Coky the Bug
Miscellaneous IBI documents and bulletin board postings
IBI was not a very big operation back in 1980: here's an old Phone list that I used to cross off
old employees on. Some of the names you might not be able to
read are Mark Carleo, Kevin McGowan,
Howard Share, Nick Giordano, Robert Moran, Helen Hirsch, Rivka Ralbag. Another old IBI vet
left off the list was Claire Uhle (reception).
Thanks for the Formation memos department
Here's a memo sent out by GDC that nicely tells you not
to work too hard or too long, because the overloaded Formation computer will crash.
Here are the original lyrics to "The FORMATION Blues" from the 1983 Xmas party.
A subtle plea from Coky.
Coky celebrates the replacement of the Formation with a 4300!
in 1989, the Macintosh port department was created, with me,
Harvey Sobelman, and Peter Kaboolian. It was grafted into the Vax department,
because there had been some tentative agreement between Digital and Apple to use Macs as their personal computers.
Can we convince the corporate world to buy Macs?
Coky give his honorary Mainframe resignation speech...
We eventually DID get FOCUS to run on the Mac. In fact, we kept porting it, with major internal revisions, due to architectural changes in FOCUS code, Apple internals and porting philosophy, for almost another 3 years!
The MAC was well known as a word processing and page making machine. I thought I'd try my hand at desktop publishing, but didn't get very far. nevertheless, it was pretty funny!
I leave you with this nearly accurate, amended impression of my working life at IBI, penned a few years ago
by big-deal Perl consultant and former barefoot IBI intern M. J. Dominus, posted on
Feb 17, 1990 (quite some time ago!) to alt.folklore.computers and talk.bizzarre:
My $NAME today honors Mr. J. Henry H. Lowengard.
The introductory story about Henry is: Henry's
[great-]Grandfather used to have a lot of money.
He had invented [actually: invested in] a
way to grow leaf tobacco for cigars in, of all places,
Connecticut. Of course, nobody smokes cigars any more, so
the Harton [Hartman] Tobacco Co. is out of business.
I met Henry two summers ago during a stint at
Information Builders, Inc. IBI manufactures FOCUS, which is
a dinosaurian hierarchical database system. Henry was one
of the IBIers from way, way back, almost the dawn of time,
and so he knew more about the fundamental workings than
anyone else. I shared an office with Henry. For two weeks
I couldn't figure out what he was being paid to do. It
seemed like he sat around, played with the little plastic
dinosaurs on his desk, went to lunch, and answered stupid
questions from me about CMS. I remember asking someone
"What does Henry _do_?" I forget the answer I got.
One day, a customer called the customer service
people. The customer was not happy. The customer's
database had had a little accident and was blasted beyond
hope. All the godzillions of little pointers that point
around inside the FOCUS file were dangling hither and
thither. Customer service transferred the customer to
For the next four or five or six hours, Henry was on
the phone with the customer, telling them how to take the
pointy ends of the pointers and stick them back into the
right places. Henry knew so much about the bottom-level
workings of FOCUS and had known it so long that it was
Having fixed the database, he showed me the ruler he
kept inside the keyboard of his 3270 where the diagnostic
guide was supposed to go. It had little scenes of mother
animals with their babies that moved when you tilted the
ruler back and forth.
I never asked what Henry did again. I had learned a
valuable lesson: When you have a program as big and as old
as FOCUS, very few people know what it is actually doing any
more. If you do happen to have someone on hand who knows,
you hold on to them.
Quite a thought.
The wicked flee when no one pursueth.
Mark-Jason Dominus entropy (At) pawl.rpi.EDU uunet!inco!alembic!entropy
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