Bell & Howell Apple II update

From: Richard Erlacher <>
Date: Sun Jan 27 14:36:52 2002

No one can argue with that! At Martin Marietta, very much a DEC-loving
establishment in '87, we were contemplating building a microVAX equivalent on
the extended VME bus just to get away from the extreme cost problems with
rotating memory and graphics display equipment from DEC, though. This was
because we'd been building our own enclosure, backplane, etc, in order to make
the uVAX-II hardware, which was COTS stuff, happy with the required mil-spec
temperature range. The reason for all this effort was VMS, which seemed to
satisfy most of the requirements for functionality and security that other OS'
left hanging in one way or another. I've not heard much criticism of VMS over
the years.

BTW, that MASS-11 was claimed to work on the PC in the same way as it worked
under VMS, but it didn't. It was claimed to be capable of editing in columns,
which it did only "sorta" since it scrambled the columns if you handled it
incorrectly and the resulting mess was irreparable. This was a minor point,
but one that bit us in the *ss, as the presentation layour for the testing
procedures, of which there were thousands, relied on the ability to edit the
procedures after they'd been prepared in columnar form.

At one point I had the ignominious task of itemizing the points on which
MASS-11 failed to meet our requirements, and, as it turned out, every point
that had been used to justify its acquisition for project-wide use turned out
to be on that list. The big boss (engineering manager) had been convinced,
since he didn't have to use the thing, that it worked fine, due to clever
presentation and salesmanship. He had one of his subordinates fire me from
the project, and the VP-level program manager had to hire me back a week or
two later.

That's not to say that MASS-11 wasn't a good and valuable tool, only that it
had been sorely misrepresented in this case, in order to make the sale.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Ethan Dicks" <>
To: <>
Sent: Sunday, January 27, 2002 12:23 PM
Subject: Re: Bell & Howell Apple II update

> --- John Allain <> wrote:
> > > Apples and oranges. Comparing a PC-AT and a uVAX-II
> >
> > Has there ever been a case where he hasn't taken the last word?
> > I think if I had enough wind to outblow Richard I'd be set for a
> > long and successful career in politics. Thank-You no.
> John... check the attribution... that was _my_ reply refuting that
> in 1987 a PC-AT was an obvious choice for a computer as compared to
> an uVAX-II. It was long winded, yes, but I included some datapoints
> from my memories of the time to support _my_ assertion that the PC-AT,
> IBM or clone, was not the one-and-only obvious choice for computing
> 15 years ago. We were an all-DEC shop and did not get a PC until the
> acct. dept purchased a PS/2 Model 30 (which I still have) for *big*
> moola. We only got it so we could run PC accounting software. Even
> the accountants still used MASS-11 for wordprocessing and VAX MAIL
> for e-mail, even though they had a PC... back then, each PC was an island,
> and the VAX was our common work place.
> I still say, if you need VMS, for 1987, the uVAX-II was the way to go
> for a new machine. If you didn't need VMS, there were plenty of other
> computers to buy.
> -ethan
> __________________________________________________
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Received on Sun Jan 27 2002 - 14:36:52 GMT

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