February 13, 2006

MSA memories — the basics

When I became a software analyst in 1981, MSA (Management Science America) was generally regarded as the leading cross-industry financial software vendor. Its CEO was the colorful John Imlay, best known for a variety of showman stunts, such as bringing animals to sales meetings. (He also was known as “the man who killed the keypunch” from his hardware days, when he took a sledgehammer on stage to a keypunch machine in a presentation introducing key-to-disk technology.) The president was Bill Graves, the most agile 300 poundish guy I’ve ever seen off of a football field, and still the only person at whose house I’ve held hands during the saying of Grace.

MSA software ran only on IBM mainframes. There were a limited number of modules. I specifically recall an ad campaign for the “Big Eight,” because they had eight modules, and the “Big Eight” were the public accounting firms in those days. The eight included payroll, human resources, and six financial modules, which were general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, purchasing, fixed assets, and probably inventory. That’s all, versus the hundreds of modules successor companies have today.

MSA obviously modeled its “persona” on IBM. Indeed, the MSA logo consisted of the three letters in a font that consisted of thin parallel horizontal lines, exactly like IBM’s of that day did. Another major slogan was “People are the key,” with little key lapel pins given to five- and ten-year employees.

MSA struggled with the technological move from batch to real-time packages, and lost ground to M&D (McCormack & Dodge) over those struggles, but made it in time to survive. Eventually, MSA was acquired by Dun & Bradstreet, which had already bought M&D, and the two arch-rivals merged into D&B Software. The whole thing stagnated – most mainframe software was doing badly by the late 1980s — and eventually was spun out to Geac, which recently has been LBOed, and another reshuffling is now underway.

MSA eventually diversified into industry-specific vertical market software. In particular, it bought MRP vendor Comserv. It also bought Information Associates, which sold software mainly to universities and other non-profit organizations.

MSA actually had a large collection of the software industry’s notable executives and characters. The head of development was Dennis Vohs, who most people thought might be better suited to be a sales guy. The head of sales was Don House, who most people thought might be better suited to be a development guy. Vohs’ chief lieutenants included Larry Smart and Pat Tinley, both of whom went on to be software company CEOs. Vohs, Tinley, and Joe Southworth (perhaps MSA’s brightest development exec) went on to run Ross Systems. Doug MacIntyre, later CEO of a couple of companies, was MSA’s first VP of marketing. Fran Tarkenton, the ex-football player, was allegedly an exec. So far as I could tell, this amounted mainly to their conference room being called “Fran Tarkenton’s office,” with some of his trophies kept there. Apparently, people liked being in Fran Tarkenton’s office, and this helped sales. Tarkenton later went on to found CASE vendor Tarkenton Software, which merged into James Martin’s pet CASE company Knowledgeware. MSA’s obligatory bankruptcy staving-off story is John Arnold (later Northeast region sales chief) making a sale that was contingent on a financial stability reference, then hanging out in a phone booth to take a call and fake the reference himself. Well, actually the early days of the company were a mess, which is why Imlay was brought in to fix it, but that’s so far back in the late 60s and/or early 70s that I never really knew the details. But at one time MSA stood for “Management Science Atlanta.”

The executive team Imlay replaced included Jim Edenfield and Tom Newberry, who went on to found American Software. Other notable ex-MSAers include Rick Page and other principals of his sales training company. And MSA also owned Peachtree Software for a while, which was a leading microcomputer accounting software vendor in its day.

Comments

89 Responses to “MSA memories — the basics”

  1. Software Memories»Blog Archive » Prerelational financial app software vendors 1 — a quick overview on February 13th, 2006 10:47 am

    […] MSA (Management Science America). This section got so long I’m breaking it out as a separate post just about MSA. […]

  2. Jerri Lang on May 9th, 2006 12:08 am

    Dear sir,
    I am trying to track down a fellow who used to work for MSA
    and then started with Cullinet. He was the Regional Sales Manager
    for Cullinet in the late 80’s and went on to Data Cable from there.
    We would like to make contact with him if at all possible. His name
    was Christopher R. Malcolm. His wife was Charlotte, and they lived
    in Europe for a while when he was with the company. If you have some
    info please let me know. It involves some family he is unaware of
    and would like to find him.

  3. Gary Knopp on June 15th, 2006 1:33 pm

    I enjoyed this brief write up, but would tell the story much differently. I was there in what I think of as the golden era of 1978-1988. What made MSA work then was that Imlay made the company right for the time. It was a time, when service and sales prowess could make a software company successful. At that time, we had all the tools to be the leader. There was no great emphasis on development because the competitive landscape did not demand it. It did demand great selling and great support and that is what we delivered. By the late 80s companies like Oracle and SAP (I worked for both later) made technology the key. But in the golden era, “people were the key”. This was the highlight of my career and the best times of my life. I have thanked John Imlay for what he did for me, other and the customer. He was and is a true leader.

  4. Curt Monash on June 26th, 2006 6:37 pm

    Hmm. I’m not sure I can accept the claim that technology had fundamentally different levels of importance at different points in time.

    Xerox Computer Services was a $100 million enterprise, with sales training so good that a lot of the other companies’ sales folks got their starts there. Yet it fizzled. If MSA had more thoroughly flubbed the move from batch to real time, it would have gone away years earlier. And so on.

    Obviously, platform technology was much less of an issue in the character-based, pre-relational era than it was later on. A larger fraction of app vendors died from the switch to client-server/RDBMS than died in any platform shift before or after. But I think you overstated the case by far.

    Or am I missing the gist of what you said?

    But no matter what, thanks for posting!! I want to collect as many thoughts and impressions at this site as I can. There’s a lot of history that shouldn’t be lost.

    CAM

  5. Diane Stephenson on October 4th, 2006 8:34 am

    Hi Gary – I also enjoyed the article here. I got here by searching for John Imlay as I was telling folks I work with about what a great place MSA was to work. One correction that I would make was that we didn’t get pins after five or ten years but shortly after we joined the company. It made you feel like part of a valuable group right away. I feel John was a pioneer in how to treat people who work for you. When Microsoft first started and some of the silicon valley start ups tried a similar approach. Now with overseas outsourcing and constant reductions in force
    people have been lost in the shuffle. I remember my time working for MSA very fondly as well. Diane

  6. monash on October 11th, 2006 12:41 pm

    Hi Diane!

    I thought you got nicer pins — silver, gold, whatever — after longer tenure.

    Best,

    CAM

  7. Steve on October 12th, 2006 9:07 am

    I’m sure it’s a real long shot, but several of the posters seem likely to have great knowledge about MSA. I am desperately trying to find some manuals/information regarding how to control security to the MSA Accounts Payable package (screens smm –> sem). Is there still such documentation/information available out there? Would it be the “Data Processing Guide”? I have the “Operator’s Guide”, but it doesn’t really discuss security. I would really appreciate any help. Thank you.

  8. Jim Jones on October 21st, 2006 6:23 am

    I started my software career in MSA back in 1981 in the UK. A couple of things about John Imlay. I remember a HR Director at a Imlay Lunch in London saying “John how do balance managing MSA and speaking around the world?”, John’s response was “Look around the room you will see a number of my team here, I am leading from the front and pulling my company with me, have you ever tried to push a rope?” With regard to the key on your first day MSA gave you a silver key from Tiffanys, and your spouse, and it was upgraded to gold after 5 years, after 10 diamonds were added to the ladies brooch. In the UK we still have reunions, the next is planed for early November, they are named ‘The Broken Key Club’ and we can still get 40+ ex MSA employees and I am not sure that any other software company of that era can boast the same. Like most people I have fond memories of my 8 years at MSA and when you look around the software industry today many of the leaders are still influency these new technologies

  9. Rebecca Tydings on November 21st, 2006 11:25 pm

    I worked at MSA (incidentally, it was Management Science America – not Atlanta) as a very young, entry level administrative support staff member in the early to mid-eighties. I, too, loved working there and maintain contact with a few of my former co-workers. I remember the company as an action-packed, moving and shaking leader in the software industry that was just so incredibly exciting to be a part of.

    John Imlay was larger than life and Bill Graves was larger than that. The collective talent and brilliance of the upper management team was amazing to watch and learn from.

  10. monash on November 22nd, 2006 2:41 am

    Hi, Rebecca!

    About that name thing — I stand by my story. The switch from “Atlanta” to “America” was long before I covered the company or you worked there. If I had to guess, it was somewhere in the 1971-3 timeframe.

  11. Ed O'Neill on February 10th, 2007 10:57 pm

    My name is Ed O’Neill and i am proud to have been a small part of MSA in the early ’80s. John Imlay, Larry Smart were inovator then and the fact the “company” landed w/detriment. That is a story i dont have time for now. What i want to do is find my old fthje Omni and looking friends Steve Carter, Chris Malcolm, Danny Abadin, Bob Layson. It has been 25 years and i am coming down for the Final Four, staying at the Omni.

  12. Kevin Ashworth on March 19th, 2007 9:44 pm

    Ed, Steve Carter is at a company in Atlanta named North Highland Consulting. He’s
    been there several years and reachable. See this site above or here: http://www.northhighland.com/locations/Atlanta.html.

    Kevin Ashworth

  13. ray on June 11th, 2007 7:33 am
  14. Mike Sachais on June 18th, 2007 8:29 am

    I too worked at MSA during the glory days, through the merger with M&D, and the buyout by Geac, overall
    a total of 15 years. Things started going downhill when Imlay sold out and left the company. When he left
    the focus changed from the employees to the business.
    Looking back, and having worked as a consultant in numerous IT shops since then, the
    thing that made MSA successful was they truly practiced what they preached with the phrase “People are the
    key”. They hired smart agressive people and rewarded them for their hard work and effort.
    People would come into work at all hours of the day and night and enjoy it. MSA trained their employees and
    taught them the proper way to design and build software. That produced results. It wasn’t perfect,
    but I truly believe if more companies treated their IT staff the way MSA treated their employees,
    there would be a lot more happy IT people in Atlanta. MSA was the Google of the 80’s.

  15. monash on June 24th, 2007 5:56 pm

    Actually, Mike, and this doesn’t at all contradict what you said, MSA had a big emphasis on stealing employees from firms that had good entry-level training themselves. Developers tended to come from EDS. (Including Bill Graves himself?) Salesmen tended to be former ADP sales managers.

  16. Bob Jensen on August 15th, 2007 8:31 pm

    A small correction, Curt. MSA didn’t steal employees from EDS…they stole EDS’ entire training curriculum instead. In the early to mid-1980s, they had something called the “Career Development Program” (CDP) which recruited heavily from colleges. It was essentially modeled after the EDS “boot camp” to the point where new hires into the CDP program had userids that were prefixed with “EDS”.

    They went from having one CDP class per year, to two a year, and rapidly ramped up to almost bimonthly class starts. 10 to 20 neophyte programmers in each class. Many of the CDP grads were fanatically loyal to the company: I can name a half dozen or so CDP graduates from the 1980s still working for the latest version of MSA (MSA –> Dun and Bradstreet —> Geac —> Extensity —> Infor Global Solutions). They’ve all been with the company for 20+ years now and have never worked anywhere else. You don’t see that kind of loyalty to a corporation in America nowadays, especially in the IT field!

    MSA truly had the “best and the brightest” throughout the 1980s. It was a young, hard working, hard partying camraderie. The yearly “Kick off” meetings were the highlight of the year, often held at Atlanta’s Fox Theater where no expense was spared.

    Oh, and that last module you referenced in your initial post wasn’t “inventory”, it was the late unlamented “Forecasting and Modeling” module, the balkiest, most unforgiving piece of mainframe software ever developed.

  17. Keith Canniff on October 27th, 2007 11:13 pm

    Ah, the good old days. I was with MSA from 83-87 and left just prior to the D&B buyout. From what I heard I was glad I did. Several of my friends remained and said the company just wasn’t the same anymore.

    To this day, I felt it was the best person oriented company I had ever worked for. As mentioned, the kick-off meeting/extravaganza, the Friday afternoon theme parties on the front lawn, softball teams, bowling teams, etc. Everyone worked hard and played hard. They definitely did their homework before hiring someone. Not only did they have to be technically proficient, they had to be “compatible” with others. I went through a 9 hour “interview” process, meeting with several different managers, HR, technical people, etc. They definitely treated their employee’s right. I remember the CDP program. They cranked out brainwashed MSA bots I think every 13 or 18 weeks, something like that. I don’t mean brainwashed in a bad way. They just took raw students, programmed in the MSA way, then let them loose with the rest of us. Seemed to work quite well.

    One of my favorite times was going on the all expense paid trip to Hilton Head as a result of winning the Olympian Award…. and I do mean “All expense paid”. You got there, they handed you a card, and said you can basically go anywhere except buying gifts and it’s on the company. It was awesome.

    I really wish I had kept in touch with my friends there, but It’s been a LONG TIME now. If your out there, drop me a line. Since this post probably monitors patterns in text, I’ll just say my email address is kcanniff at gmail.com.

  18. Michele on November 25th, 2007 10:51 pm

    I started at MSA and ended at DBS from 1989 – 1993.
    I wish I had kept in touch with all the friends I made at the company, I still talk about my days at the company what a good time we had. It was truly the best company to work for and I am proud to have been apart of such a company, if only I could find another company like it.

  19. Bill Wise on January 4th, 2008 2:05 am

    What seems to be missed in all the preceding dialog, is the story of the “incredible shrinking software company”. This DBS merger, driven internally and secretively by Bain, turned MSA and M&D, these innovative and very competitive companies into dust.

    On paper, a half billion dollar company, newly minted as Dung (pun intended) and Bradstreet Software was laid open to the US market entry of a German firm, SAP. M&D (we knew how to beat them), and likely, MSA were learning how to compete with this upstart entree, SAP.

    Just at this moment, Bain (yes, the same sleeeeazy company Mitt Romney was part of) suggests the timing of this merger is brilliant. So M&D and MSA energies are diverted to merger while SAP usurps the US market at precisely the most inappropriate time.

    End of story – MSA and M&D, hand the market to SAP and, as DBS, reach a combined market value of zero, thus, the incredible sucking sound of lost American enterprise in the name of greed.

    M&D was a great company with marvelous, creative and innovative people. I loved working there. Same goes for MSA. We enjoyed competing with each other.

    Bain turned it to dust.

  20. Jacqueline Burg on February 7th, 2008 5:41 pm

    Those were the days – I worked at MSA/Chicago in the late 80’s. It was a great place to work and what a learning experience. The travel was a lot of fun and the clients were the best. I have nothing but the best memories – Great friends, management, and company (until they sold out.)
    I left soon after D&B took over and went to work for a small Software consulting firm in Western New York.

  21. Anonymous on February 17th, 2008 10:24 pm

    Dennis Vohs is my uncle. Yep.

  22. Liz Neale on February 19th, 2008 10:17 am

    How fun to read these posts. It was indeed an exciting place to work.
    I was sales support in the Toronto, Canada office in the late 70’s and early
    eighties. Remember User Groups? I went on the sales trips to Hilton Head
    and Maui and User Group meetings in San Franciso and I think it was Portland,
    Maine.
    MSA people sure know how to have a good time. We said MSA stood for money, sex and
    adventure.
    I went to Cullinet, then called Cullinane. Like John Imlay, John Cullinane was
    a giant.
    I am now living in The Bahamas, a refugee from Canadian winters.

  23. Alan Dash on February 22nd, 2008 6:48 pm

    I never worked for MSA, but instead was the U.S. Vice President for a Japanese software services/marketing company (Fuyo Information Systems). Fuyo was the sales partner in Japan for Applied Data Research (ADR), based in Princeton, NJ (Roscoe,Vollie,Ideal,Datacom DB). John Imlay was close with the ADR President, Marty Goetz, and was a guest speaker at the big bashes that ADR held. John was known for his great jokes and sense of humor.

    Those years during the 1980’s were truly the “Golden Age” of mainframe software. Lavish spending, international meetings in exotic locations, and pleasant work environments. Little did we realize that some dark clouds were on the horizon: Personal computers and the imminent recession of the 1990’s!!!

    All good things come to an early end. Budgets tightened, good companies swallowed by larger greedy companies, cubicles instead of offices with windows, glass windows replaced by Microsoft Windows, slow decline of mainframe software, etc. ADR was bought by Computer Associates, and most ADR people were immediately laid off. Office environments became less friendly, benefits reduced, and more internal competition among employees at most companies. Loyalty became extinct, and mainframe software programmers were put on the “endangered species list.” The Golden Age is over, and now we can only reminisce.

    Alan Dash (ex-Computer Sciences Corp. and Fuyo)

  24. Mark Ivanovich on March 3rd, 2008 7:30 pm

    “No amount of planning will ever replace dumb luck and good salesmanship.”

    That was the ‘key’ learning experience I gained from my tenure at MSA.

    I now live on Maui and owe it all to the software industry experience of the 70’s and 80’s

    What ever happened to Andy Walton? Beth Hunt – ru out there somewhere?

    Aloha

  25. Norm Bukoski on March 19th, 2008 2:14 pm

    I worked at MSA in the early ’80s, also in the Toronto office. I knew when I found this thread, there’d be someone I knew. Liz, how are you?
    I kept in touch with a few MSA-ers – Brian Rooney, Dorothy (Bunny) Brandt (don’t know if she went back to her maiden name). Now not so much. Have lost touch with Gari (nee) Burrows snce the early ’90s.
    It was absolutely the best place to work. Work hard/play hard was virtually defined by them. We’d do training classes ending on Fridays. After the sessions, we’d open the bar and employees & customer/students would sit around drinking till all hours.

  26. Tim Shears on May 21st, 2008 3:40 pm

    My MSA years were from 1980 to 1990, based in the UK and Sweden.

    The MSA approach was great – hire bright people, give them training and opportunity and, most importantly, give them more responsibility if they could handle it, irrespective of age, connections, sex etc.

    What a shame the Bainite’s and other managed to turn 2 500 million dollar companies into one 300 million dollar comapny in the space of a year or 2. Still, our own fault for hiring the idiots in the first place.

    Imlay was a true leader and front man. He also made sure he had a detail guy (Graves) close behind him and that is a lesson we all can learn.

    I am still in touch with many ex-MSA’ers. The UK IT sector is littered with them. If only we had a secret handshake.

    To this day Imlay is the only guy I purposefully lost to at golf!

  27. Michael Murray on June 7th, 2008 12:39 pm

    The MSA division that I worked for was the folks that bought Arista Manufacturing Systems from Xerox Computer Services. They were far from happy-go-lucky.

    They had no clue about production and inventory control software and essentially ruined the business.

    They were acutely paranoid people that freaked out when E-Systems informed me that they would not be calling anymore until the recording device was removed from the phone system. They were recording the first 10 seconds of every phone call, looking for headhunters calling “their” people.

    On the other hand, we had an MSA critter calling programmers all day, every day, trying to recruit then from other companies. I was told that he was a “recruiter”, not a “headhunter”.

    If they found out that you were job hunting, you were immmediately fired.

    Although they knew almost nothing about production and inventory control systems and even less about selling them, they made it very clear that if they wanted any help or information that they would ask.

    Obviously, you cannot get creative with general ledger software, but manufacturing software is highly custom, and Arista had an entire department devoted to doing custom modifications for our customers. MSA decided that modifying a standard software product was stupid and that our customers should learn to adapt to the “standard” product. That angered the customer base and surprised the MSA folks.

    Arista and Comserv were strong rivals and sold hard against each other for years. So, MSA bought Comserv. If you found a manufacturing software prospect, what would you sell him? Another really dopey move on their part.

    Basically, MSA took a company that was the #1 provider of manufacturing software to Fortune 500 companies and tanked it on their watch.

    I’m grateful to MSA because the showed me that I just didn’t have the DNA to tolerate stupid corporate bullshit any more, so I became an entrepreneur.

    I agree that John Imlay was a really funny guy, but he wasn’t the force behind MSA then, just the face of it.

  28. Herbie on June 12th, 2008 4:49 pm

    MSA was indeed the place to be in the 80’s. I enjoyed the opportunity that was presented to the employees. I had the opportunity to work with a lot of very good people. With all the CDP teaching I did in my spare time I learned far more than I taught. I continue to run into a lot of this group throughout the country and every MSA’er I meet again brightens my day.

    The internal project “Screen Paint” was much like what SAP is. The idea of RIO’s(relational input output) and REM’s(Record Edit Modules) to handle editing and data integrity was ahead of its time. It was just a struggle to deliver it on time. I still remember installing it at HBO in NYC and Society National Bank before they pulled the plug. Somewhere I still have a VHS copy of the Mission Impossible tape made to celebrate the project.

    Thanks to all the MSA’ers that have remind me of the incredible time we had at MSA. The Olympian celebrations, the annual banquet at the FOX and all the Interacts were some of the best times I have ever had. Thanks for the memories.

  29. Recent reporting on the shenanigans at FAST | Text Technologies on July 8th, 2008 3:16 pm

    […] nothing new here. Back in the 1980s, we used to joke that MSA made 10% of its annual revenue and 100% of its profits between the 32nd and 40th of […]

  30. Michael Bernstein on August 4th, 2008 9:35 am

    I worked for M&D from 1987 until 1993, when I was laid off due to the “merger”. Actually, it was more of a takeover. Another factor, and a sizable one, in the demise of the combine D&B Software was the rivalry. It was an unfortunate choice to make MSA the controlling part. Most of the employees at MSA hated us. Instead of mergering to become a better company, the goal was to remove as much of M&D as possible. I was a senior-level programmer. I met with such terrible enmity when I demonstrated the Millennium platform, which they were eventually forced to use to build a new Customer Information Database, which M&D had just completed prior to the takeover, but was deemed completely useless.

    The beginning of the end was the dismissal of Frank Dodge. Then, corporate management shifted from Framingham, MA, to Atlanta. MSA management kept pulling to Atlanta all of the Framingham functions, laying off mostly just M&Ders. It was a horrible time.

    It seemed to me that the plan was to rid the world of everything M&D, not because the products or services were bad, but because it belonged to M&D. After the takeover, the atmosphere was one of hostility, sneakiness, and discontent. The company would probably still be around today in some form if the takeover had not happened, and Frank Dodge had remained in charge. I loved working at M&D. It was a great experience. What a shame…

  31. John Bixler on October 2nd, 2008 2:10 pm

    I made a lot of money with the letters MSA. Thank you John Imlay and the others for selling your software to 3 different companies where I was employed. They loved me than. They thought I was an application systems expert. They paid me well for knowing all about MSA. Alas, it is all over now. I now project manage Client Server and Web systems that have no idea of my glorious past. :-)

  32. Norm Bukoski on February 21st, 2009 6:15 pm

    Recently reconnected with Ron McKenzie. He’s still in ‘lanna. We talk about once a week. It’s great to reminisce about the old days.

  33. James Quine on February 23rd, 2009 11:16 pm

    I worked at MSA in their Santa Monica office from 1984-1987 – was hired right out of USC. It was a great company to work for and I had and amazing boss Debra Gallagher. She was inspiring and motivational. Under her leadership I created many programs for the company, including Seminar Planning and Territory Management Software, for use by the marketing divisions to increase sales. After about two years my boss moved to Atlanta and my new boss was not happy about my having won Employee of the Month too many times. Under his leadership, I started to hate my job and ultimately left the company. Those corporate retreats were a blast. Ahh, the days of wearing 3 piece suits, fun, but I don’t miss it. Now I’m strictly a shorts and t-shirt guy in Maui running a successful publishing company. But I really thank MSA for teaching me about business and how to work with others. Oh, and my brother Sean got a job there shortly after and worked for years after I left, and then as an MSA independent software consultant on his own.

  34. Beth Castleberry on March 9th, 2009 2:39 pm

    If anyone is still following this string of messages regarding MSA (Management Science America), I agree that it was one of the best companies to work for during the 80’s and early 90’s. That’s why numerous people with MSA on their resume went on to start/lead other software companies in Atlanta as well as throughout the world.

    With “People are the Key” as the MSA slogan, John Imlay used to joke that we were to wear those silver, gold, or gold w. diamond Tiffany keys on our pajamas, but these keys were a great symbol and were known throughout the industry — if you forgot to take it off before going out for drinks after work, someone would inevitably recognize that you worked for MSA…..

    But these keys served their intent well: during those days (prior to the D&B regime), we were made to feel each of us was an important cog in the wheel. We were expected to work very hard, traveling to podunk on a moment’s notice, etc., but where else would you find managers pushing the beer cart through the halls on Friday afternoon or gathering everybody together to watch the movie “Planes, Trains, & Automobiles”???

    I went from running the Accounts Payable Dept. at Georgia Tech using the MSA software to being a post-sales consultant on the A/P software in the SE Region at MSA. During my second week on the job, we all went to Callaway Gardens for 3 days for a team-building event. From staid Georgia Tech to MSA — what a cultural change! I eventually came to manage MSA’s internal and external events, including Travel Services, User Conferences, and Incentive Programs. Who knew you could get paid for having so much fun! Our customers recognized the value of this commaraderie, which is why so many of them ended up working for MSA.

    I transferred to D&B Corporate in 1992 but maintained my office in the “Pink Palace” in Atlanta (although they eventually had to replace those pink windows) even after GEAC bought D&B Software. As one of the last ones left in that building before the GEAC offices were moved to Perimeter Center, I virtually turned off the lights — what a sad day.

    As shown in some of these messages, the culture “took” and there are ex-MSA groups all over the world who still get together after 20+ years. (Here in Atlanta, Ferrall Summerell, an executive at MSA for many, many years, hosts quarterly lunches.)

    There is also a Yahoo Group site at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/exMSA moderated by Tom Bossie where many exMSAers communicate via email with the group, whether it’s to ask how to get in touch with someone from the past, informing the community about a job search or job availability, to learning about the loss of someone. Go to that URL and sign up; Tom will review your request and hopefully you’ll be able to find some of your old friends. It’s a valuable tool to keep up with what’s going on with this great group of people.

  35. Marti Jeffers on March 10th, 2009 12:25 am

    Hi Beth and All,

    I started working at MSA in 1980 and survived the years of mergers and layoffs until 2006 — by then it was Geac. The majority of my time with the company was spent of the development team, and later support team, for the Information Expert product — still being used after aver 25 years.

    I agree with most all of the comments made here by the other former MSAers. MSA was the best company that I worked for in my 35+ years in the software industry. We wore our keys (yes, we got the silver ones on the first day at work) proudly. We recognized each other in airports and places around the world by those keys. I was fortunate enough to be hired when the company was still small enough that John hosted new hires to lunch in his office and gave us our keys personally.

    We worked hard and played hard together. The people I worked with were some of the brightest and best in the industry — as has been shown by what they went on to do.

    I do stay in touch with as many former MSAers as I can. Those who came after we became D&B or Geac never really quite understood our loyalty to MSA and our love for that company. If only such a culture existed today!!

  36. Rick Page on March 10th, 2009 4:57 pm

    Curt, thanks for mention. I took the lovely parting gifts in 1990 and started The Complex Sale, Inc. which has been called a halfway house for abused sales managers. Among our principals are Brad Childress, Joe Terry, Jon Hauck, Rob Goodwin, Dave Stargel, Liz Freeman McCune, and Joe Southworth. In the past Nichols, Aufdemburge, Jerry Ellis, and Kathy Millen also worked here.

    Don House and John Imlay built one of the best salesforces ever and when we merged, we had Noah’s ark (two of each position) so half left and became a great network for TCS, since I had trained them there.
    MSA was the best place that one could work from about 1976 to 1986. After we went public, it was never the same. We were running the company for the stock price.
    But was a smart bunch of fun people. We can only now sneak back into some of the hotels and resorts where we partied. And the older we get, the better we were.
    We had people in software development??

  37. JE on March 10th, 2009 5:28 pm

    I worked at MSA from 1980-1982. I learned a great deal during that time about programming, sales and marketing. I remember the parties and the long hours. I worked converting the IBM code to other hardwares Univac and Burroughs wcome to mind. Loved hearing John Imlay talk. I used him as a yardstick to measure other CEO’s. Few were as good as he was. Later worked for PeopleSoft, little was said about PeopleSoft, did many a conversion from MSA to PeopleSoft in the 1990’s. Last year I did one more and saw the old MSA documentation. I still have my Keys. Best wishes to all.

  38. Lyn Elkins on March 10th, 2009 6:12 pm

    Greetings all former MSAers!

    I have often said that if I could ever go back to graduate school I have the perfect thesis topic, ‘How to take two world class software companies, combine them and run that company into the ground.’ I know that’s far too simple, but remembering some of the decisions that were made – often alienating a customer base that was fantastic and the dedicated employees that supported them – still makes me very sad.

    I did learn so much from the people there. And I miss the picnics, the long days and the focused work.

    The best lessons are that there is life after MSA/M&D/DBS/GEAC and that shared laughter, even when working all hours, makes up for many small irritations along the way.

  39. Larry Reynolds on March 10th, 2009 8:11 pm

    Some of my comments have already been stated by various MSAers, but it’s absolutely true that MSA was the best place to work in the world during the early days. I was there from 1977-1989, and I’ve been searching for another experience like that ever since. We used to jokingly call it “Camelot”, not realizing how close to the truth that was. The culture was inspiring, the atmosphere dynamic, and the people are still the most talented I have ever seen in one company.

    Among the thousands of memories that I have I think the thing that stands out the most is the incredible drive and creativity that people had to win – whatever it takes. There was a swagger, an arogance that all of the best teams exhibit, and MSA had it in spades. Competitors resented it, insulted it, didn’t understand it, but envied it. I’m just glad the memories are still so vivid.

  40. Suzanne Butts Borchert on March 11th, 2009 12:20 am

    Yes – MSA was by far the best! I worked there from 1983 to 1997 – my first real job. The end truely was the GEAC switch! I had no idea other companies were not like this and now appreciate my “up bringing” and attribute much of my current success to working for a company that expected and enabled you to excel and drive and do! Of course the lawn beer parties, Winner Cicles trips, user conferences, etc were way fun!

    The day I started with the company I was handed my silver pin and a peice of paper titled “Meet the Tiger” dated 1973 (yes, 10 years before I stared with the company!) and was told “this is what we are about”. I have this paper still…framed in my office! I read it often and share it with others. Anyone else still have this?

  41. Alan Wilson on March 11th, 2009 8:20 am

    I started with MSA in the mail room of the Southern Region working for Jeff Fisher. I think that was 1979. I met a lot of great people during my time at MSA, Rick Page, Ferrall Summerell, Mike Anthony, Herbie Eason, Al Bennett, Tom McClure, & Ralph Roberts to name a few.
    I will never forget when I was going to transfer to the print shop so I could make more $ and work overtime, and Ferrall took me aside and convinced me to take a lesser paying job, but had a future, working in the data center. That decision was probably the most important career decision I ever made. Had it not be for Ferrall’s influence and Al Bennett taking a chance by hiring me, I have no idea what I would be doing today. Thanks to them, I have had a successful career in IT. I just celebrated my 10 year anniversary with IBM.
    Boy things have changed. No company I have ever worked for was quite like MSA. Work hard play hard. Remember the Kick Off Dinners at the Fox and softball games behind Phipps! John Imaly was quite the leader.

  42. Curt Monash on March 13th, 2009 7:29 pm

    Rick,

    I only recall meeting you once in your MSA days, but you made an impression on me. Being chosen as the internal sales training lead for MSA was a heck of an honor.

    CAM

  43. André Labelle on March 19th, 2009 4:07 pm

    Greetings all former MSAers! I met so many nice people at MSA. I just wanted to say hello and merci for all the help I received thru the years.

  44. Keith Laws on April 19th, 2009 1:11 pm

    Greetings to all…so many familiar names here! My memories and feelings about the “good old days” of MSA are no different than most. There’s just not enough good I can say about my experiences. I was there from 1981 until 2007, when Infor finally gobbled up the remains and showed me the door – 26 years in all. Most definitely, MSA in the 80’s was a diamond among all employers. Having only a high school education, I was able to learn more there and advance my working experience as probably no college education could have provided. Starting in accounting, as a low-level payroll clerk, I was so very fortunate to have managers who believed in me, and were immensely responsible for so much of my longevity and success. By the end of my tenure – in our internal Human Resources dept. – I was able to attain tremendous respect and trust as our E-series payroll “expert”, though I seriously question such accolades.

    And yes, the MOST long-lasting and appreciative aspects of my MSA days are the very many good friends made, friendships to always cherish and remember. Not the least of which was the personal interest John Imlay was able to convey to everyone – from board leaders to the letter shufflers in the mail room. Truly THE class act of humanity. In a time of personal crisis in my life back then, John was instrumental in raising several thousands of dollars in assistance to my family, through employee (and company matching) contributions. That alone would be enough to inspire loyalty to any company, not to mention the MANY personal touches that were afforded everyone who worked there.

    A once-in-a-lifetime working experience that, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to exist anymore in the business world today. Many memories and so many thanks.

  45. Pat Vaughan on July 24th, 2009 8:07 pm

    Greetings to the MSA/D&B people.
    I worked in the Dallas office from 1987 to 1994, when I left to start my own company. I worked at a Utility Company before and MSA was a huge shock. I remember the first day, I arrived before 8:00 and the front door was locked and the lights were off. I thought the company had gone out of business. Bob Ataras was the first one to arrive and let me in… he said “most people wander in around 8:30 to 9:00.” That said, most people really did work hard. I really enjoyed working there, even though I had been told it would be about 50% travel which quickly turned into 100%. Not long after I started, they sent me to LCRA in Austin and I stayed for several years.
    I enjoyed the reward trips to Hilton Head and Key West… and of course the trips to Atlanta.
    It was a great time, and I still tell many stories!

  46. Dominic Chiarini on October 19th, 2009 3:06 pm

    Hei hei hei who remembers me?
    I worked at MSA from 1977 to 1984 in the Northeast region.
    Absolutely the best place to work.
    Peon from 1977 til 1982 when I became manager of the installation group in the Northeast.
    Those were the days!
    those were indeed the day when they wined and dined you down at Hilton Head (they even paid for my baby sitter!)if you made member of the King’s court!
    Imlay, House, Vohs, John Arnold, Joe Kassar, Bob Abate, Jerry Motte, Tom Bukowski from Canada, ,,, too many to mention and all good guys and gals.

  47. John Phillips on November 5th, 2009 7:55 pm

    I had the pleasure of being with MSA from 1980 to 1988, and just as so many of you have already stated, it was by far the best company I have ever worked for. The slogan ‘People are the key’ had quite an impact on all of us. It certainly made me feel that I was a big part of the success of the company – when it was successful. I agree with Rick Page that when we went public, it was the downfall of a great company. It seemed that we lost the focus at that point. It wasn’t our greed driving us, it was the stockholders greed.
    Spending about 2 years at the Southern Region with Jeff Fisher and Ferrall Summerell was the best. Mostly, I was out of my plush office onsite in client land assisting the clients with the installs. This was a great unforgettable experience. I could always count on an interesting trip. Every trip to the client was different and usually an entertaining excursion, nothing was usual. Texas to Virginia, South America, Central America, and the Caribbean was our region. GL, HR, AP, AR, FA, and the infamous Financial Forecasting and Modeling were the reasons we went on these trips.
    I remember one trip to Mexico City I will never forget. It was about 1982 and the financial transaction for the software had not been made, so I packed up the software and set it aside. Bill Graves was to call me when the software was paid for and off to the airport I would go. I arrived at Mexico city late in the evening, and checked in at the hotel. About 1:30am, my bed started to shake. I thought I hit some of the switches by the bed in my sleep, so I turned on the lights. The bed was still shaking and I peered into the closet where I had left the door open. My clothes were swinging back and forth! I opened the curtains on my 14th floor room, and I saw big pieces of the buildings across the street falling! People were screaming! It was an earthquake! 6.9 Richter. I survived by standing in the doorway, it all subsided completely in about an hour. There was not much damage to my hotel. When I met the client the next morning, of course everything was in disarray. We wondered if we could finish installing 4 products in the allotted time. I was ready to pull the plug for this week, but the client promised that there would be no more earthquakes. Why did I believe him?
    And the parties! I remember on the 2nd floor after 4 o’clock, the education center was having the cocktail hour, and everyone was invited to come by and say hi to the clients who were there for a class. And Interact! The party on steroids with entertainment provided by John Imlay and crew. Unbelievable! Oh, and I’ll never forget the kickoff parties, at the Fox and other great venues. So John Imlay and crew would take this gig on a roadshow around the world! I would like to hear stories about that. But let’s not forget those summer days at Big Canoe, sipping drinks standing in the pool after a hard days brainstorming.
    My days at Corporate were not that much different. Work hard, party hard. Late nights, early days, it was all fun (that sounds somewhat sick). Assigned to the Product Packaging Group gave me exposure to a great bunch of technical folks in all the product groups. My contacts in the regions expanded. The ISP utilities and development utilities became my reason for being there and it was great. I remember partying on the lawn and here comes a jeep with John Imlay dressed as a general AKA Patton style. The videos like the ‘Packaging Zone’ are still in my library!
    I could go on and on about how great it was, but this is getting too long already. I really just wanted to say hi to all my old friends and reminisce a bit.

  48. John Collmer on October 4th, 2010 10:47 am

    I’m working on a conversion project of MSA’s accts Rec system, I’m looking for any source, file layouts, copybooks, program compile listings.

  49. Peggy Taylor on October 27th, 2010 7:54 pm

    My employee record with MSA was the time period 1969 thru 1987. Worked as secretary to Bill Graves, who hired me, to John Arnold who left the company shortly before I did. Wonderful, wonderful years and an excellent place to work. Received all three pins: silver, gold and diamond and went to all the company parties and seminars. Loved all the great people that comprised MSA at that time. Fond memories.

  50. kathleen ann farrell on February 15th, 2011 12:35 am

    Hello all. I was so young and I was administrative support for the sales staff (including Debbie Gallagher). Flip Fullman hired me back in about 83. I was in the Santa Monica office and my goodness, did we all party. We used to go up to Lake Arrowhead once a year for our kick-off party….I wrote a very beautiful song on Lake Gregory on one of those events. I was the office musician and I actually sang for my whole office on that one particular retreat. I remember Ken McCrocklin, Bill Dominguez; Don House; gosh, we even had a salesperson (magician) who used to perform at the Ice Castle…can’t remember his name…Gayle Grace was administrative support,

  51. kathleen ann farrell on February 15th, 2011 12:37 am

    I was trying to find a friend of my back then who worked for GEAC. His name is Paul Oeuvre and I met him when I worked at Informer/GEAC. He was living sometimes in Vancouver, Canada and sometimes in LA. Does anyone know of him? I would really like to find him.

  52. Michael Rakoff on February 24th, 2011 3:47 pm

    Hi all – I stumbled accross this website and it brought a smile to my face; back in time when people were truly key. I made a career as a self-employed MSA application consultant from the late 80’s (Toronto) until the early 2000’s (NC,US). My claim-to-fame was I could do it all: installs, support, modifications. Plus I knew all the apps, security, IE, etc.,…
    What made my job easy was the great MSA support staff (Hotlanta Help Line), plus the great installers I shadowed on those 12 consecutive hour exercises that rivaled any of those reality endurance TV shows.
    Hate to sound old, but software development hasn’t improved in leaps and bounds, despite all the certifications, PMPs etc.,….
    And when it comes to application design, I still use the MSA base model.

  53. Charlie Bourland on November 3rd, 2011 11:45 am

    The company I co-founded was called Computer Systems and Education Corp in Hartford, CT. In the mid-60s we ran a service bureau for small companies and developed most of the financial systems they required to run on a batch processing basis.

    We then started a programming school with campuses in Hartford, Boston and Providence. We had 1,000 fully matriculated students. The service bureau hired the best students and placed the others in insurance companies and others.

    The students working with experienced businessmen and programmers took the original Accounts Receivable package and turned it into a (then) world class product. It was sold to many large companies such as Columbia Records, Security Pacific Bank, etc.

    Finally it was sold to MSA and became their A/R 70s package.

  54. Dennis Bell on November 25th, 2011 11:26 am

    I have always considered my experience at MSA to be the most rewarding position I held in corporate America. I joined the company in 76 and left in 85. I was part of the development and customer support staff on General Ledger, IE and the Database group.

    I was honored to be one of the charter members of the King’s Court The King’s Court was the first recognition award given to employees. To win the award you had to be nominated by customers or achieve an outstanding contribution on a technical project. The name originated from John Imlay’s notion that “the customer is king”. It was eventually evolved into the Olympian award.

    I was at the kick off party where John Imlay brought out the Tiger. As I remember the Tiger was in a uncooperative mood. The trainer was having trouble getting the big cat to do what he wanted. He announced that we should all stay still. The trainer’s crew brought out a bucket of water which seemed to make the cat more comfortable. I was at a table not far from the dance floor and was thinking that the Tiger could cover the distance between him and my table very quickly if he decided he was hungry instead of thirsty. The trainer was able to get the tiger off the stage without incident. I wasn’t aware that a lady had been bitten when they were loading the Tiger into its travel cage.

    The article stated that the MSA applications only ran on IBM hardware. That not true of all the applications. The General Ledger system also ran on Burroghs, Honewell, and DEC. It also could be run on VSAM, IMS, IDMS, or ADR Datacom DBMS. They were very clever in GL using a source code management technique that kept 90% of the COBOL code identical between all those systems.

    Several years after I left MSA I was the manager of the financial systems at Shaw industries in Dalton Georgia. Part of my responsibilities was to replace their General Ledger system which was running on Bull/Honerywell. It was astounding to learn that the system to be replaced was developed by the pre 70s Management Science Atlanta company. Shaw certainly got it monies’ worth out of that G/L system.

  55. David Noble on January 2nd, 2012 12:00 am

    Hi All MSA’ers, I worked in the Sydney office from 1986 to 1993 when the consulting division was disbanded. prior to that I was a client for five years and the President of interact Australasia for 2 years. I am looking for anyone with the implementation methodology, I have some of it but missing bits. any help would be great.

    all the best for 2012

    David

  56. David Noble on January 2nd, 2012 12:03 am

    A great company to work for and a shame it merged with M&D in 93. Dunn and Bradstreet did not know how a software company worked or what they had. It could have been the worlds best to day.

  57. Susan West on March 23rd, 2012 3:01 pm

    I used to work with at MSA. I was trying to find a friend I worked with there, Bob Hunt, when I stumbled across this thread and had to put in my two cents.
    MSA was a great compamy to work for and John Imlay was a great showman! I remember him traveling across country to the different MSA locales with bears, tigers, whatever. We sure did like to party, and he always knew the people who worked for him – who can you say that for now? People really were the key.
    I worked out of the Fort Lee NJ office from 1981-84 when I relocated to a different state. I still have my silver key. You were presented with it the day you started, and it was from Tiffany’s.

  58. Human real-time : DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on April 5th, 2012 10:12 pm

    […] The move from batch to interactive computing even on mainframes, a key theme of 1980s application software industry competition. […]

  59. Tom Smith on April 19th, 2012 9:20 pm

    Just stumbled on this site and its great to think back on the MSA days in Atlanta. MSA was my first IT job back in 1979. I was there for the switch from timeshare out of Canada and centralized terminal rooms to the big hardware on the first floor and terminals on our desks!

    BTW, y’all forgot about All Tax. Now that was some code with all the GO TO DEPENDING ON everywhere!

    I can honestly say that MSA was one of the most fun places I have ever worked, with really good people.

  60. Cindy Metz on April 26th, 2012 5:26 pm

    Hi to my fellow MSAers. I absolutely loved my time working for MSA in the Northeast region out of the Old Town Alexandria, VA office..rolling up to the Paramus, NJ office. Barb & Vinnie…you were the best!

  61. Brenda on May 9th, 2012 11:56 am

    There was a ‘portable’ version of Information Expert developed. Was that ever implemented? Just curious…

    thanks!
    Brenda

  62. Bob Hunt on July 5th, 2012 6:42 pm

    Without a doubt MSA was a brilliant company, rebuilt into an extraordinary business model in the late 70 through late 80’s. I was in the first regional CDP group in 1980, moving from NYC to Atlanta. We were so young and eager to learn. Without a doubt the people are the key was a wonderful and very appropriate way to treat employees and gain their respect and loyalty. Working in the NE Region for John Arnold, and Joe Kassar were very special to me – and would do anything for those gentlemen. After the management changes and going public – I agree the organization lost its focus. I had several software and consulting experiences after that, but none were so personally rewarding than MSA from 80-87. Also made lifelong friends and one of them recently passed on. Ron McKenzie, from the NE Region and moved to Atlanta and Paris, recently succumb to a fatal heart attack – he was a dear friend and a centerpiece of what that company was. Wishing all my ex-MSA friends all the best.

  63. Bob Hunt on July 5th, 2012 6:45 pm

    Susan Woodworth West, you can find me at rch1753@aol.com or facebook. Back in DC after a long and wonderful career in California.

    miss you as well,
    bob

  64. Charles F. Sims on August 25th, 2012 1:01 pm

    Does anyone remember the first $ 500,000 ad that MSA ran using the new IBM style logo ? What was the occasion ?

  65. bob hunt on September 15th, 2012 3:04 pm

    Just wanted to leave a brief message that a good friend had just passed on, Bob Klaus from the NJ office.

  66. Rob Goodwin on September 22nd, 2012 7:34 pm

    I am always struck by the universally fond memories everyone has about MSA. The experiences in this blog are the same as those we had from MSA Australia and in the UK too.

    In Australia, we still have the occasional reunion, and it is still well attended after the demise of MSA 22 years ago! Same with the UK group. Speaking about the “merger”, do you all still remember wearing the key inside your lapels when the wearing of them was banned by Atlanta management as “contrary to our new spirit”?

    I think there is a PhD thesis there somewhere on how NOT to manage a merger.

    I hope the spirit of MSA lives on in the way people who worked there manage their own companies/people now.

    The strongest company culture I ever experienced, and I am sure that goes for most others too.
    Some of the international characters for you to remember – Dan Schmidt, Ron McKenzie, Ria Spokes and Alain Livernoche who have sadly passed away, Gary (Marty Feldman) Corcoran, Michael (Father Christmas without the Beard) Hunt, George Koukis, Stuart (The Chairman) Walsh, Christos Astaris. The list goes on…

    What days we had!!

  67. Peyton King on January 3rd, 2013 6:45 pm

    I had the great pleasure of working at MSA in Hamden, CT during the period it was sold. I was placed there temporarily by Keane to support a BASF project. It was only my second assignment in the IT field, and I somehow wound up with a huge window office as a result of layoffs prior my arriving. I was stunned, but brought back to reality when my next assignment had me in a hallway.

    While there, I cut my teeth on COBOL and CICS, and made a life long friend. I left before the smoke cleared. The local executive leader was looking to spin the Hamden group off after the agreement to merge.

    Oddly enough in the small world scheme of things, while I was interviewing, I ran into a fellow from my college dorm at UCONN who had been a Political Science major when I last saw him and had then re-emerged as a highly skilled programmer and software project manager.

  68. ton klaver on March 18th, 2013 8:43 am

    I worked for MSA from 83 – 88 in the brussels/dutch office.
    I am looking for Danny Hael from corporate at that point of time.
    Anyone knows?

  69. anonymous on March 22nd, 2013 4:56 pm

    In response to Ton Klaver, I believe you are speaking of Dennie Haehl, originally from Chicago and relocated to Corporate in the early-mid eighties. Sadly she had retired and passed on. I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

  70. Gilles Marcoux on April 10th, 2013 2:45 pm

    Hi to all MSA alumni.
    I had the honor to become one of the first two salespersons in Canada (with Bill Ash) in the mid 70’s. We were 11 or 12 salespeople then, in all of MSA.
    Young and naive (I still am), I accepted an offer from John Imlay and Bill Graves at a breakfast in New York. John asked me if I was scared to accept an offer from a company that had just entered Chapter 11. Not knowing what Chapter 11 was, I gave him a great answer and landed the job!
    I still cherish a picture taken with a young tiger in my arms. One of John`s «motivational» ideas.
    My training, by John Arnold consisted in receiving boxes of brochures and `MSA pens’, along with the following training (verbatim) : `Wine them and dine them’. That was it. I got to go on a couple of sales calls with Bob Abate in New York, and John Fitzgibbon in Boston. Then the fun began.
    MSA has been a great experience and I keep very fond memories of all the people I met then including Bill and Onagh Ash, Bob Crochetiere, Bruce Loeffel, Vanice Cudina and several others.
    Thanks for this thread. It brought a big smile on my face.

  71. Mark Higgins on April 30th, 2013 1:19 pm

    It is fun reading all this. I worked at MSA for 5 years in various functions. My biggest accomplishment was when we ran our own payroll system at a service bureau and they kicked us out. I had about 4 days to get payroll up and running in house so that we could get paid. Everyone got paid on time but we failed to withhold for those buying stock and that was all I heard about.
    My biggest regret was that they didn’t listen to me on one issue. After the IBM PC came out and we had just bought Peachtree Software, I wanted to create a CICS program we could call, over a network, from the PC to access data on the mainframe. We were generating all the code for differnt files so it would have been the same CICS program with a differnt generated file handler for each VSAM file we accessed. But the systems analyst types from Clemson in the computer room could not understand why I wanted to develop on the PC and access the mainframe database. MSA would have been 5 to 8 years ahead of everyone. Maybe it would still be arouind.

    I too thought Imlay was great and I still have my key!
    M A R K

  72. Alain Janssens on June 1st, 2013 11:54 pm

    Hi to Bob Hunt and Ton Klaver.

    Bob, I remember you got mugged in NY and we had these cocktails at Houston’s, Tennessee trash?

    Hi Ton, any contacts with former Brussels office people?

    I worked for MSA Brussels office 80 to 89 and was hired by customer Cargolux Airlines in Luxemburg just in time before the D&B merger.

    It were great times.

    I now live retired in NorthEast Thailand since jan 2002.

    Anyone like to mail me at alainjanssens@zan.be

  73. Lauren Salzman on July 31st, 2013 4:53 pm

    Hi all,
    Worked as a graphic artist for 6 years.started out in the southeast region and then moved to the corporate office to work in the education department, went on to work as a web designer for some other great companies and then started a business with my husband … Hi to all who might remember me!

  74. Bill Cate on December 21st, 2013 5:47 am

    I was with the West Coast sales office from 1978 to 1980. Out offices were in one of the twin towers of beautiful Marina Del Ray, not too far from LA. I was with the Human Resources group, a happy band of nomads who shuffled from city to city presenting all aspects of our products to suspects, prospects and clients. Names: Dan Ozvath, Dan Garcia, Howard Smith (VP of Western Region). Can’t remember having more fun or interesting experiences than my time at MSA. Probably lucky to still be alive!

  75. Martin Brooks on April 30th, 2014 9:26 am

    Just stumbled across this article, brought back many memories of installing and supporting MSA systems at Redifusion and BP here in the UK. Great systems for their time, shame same thought hasn’t gone into some of the modern equivalents.

  76. bill renfroe on June 3rd, 2014 9:38 pm

    I was a member of the MSA Career Development Program class of January 1984. My time at MSA was a blast! I am still doing database managment work base on my experience at MSA. We worked hard and played hard. I even got to do internal travel installing software.

  77. Kelly Manning on June 27th, 2014 5:12 pm

    Trying to support MSA in the late 1980s was a nightmare.

    They insisted on using obsolete pre-XA 24 bit versions of CICS and COBOL.

    I remember one of my last weekly meetings before i found myself a different job out of frustration. A discussion of a processor upgrade came up. The MSA folks made the ridiculous suggestion that we should get some more storage to avoid the chronic Short On Storage situations with the obsolete 24 bit CICS they insisted on using.

    I gave it one last kick at the can, saying that our system programmers who came back from GUIDE, SHARE, and IMS and CICS technical confernces were hearing that IBM was desperately trying to make contact with anyone at MSA who might be able to get their head around 31 bit (XA) CICS and COBOL. IBM found that to be an exercise in futility.

  78. Kelly Manning on June 27th, 2014 5:24 pm

    The buyout by DBS allowed me to quickly resolve a series of show stopping issues with BrightView which had been roadblocked us for more than half a year.

    All the Canadian Staff were locked up in hotel ballrooms for some sort of DBS 101 satellite conference.

    That included the local MSA fellow who showed up every time I called MSA support to ask about progress on my reports of show stopping problems.

    With him out of the picture for the day I was finally able to speak directly over the phone to MSA tech support in the USA.

    They asked if I was using a virtual disk. I told them yes, their local “expert” had insisted in modifying the documented install process to use a virtual disk for some of the BrightView software.

    The USA tech folks explained that was an unsupported way of running BrightView, particularly in Software Distribution Controller mode.

    Bottom line, his involvement had costs us months of wasted time and MSA was unable to recognize that the local resource they assigned to solve our problems was the cause of the problems.

  79. Curt Monash on July 2nd, 2014 1:12 am

    MSA had many virtues, but technological leadership was rarely one of them. :)

  80. David Holt on July 6th, 2014 2:27 pm

    Wow. After reading all these great posts, I forgot how I even got to this page as I traveled back in time (1983-1985) when I was a member of Career Development Program Eight (or CDP-8 for short).

    It is hard to believe it was 30 years ago now as the names and faces came back into focus.

    MSA was the only job I interviewed for upon completion of my BBA/MIS at the University of Georgia. I had heard that it was “the only place to work” in the computer industry at the time. (Had I known it was run by a bunch of “Georgia Techies” I might not have even applied… glad I didn’t know that fact at the time!)

    The recruiters told me they were to interview 600 college graduates to select the 16 members of CDP-8. (Prior to this group, I believe the CDP classes were about half that size.) I was honored to be asked for a first and second interview at the “Pink Palace” located at 3445 Peachtree Street.

    My second interview visit consisted of a series of short one-on-one visits with people that lived in corner offices. I knew they were important because they were in corner offices overlooking Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza. When i was asked by one interviewer “where do you want to be in 5 years?”, I told him I wanted to be sitting in his desk in this corner office. He smiled, shook my hand and ushered me to the next interview. (I later learned that he was Pat Tinley.)

    I received my silver key (which I still have today, thank you very much) on my first day as the CDP class was being assembled for the first time in one of the larger training rooms. It was truly an honor to put that pin on the lapel of my blue pin-stripe suit.

    Our CDP class was large because the company had purchased Peachtree Software (the company) from Ben Dyer and we were venturing into ways to make the MSA systems cooperate with these new-fangled microcomputers. MSA planned to send half of us into the Peachtree group and the other half into the MSA side of the business.

    While still in CDP (it was a 6-month program) I was asked to be the official photographer for a small fund raiser meeting at Bill Graves’ house. (I was always taking pictures during our CDP events so Alma Sanders (our CDP ‘sponsor’) recommended me for the task. As I pulled up to the Graves’ home off West Paces Ferry Road, I saw Fran Tarkenton getting out of his car. (He was a pretty rude guy that day!) He was there to speak with some folks about raising money for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and I got to take all the pictures! Pretty cool assignment!

    When CDP was finished, I was assigned to the MSA side and my first office included an Epson QX-10 microcomputer sitting next to my IBM 3279 terminal. Our product group was focused on “micro-mainframe integration” and we were tasked with coming up with ways to extend MSA functionality out to the micro world. (Remember when Imlay brought a System 34 out in a casket at the Fox?)

    Soon, I had a “top secret” version of an early IBM PC (64KB or RAM, a 360KB 5-1/4″ floppy and a 10MB hard disk) and was told to never leave my office unlocked! (I took the cover off and saw that the there were lots of wires all over the place – obviously not a production machine yet!)

    We had fun coming up with ways to create decks of “virtual 80 column cards” on the PC then shooting them over to the MSA batch front-end using acoustic couplers, Hayes 1200 baud modems, TAC/IRMA boards and all sorts of “high tech” gadgetry.

    One day, we were summoned to the 5th floor demo room where Dennis Vohs did a short demo of a new “windows” operating system. “This is the future” he said. It was such a dog, we all looked at each other and thought Vohs was crazy. “Nobody will use this stuff because it is too slow and clunky. They will have to come up with some much faster computers to make this dog work right….” The demo was performed on an IPM PC/AT (80286 8mhz processor with 1MB RAM) (Little did we know…)

    I got to travel around North America doing demos of the micro-mainframe stuff visiting the offices in Toronto, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Lee, Los Angeles and who knows where… It was a lot of fun for a young guy right out of college a few years!

    Some of the people I remember most from those days included John McCarthy, Roger Malloch, Frank Hasty, Larry Smart, Pat Tinley, Ty Yoshimura, Dennis Vohs, Don House, Doug McIntyre, John Imlay, Alan Herbin, Ben Dyer, Bob Davis, Joe Southworth, Bill Schull, Sherri Forthman, Becky Sweat, Caroline Phillips, Susan, Keith and Henry (can’t remember their last names right now.) Where are they now???

    Upon leaving MSA, I started a small custom software/consulting business (H2 Solutions) with fellow MSAer, Alan Herbin. We later sold the company to former MSAer, John McCarthy.

    My time at MSA was off the chart. I loved every minute of it! People really were the key to their success at the time!

  81. Curt Monash on July 6th, 2014 7:43 pm

    Hi David,

    Thanks for sharing!

    One oddity in your story — the idea that the IBM PC was so secret. It was launched in 1981 (and I was present).

    As for the Georgia/Georgia Tech bit — Bill Graves told me that when somebody transferred from Georgia Tech to Georgia, both student bodies were upgraded. :D

  82. Jo Bowman on July 28th, 2014 10:53 am

    I worked with MSA from 1976-1994 started out on the phones filing whatever under Margie Kimbrough. I started working with clients who were coming in for training on the payroll and personal systems and then the user

  83. Jo Bowman on July 28th, 2014 11:03 am

    Sorry, phone rang and I goofed up. Worked in the meeting planning department with Marsha Reynolds, Kerry Coxsworth. I worked with SUPPS, WUPPS,CUPPS and NUPPS

  84. Marvin Morris on August 14th, 2014 12:58 pm

    What wonderful memories. MSA was my PhD in business. I was a salesman 1979-1982 in NJ working for John Arnold. I still remember President Clubs in Hawaii. Renting yachts, helicopters.. It was special. My business successes later in life was directly influenced by my MSA years.

  85. John King on September 3rd, 2014 2:38 pm

    I was a customer for 3 years before joining MSA. Northwest Pipeline in SLC; Frontier Airlines in DEN; Alyeska Pipeline in Anchorage; I worked in the LA office on the Payroll/Personnel system from Aug 77-May 79; John Neilson, Jackie (??), Nancy Harris, Dan Ozvath, Bill Cate, Howard Smith.
    Transferred to ATL to install a new S/370 CPU; loaded VM, DOS/VS, and OS/VS1 and later added DOS/VSE; Phil Ross came in and we added a 3081 and MVS. Phil Craven, Mike Anthony and Tom (??) were also on the systems staff. I left in Feb 81. John Imlay gave me tickets to the Atlanta Classic Golf Tournament – forgot to tell me that Cobb County was dry on Sunday – I couldn’t even buy a beer! Great company; great memories; and I still have my Key

  86. John King on September 5th, 2014 10:04 pm

    Correction – that was a 303x not a 3081 in 1979.
    Also worked with Jean Bratigam – she was married to Al; Tom Williamson was in Systems Support;
    Memory goes to hell as I get older!
    JDK1052@comcast.net

  87. sharon dennison on October 8th, 2014 7:50 am

    Marketing Assistant MSA Dallas office 1986-1990. Loved the success of this company in Dallas just out of college. Still keep in touch with a few. Joanne patton wes Calloway Mike o’berry Joe terry….good group of people. Anyone else from that time frame in dallas?

  88. PHILIP OBRIEN on October 12th, 2014 10:51 am

    Dominic Chiarini. . .I REMEMBER YOU. I LENT U THE TILE CUTTER. LORD, THATS A HUNDRED YEARS AGO. LEFT THE COMPANY IN 85 TO START SEVERAL CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES. MADE AND LOST SMALL FORTUNES IN THE REAL ESTATE BUSINESS. BEEN ONE HELL OF A EXPERIENCE.
    I STARTED WITH MSA IN 73, THEY GAVE ME A SHITLOAD OF MANUALS AND SAID GO OUT THERE AND TRAIN PEOPLE. WHAT?? WHAT A CRAZY TIME. FERRAL, MIKE IN PAYROLL, ARNOLD, YOU, AN ENDLESS LIST OF GOOD PEOPLE. MSA CHANGED WHEN IT WET PUBLIC. PEOPLE LIKE YOU, MYSELF, AND A HANDFUL OF OTHERS IN THE 70’S MADE THE COMPANY. PEOPLE HIRED IN THE 80’S REAPED THE BENEFITS OF OUR LABOR. THEY WILL NEVER KNOW HOW HARD WE WORKED TO KEEP THE COMPANY AFLOAT DURING THE EARLY YEARS. AMEN

  89. Ann Bartlett (now Beal) on October 31st, 2014 10:55 pm

    I was hired out of EDS in Dallas when I am moved to Santa Monica to get married in 1987. I was hired and worked with Richard McAndrew VP and Ken Barwick, President. I also loved my time there. MSA paid me twice as much as EDS, and I didn’t work overtime. I loved teaching clients the software and especially loved the group dynamics in the Santa Monica office. I loved traveling to training all over the US, and especially loved the parties. The New Years party on the Queen Mary was such a blast. Eventually things began changing after Ken Barwick’s sudden departure. I was heart broken to come in one day and be told he was gone. He just disappeared. Apparently left to head up another company. And then the layoffs started not too long after. It was all so sad. But aside from that, my training and experience at MSA were life changing and set me on a great road of continued success.

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