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
, 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
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
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
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
Updated 21st May 2012