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 on: January 05, 2017, 06:46:25 am 
Started by msjohnso - Last post by JimT
I love stories like that.  I have one that is a bit different.  I worked with a guy in memory design (in Rancho Bernardo) who was notorious for rejecting RFC's (Request For Change) out of hand.  It was on April 1st, and I decided to make a joke RFC.  This was in the late 70's or early 80's.  At the time I was the UM for some of the processors.  In that era we used a lot of tantalum capacitors, and they were very expensive.  I posed as an IE (Industrial Engineer), and I requested the removal of MANY tantalum cap's for a huge cost savings.  The savings was both material cost and power consumption.  I wrote it very professionally, and the name I used was D. C. Power.  He wrote a lengthy rejection without ever noticing that it was a joke.  I wish I had kept the document.

 on: January 04, 2017, 12:25:39 pm 
Started by msjohnso - Last post by heikobuss
I love it ... !

 on: January 03, 2017, 08:53:45 pm 
Started by msjohnso - Last post by msjohnso
Here's a story from NCR's Wichita, Kansas plant, which was the home of 8100, 8200, 9020, and 9100 computer system manufacturing in the 70's through 90's.

Every system was shipped with a QA 'squawk card' - a postcard where the installing tech, or the customer, could note any quality problems seen in installation or early operation. On one occasion in the late 1970's, a card was returned with the complaint "Two dead rats found in power supply."

The manufacturing QA manager of the time, Walt Shively, made a copy of the card and quickly penned a reply to the customer:

"Must be shipping damage - they were alive when they left here."

Two important facts:
1. The customer had a reasonably good sense of humor.
2. Walt had lots of friends at Corporate QA.

Without both of those things, he might very well have been out the door...

The Wichita facility, through mergers, acquisitions, and such, is now a NetApp engineering facility - but the last I knew, a brass-plate copy of the QA card with Walt's reply was still in the trophy case.

 on: December 06, 2016, 02:25:39 am 
Started by JJW - Last post by JimT
Interesting history JJ.  I didn't know what happened to Celerity after everyone left.  I worked for Steve Vallendar, with Nick Aneshansley, and I worked with all of the hardware guys that went to Celerity.  Steve assembled a good group of people.

 on: December 06, 2016, 02:16:27 am 
Started by fred - Last post by JimT
JJ - I do believe that we worked together.  I was in hardware from 1964-1986, then I transferred to Manufacturing.  I worked on the CRAM 2, Century 50/100/150, Criterion series (V and I), Sumitomo memories (Century and Criterion), I9300/9400, and the I10000 series.  B/T/W, they did continue the CRAM into the Century series as the 653.  I don't recall when it was discontinued as I was no longer working on it.

 on: November 26, 2016, 04:26:36 pm 
Started by wally - Last post by wally
My brain is almost 10 years older and there are a few gaps too.
Once in a while I'm in contact with Paul by e-mail.
Season's greetings and best wishes for the New Year for you too! Smiley Smiley
Cheers, Wally.

 on: November 26, 2016, 02:55:54 am 
Started by wally - Last post by Fast Eddy2
Thanx for the links.  Other than Paul Wood, I don't recall any of the others in the links.

Having tuned 63 this year, my memories are fading fast as it has been 30+ years.

I truly enjoyed my time in BDA and have no regrets.

All the best for the coming Christmas season!


 on: November 23, 2016, 11:45:04 am 
Started by wally - Last post by wally
Hi "Big" Ed,
I know the group "I worked in Bermuda". But I have stopped my activities in Facebook about 2 years ago.
BTW there is another group in Facebook, it's called "BBM - NCR Bermuda" and was started by Jim Ferguson. It is a closed group.

A further group is "Bermuda Friends from the 70's", which is a public group.

And the group "Old Bermuda: Our Island, Our History", a closed group, might be of interest too.

After working for BBM I was in charge for EDP at "The MarketPlace" in Bermuda.
At the time you worked for BBM, I was part-owner of "Advanced Software", in those days located in the Armoury Building on Reid Street.

Some of the people, I knew at BBM and in Bermuda in general, have passed away (RIP).

Regards Wally.

 on: November 23, 2016, 12:12:00 am 
Started by wally - Last post by Fast Eddy2
Hello Wally (I hope you are still active on these forums),

I worked at BBM from 1984 to the end of 1986, primarily on the Criterion Mainframes.  There is a group on Facebook called "I used to work in Bermuda" and you can catch up with a couple of ex-BBMers there as well.

"Big" Ed.

 on: November 04, 2016, 06:21:36 pm 
Started by JJW - Last post by JJW
Celerity Computing was not NCR but since it was formed by NCR employees (from Rancho Bernardo and Scripps Ranch in San Diego) and used an NCR processor chip, I thought a brief description is appropriate for this forum.

Celerity was formed in 1983 By Steve Vallender (President), Nick Aneshansley (V P of hardware development) and Drew McCrocklin (VP of software development) all from NCR. The idea behind the new company was that the high speed microprocessor that was used to execute Criterion firmware could be turned into a high speed, direct execution computer for graphic processing which would operate in an office environment and compete with other newly formed companies in an emerging marketplace (like Apollo and Sun Microsystems).

Other NCR employees were quickly brought on board: #4 was Karl Lehman (who would do device drivers) and #5 was me (J. J. Whelan, to work on the port of the Unix Operating System). Others on the software side were: Jeff Anderson (who was familiar with Unix and would also work on the port), Sandra Lee (to do utilities and who was just a general keep everyone's head focused sort of individual), Patricia Shanahan (who would port the Unix compilers), Clark Masters (to take care of operations, software tools and configuration management) and Stephanie McCartney (to do product builds and integration as well as general support). Hardware Engineers from NCR included Jim Kocol, Jim Gilbert and Gary Gilbert. On the software side we were joined by an excellent group of developers from the Burroughs office in Rancho Bernardo. The offices and final hardware assembly were located in a building in Scripps Ranch across the freeway from the NCR facility.

The main challenges were two fold: To turn the 16 bit architecture of the execution side of the chip into a full fledged 32 bit architecture and to provide virtual storage capability on a chip that didn't possess the fault mechanisms to properly suspend operations when a memory location was not available. Implementation was aided by the fact that the chip provided for a large number of external registers (intended for I/O) that could be used to implement the interface with the new hardware and (most importantly) that the chip had a full 32  bit access to external data memory. The founders had already come up with the basics for solving these difficulties and it fell to the rest of us to fill in the details.

This was an excellent team with both managers and others who had experience in designing, creating and delivering products to schedule. The initial development was done on a DEC VAX system and BSD Unix was the Unix base. The operating system goal was to exactly match the behavior of the VAX system.

The resulting system turned out to be more of a competitor with the DEC VAX products than with the originally intended graphics office systems.

The second system produced was a dual processing system and Jeff Anderson and I created what I believe was the first commercially available multi-processor Unix kernel.

The fact that the system was being used mostly in scientific processing environments led to the decision that we should focus on the low end of the supercomputer market. The next product was an up to eight processor high performance system based on a high speed clone of the NCR chip build out of generally available integrated circuits. However, sales of systems didn't make up for the cost of development and the company was merged with FPS Systems in Beaverton Oregon.

FPS was a very successful manufacturer of scientific array processors which were attached to DEC and IBM equipment. They were encountering decreasing sales because DEC and IBM were providing their own array processors (often integrated with their system). The idea was that the merged company could provide a high performance scientific system with array processing capabilities that would compete with DEC, if not IBM. This hope was buoyed by the fact that FPS had a successful sales team and record in the desired marketplaces. The Mainframe development remained in San Diego under the same management though Clark Masters took over from Steve Vallender..

It was also realized that the Celerity team would not be able to keep up with the rapidly growing high performance micro-chips and it was decided to move away from the NCR based architecture. After looking into the possibilities, the decision was to use the Sun Microsystems SPARC architecture. A high performance SPARC chip was already in development and Sun had no plans to develop a supercomputing system using it and that meant elerity would have Sun's full cooperation. SPARC also already had the, UCB Unix based, Solaris operating system and it was simple matter to move the multi-processing capabilities to that version.

The combined company sold several systems but was unable to maintain itself and was bought by Cray and then sold to Sun where it ended its life as the "Sun Supercomputing" division.

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