Layer of the OSI Comms model. The idea was to write a generic module that could be used all over ICL. It was developed in PASCAL for a UNIX platform, both new to everyone concerned. My job was to design and implement the test bed for the Session Layer. It was invaluable as an introduction to UNIX.

When that project was completed I joined the OfficePower project. This was an early integrated office automation package, and is still being used. This is where I first started C programming on UNIX. Quite soon I was drafted into a team to downsize OfficePower to run on a PC. The major work was to rewrite the advanced (for then) word processor called OfficePower Word, but my task was to design and implement the installation program, and build and test the package both on the PC and on a desktop system called DRS300 which ran under Concurrent DOS.

I then took over the maintenance and enhancement of a supplementary package called the OfficePower Document Converter (ODC) that had been written by a two man team in California. This suite of programs written in C, converted files produced by a number of word processing products to OfficePower Word format and vice versa, and included an OfficePower-like front end. This was a fascinating project for me, and I became expert in several popular word processors of the early 90's, especially WordPerfect.

It was the lack of resources to write a converter for Microsoft Word that finally killed ODC. For my next project I was responsible for the design of an auditing option for OfficePower and was a member of the team who implemented it. The product was eventually included in the commercial OfficePower product.

The British Army commissioned a consortium including ICL to produce a special version of the commercial OfficePower product to be ported to Bull AIX machines. I was involved in various enhancements to this product for a couple of years before I joined the TERN project.

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Updated 21st May 2012