February 12, 2011

Sterling Commerce predecessor company Management Horizons Data Systems (MHDS)

I started drafting this post along with others around the time of my parents’ deaths, then put it aside. However, I have been informed that my father’s old colleague Alton Doody has cancer himself, and if we are ever to get his input, it would be best to solicit it REALLY SOON. 🙁 So I’m finishing this up now as best I can.

Here’s the part I know from my own memories as

My father moved to the Columbus area in 1973 to join Management Horizons, a consulting firm serving retailers. Management Horizons had its own spin-out already, a time-sharing company called Management Horizons Data Services (MHDS), with which it still shared a building on what is now Old Henderson Road in Upper Arlington. And, this being a world full of coincidences, MHDS is very on-topic for the primary focus of this blog (software industry history).

MHDS’ main business was a full suite of what we might now call ERP for distributors and/or retailers. That never amounted to much. But its secondary business was an electronic interchange for direct placement of orders, called Ordernet. Ordernet turned into Sterling Commerce, a > $1/2 billion company that has been acquired for >$1 billion more than once.

The chain of events, roughly, is: 

At that point I forget the details, but a couple of multi-billion dollar acquisitions/divestitures have ensued.

Some day I may dig out the numbers for Informatics’ revenue breakdown in the early 1980s. Ordernet wasn’t big, but looked like a rising star. MHDS  classic wasn’t big either, and didn’t look like it was going anywhere. Both appearances were later born out.

Online research uncovered some other sources, namely:

On pages 18-19, the Werner Frank link notes that Informatics acquired MHDS in what sounds like 1974, from then-owner Citibank. MHDS was doing $7.8 million in revenue (which Frank failed to break out among its two business segments), was acquired for $3.4 million, and apparently brought a $3.3 million long-term contract along with it, as well as a cheap loan.

Unfortunately, Davidson’s history* is inaccurate in some details I can check from memory. E.g. it says the Doody Company was created in 1974, which is too early, and it omits Informatics General from the history of MH’s information processing division. It also includes Aetna in the list of outfits that owned MHDS, which is news to me and also, apparently, to Werner Frank.

*As I write this, another copy is available for sale on Amazon. Just Google on “History of Management Horizons.” Yes, we paid around $20 for my copy too, even though there’s a $0.99 price tag on it clearly crossed out. 🙂

Anyhow, Davidson wrote:


28 Responses to “Sterling Commerce predecessor company Management Horizons Data Systems (MHDS)”

  1. A software marketing pitch from 1972 | Software Memories on February 12th, 2011 1:44 pm

    […] the process of researching my recent post on Management Horizons Data Systems, I came across an excerpt from a 1972 marketing brochure (quoted in the “History of […]

  2. Jim Klun on March 4th, 2011 12:02 am

    Started as tech intern in Mhds datacenter in 78. 33 years later – through Informatics, Sterling Software, Sterling Commerce, SBC, and ATT -I now find myself an IBM employee. I know little of the actual origins of the company. This helps a lot! Need more.

  3. Daughters of William D. Plumb on August 9th, 2011 1:10 pm

    Why is there no mention of our Dad? He was the founder of Ordernet and is widely acknowledged as the one person who single-handedly developed the business of EDI before the term had even been coined–reference from the EDI Forum in two issues: one that identified him as the leading “EDI Entrepreneur Extrordinare” and the second in 1995 that was entitled, “In Memorium to William D. Plumb.” That issue reiterated that it was our father who started Ordernet out of his home office desk drawer at the end of his tenure at MHDS, throughout his years at Informatics, and after their acquisition by Sterling Software. It is so sad to us that our dad started what is now electronic commerce. His business concept was precisely what drove the acuisition of MHDS by Informatics, followed by the acquisition by Sterling Software. His business created skyrocketing revenue that established Sterling Software as the leader in this industry in the U.S. Sam Wyly notes in his book that Ordernet caught his attention as a sleeping giant. After Ordernet, which our dad was always the President of, became visible as the product that was the backbone of Sterling Software, the stock grew 400% in one year. He then was sent to London to establish Sterling (Mr. Samuel Wyly thought Sterling Commerce sounded better than Ordernet) as an international giant. What no one knew, including us at 9 and 10 and our Mom, was that in ’93 he’d be promoted to be Pres. of the Sterling Software International Group and also diagnosed with incurable cancer. Our world collapsed in a year and a half. He managed a stunning expansion of the business throughout the world, but we buried him in Scotland in 1995. He was only in his mid-50s. Our family will never, ever forget him, but all of the histories told about the beginning of an industry that transformed the world do not mention his name. Sterling Williams, on the day he died, wrote to all staff that the one person who drove Sterling Software and then Sterling Commerce to dominate this global industry was our Dad. He was bigger than life, he left a huge vacuum. But plenty of people stepped in to take credit for what he did; he created lots and lots of millionaires, but we as a family received nothing. We still today want: 1) to have had our dad be with us while we grew up–and now, too; 2)to know that he is remembered, 3) that he was given his due place in the incredible success story he scripted, and 4) we wish our Mom had not had to work herself to death in a futile attempt to keep us out of the world of poverty.

  4. Curt Monash on August 13th, 2011 9:18 pm

    Thank you for sharing your Dad’s story!

  5. Bob Schulz on January 1st, 2012 1:03 am

    While completing my PhD in Business(Marketing) at Ohio State(1971), I was hired by Bill Davidson and Alton Doody as a consultant with Management Horizons, starting about June 1969 and was transferred to MHDS in about January 1970, as Director of Management Education.

    From 1970 through June 1973, I developed and delivered something like 21 different
    North American regional computer conversion/implementation training programs for about 25 people at a time for about 2,000 different managers from about 100 MHDS clients and am very familiar with the MHDS history up to June 1973. Since July 1, 1973 I have been a Professor of Strategic Management at the University of Calgary.

    Of course, I was very familiar with the MHDS software and applications, worked an average of 87 hours per week, and at age 28 or so, enjoyed
    working with an incredible group of MHDS people.

    In my opinion, MHDS was running centralized batch teleprocessing 25 years before the internet.

    In my opinion, over the past 40 years there has NEVER been any ERP middleware that can compare to the ease of training, conversion, or powerful profitable use as the MHDS software. Further, MHDS did not need Sharepoint or any other software to knit database(s) together.

    My recollection is that Citibank focused on using the MHDS computers for overnight processing of American Express transactions.

    In my opinion, Citibank never saw that the MHDS software provided an opportunity to control, at a minimum, the information flows, banking, credit, and management consulting for at least the entire wholesale and retail hardware, grocery, drug, sporting goods, and industrial supply industries for the whole world.

    In late 1972, I saw the Citibank takeover coming.
    My recollection is that I announced my resignation on independently the same 1973 May day as the Citibank announcement to buy 100% of MHDS.

    My recollection is that I was the first among something like 45 of the top 50 MHDS people who resigned in the next 8 months, which gutted the core MHDS business, and did not leave much expertise or experienced people for Informatics or anyone else.

    MHDS was never the same after Citibank starting taking over in 1973. So, it is no surprise that MHDS morphed into Ordernet or other software after 1973, as 95% of the original amazing team of about 50 people who understood and synergistically executed on the Davidson/Doody MHDS vision had left.

    My recollection is that the Citibank managers who came in to run MHDS said that the 9 top programmers who developed the MHDS software in 18 months would have required 500 programmers for 5 years in New York. Or, as history has shown over the past 40 years, the powerful MHDS software/middleware has never been duplicated so far–but perhaps in the next decade in India or China.

    Bob Schulz

  6. Cary Scofield on February 24th, 2012 10:29 am

    Noticed the mention of Ordernet in the above history and comments. I was one of the original programmers for Ordernet. One of our first applications was the transmission of orders for Type II narcotics. In particular, if memory serves me right, our first customer was Smith-Kline-French.

  7. Randy Murray on September 30th, 2012 9:37 am

    I worked directly with William Plumb and it’s a shame that he’s not better recognized. Not only was he the father of EDI, but he is the one that coined the term ecommerce (although at the time it had nothing to do with consumer sales and online stores).

    Bill was a true visionary and business leader. More than that, Bill was one of the best business managers and truly thoughtful executives that I have ever known. Bill knew the names of everyone that worked for them and had the special gift (or organizational secrets) to always remember everyone’s birthday!

    Bill Plumb was more than an EDI pioneer. He was one of the unsung heros of what is now the modern era of ecommerce.

  8. Darwin Busa on December 3rd, 2012 5:12 pm

    I worked with Bill Plumb for a number of years and he was one of the finest, if not the finest person I ever met. One of my last encounters with Bill was when he was heading up the Sterling Commerce International operations not long before he died. He was hosting a distributors conference in London in and I was attending as a representative of the Communications Software Group of Sterling Commerce. My wife and I decided to take a vacation co-incident with the conference and she joined me at the opening meet-and-greet session. Upon arriving we ran into Bill and I introduced him to my wife. We chatted for a few minutes before he indicated he wasn’t feeling well and excused himself. A few hours later we ran into Bill again and he immediately greeted my wife by name and took back up with the prior conversation. I did not know it at the time but Bill was quite ill and when he excused himself had actually left the event to get some rest. The fact that he was an outstanding host and remembered my wife’s name after meeting her once was not something extraordinary for Bill, he had a real knack for that. What was amazing was his continued ability to do so under the circumstances of his illness. I remember a friend who worked for Bill hearing from him about his illness saying to him and I paraphrase, Damn it, you can’t die. You are the best boss I ever had. I can’t think of a more fitting epitaph.

  9. David Meade on July 27th, 2013 8:20 am

    I enjoyed my work at MHDS in 1972, 73 and 74 in finance and project management of the company itself — worked for David Revis. Also, assisted Fred Ragusa who was head of Sales and did some work with Cy Wilson and Max Gould (from Citicorp)and others.

    Great company with lots of talent and excellent software offering.

  10. Tom Thornton on April 22nd, 2014 10:16 pm

    I was one of the early ‘field systems consultants’
    hired & trained to install the original system which included order entry, invoicing, accounts receivable, accts payables and general accounting. It was sold first to numerous hardware wholsalers in the us & Canada. It originally was punch card input via phone line terminal to Columbus data center where order info was turned around within minutes to print pickings slips for the mdes, picking results were entered and invoices were printed in time foe invoices to depart with mdse to hardware store. System included mdse forecasting system for buying (that info was passed to mfgr at night which folded into ‘order net’) Bryon Carter from NCR did the original selling. Was soon expanded to the drug wholesaler and then grocery. It was expensive and users were constantly asking for tweaks ,in addition punched cards become obsolete and input was into a small computer on site with batch on line transmission. I think company sort of defaulted on its startup loan & City Bank took over. If anyone wants more email me and I’ll try
    and recall

  11. Pierre Clouthier on May 16th, 2014 2:15 pm

    I worked for an MHDS customer in Calgary ca. 1978. See “http://kyber.ca/rants/UNIVAC%20history-4.php”

  12. Michael Superczynski on September 28th, 2014 6:02 pm

    So glad I stumbled across this.
    I worked at MHDS from Sept 71 to Aug 81. I was employee 158 (IIRC).
    I initially coded Reader/Interpreter forms (Bob Shultz had my dad, Al and I working the day of our interview. Thanks Bob!!!!! I actually used Byron Carter’s desk that day.
    I graduated to SCAP Coordinator, worked in Operations for a few years and finally pushed my way into a COBOL programming job in DDPS coding COBOL and TCL on the Honeywell minicomputer over in the office building. Sadly, I became disillusioned with the company and left for an Programmer Analyst/Lead at The Ohio State University Hospital Computer Center.
    Now I write software for iOS and have an app in the iTunes App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/superscanner!/id563421584?mt=8
    Check it out and help out an old MHDSer in his retirement! 🙂

  13. Curt Monash on September 28th, 2014 6:45 pm


    I liked Byron, and was sad when he blew his brains out. Altogether too many people I’ve known chose to die that way. 🙁

    His view of career choice was pick the company you want to work for and worry about the job responsibilities later, starting if need be in the proverbial mailroom. For him that was NCR, as he wanted to be trained in sales.

  14. Rich Sheely on May 15th, 2015 11:42 am

    This was a trip down memory lane for me. I started at MHDS in 1971 (Bob Schulz recruited me from an MBA intra-mural basketball league at OSU) and was there until 1986. All the names in this article and the replies bring back fond memories of my first job.

  15. Pat Jones on May 16th, 2015 7:39 am

    This was definitely a trip down memory lane. And so many of the names mentioned above we there during my tenure. I joined MHDS in 1975 as a secretary in the Data Center. At that time, I knew nothing about data processing; however, management gave me the opportunity to learn. Within months I was “promoted” to SCAP coordinator (preceding Mike Supercinski)and moved over to the “other” (office) building. As my career moved to On-line Systems specialist, Output/writer Specialist and then to Field System Consultant, I definitely have fond memories of Bill Plumb. As his career also blossomed, I remember he insisted that all managers know and call his employees by their first name. When Bill made a visit to the Columbus facilities after his promotion to London to establish an international position (early 1990s), we met in the hall and he called me by my first name. It was only just one example of his personality and management style.
    With the success of the Ecommerce products and the dissolution of the distribution entity, I became an instructor of and consultant for the GENTRAN product for the mini computer (AS400, UNIX) client base.
    I spent 20 years with MHDS/ Informatics/ Sterling Software, and have very fond memories of my career there and the people with whom I worked. I can’t say enough good things about the management I had during my tenure there. And Bill Plumb set the example for all of them.

  16. Gerry Moersdorf on May 22nd, 2015 11:30 am

    I just found you guys with a websearch. I was the DEC minicomputer guy and along with WG Hutchison built the online order entry system which was customer located and made orders look like batch jobs to the IBM mainframe. Wow the names in here brought back memorys. I left around 75 and started my own businesses, but i have so many memorys and storys including almost getting fired in the toronto airport.

  17. Dan Priedeman on June 18th, 2015 8:13 am


    I am considering organizing a reunion of former MHDS folks. The plans are still very fluid – most likely in Columbus OH, and possibly sometime between early August and mid September of 2015.

    So far, I have contacted Tom Hoover, Rich Sheely, Tom Rottmeier, Pat Jones, Cecil Kearney, Win Wiksell, Marv Lund and Cy Wilson. I’ve heard from Pierce Issacs and Gary Sweany. I sent a snail mail to Warner Blow. If any of you have any other MHDS contacts, pass on my inquiry.

    Contact me, Dan Priedeman, at the email below. About July 10th, I’ll look at the list of those interested and make a go/no go decision.

    Dan Priedeman (MHDS 1970 to 1985, Field System Consulting)
    4604 Sandringham Drive
    Columbus OH 43220

  18. Charles Johnson (Chuck) on June 18th, 2015 7:56 pm

    I initially worked in the accounting department and then moved to become an FSC (Field Systems Consultant).

    I can’t remember how many Customers I helped convert to the MHDS system but remember logging a lot of air-miles and having a great time working with the amazing staff at MHDS.

    The talent pool at MHDS was incredible and unforgettable.

    I remember taking part in one of the user-group meetings in Columbus. My presentation was on the Strategic Profit Model and I followed one of Bill Plumbs fantastic cutting edge presentations.

    I currently live in the Orlando, FL area and interested in attending a reunion.

  19. Deborah Knight on February 14th, 2017 2:18 pm

    Thank you so much for this history! In the early 1980s, I worked as a young writer at a retail ad agency in Canada, and often depended upon the research created by Management Horizons to give me a better understanding of the market. I once had the opportunity to attend a presentation by them in Toronto, and they could see how excited I was by their predictions for the retail industry…so much so that they invited me to attend the next day’s presentations for free. I was elated! 20 years later, I was living in the US, and working with Sterling Commerce in Columbus, OH without having a clue that it had started as MHDS, the company that had helped me so much in the past. Now, after almost 35 years, I am once again involved with with Sterling, as a contractor to IBM. Funny how I’ve crossed paths with this organization throughout various stages of my career, while living in different cities in different countries and in so many different roles.

  20. Holden John Coy on February 21st, 2017 2:30 pm

    It’s so interesting to come across this site and all the memories of MHDS. I was a very young management associate at Citibank and visited MHDS often for training on their ERP system which we adapted at Citicorp to inventory all our stationery, business forms and office supplies. The thing I found fascinating was what they called the “SOQ” or “suggested order quantity” and how that was developed based on frequency of use, turns in the warehouse and so on. It replaced a very rudimentary system previously used that had a fixed quantity – literally, when inventory reached this fixed value, a bell would ring and a “terminal” much like a teletype machine would start to rev up and crunch out a preliminary purchase order. MHDS’ system was based on what we later studied in MBA school as the EOQ or economic order quantity with some tweaks.

    We ended up using MHDS since it was now in the Citi “family” and it gave us insight into how other clients deployed the system for their purposes. My recollection is similar to Tom Thornton’s above – it was explained to me that MHDS was a “loan gone bad” so Citi decided to take its interest in the company and use the product for its own purposes. At the time, the system was geared for Hardware and Drug Wholesalers and we had to do quite a bit of adaptation to make it “fit” our needs at the bank but it worked nicely. Things like picking tickets at our huge warehouse now popped out with shelf locations and aisles in order – made order picking so much more efficient. The team effort between our Forms Control, Purchasing and Warehousing units was a lot of fun for me as a young kid on his first job.

    The other thing was rather than have a big keypunch operation (remember those?) we used some of the first “intelligent terminals” for data collection and this put their 80-column card format into a screen that was more product friendly and then converted that order information into the 80-column format that MHDS would need. Those were pretty much the first computers, we’re talking 1974 or so at this point. Sending the data from Purchasing to MHDS, we used a “leased line” and because it was single rather then full-duplex, we had a switch we would “throw” into “send” mode. We then sent the data which was stored on cassette tapes by the Datapoint terminals and off it went. We would then put the switch into “receive” mode and magically (to me) the line printer (remember those huge “drum” printers with the green bar paper?) would start to print the results of our transmission, reports, etc. Was all very fascinating and I met many terrific MHDS people who were so intelligent. This was a great first major project for me and it really benefited the bank. Eventually we created commodity codes that allowed the Purchasing staff to bulk buy forms, for example, grouping together all 8-1/2 by 11 black and white forms in such a way that the vendor could discount the purchase due to set up time on the press being the same for all the forms, even though they may have had different purposes. All the “snap sets” with carbons (remember the old credit card slips?) could be bid out together… was really a great way to buy as well as to inventory and then distribute.

    I saw the name Tom Hoover above, I do remember him, also we had a great FSC (Field System Consultant) John Moldovan who later moved to Virginia and then to Arizona. Great guy, so patient with our team who were from so many different fields and initially somewhat hesitant about change. We kept in touch for many years and I always enjoyed our conversations about those days. I remember the names Chuck Johnson, Tom Thornton, Rich Sheely, and I believe Dan Priedeman you may recall the Citibank gang. I know we were the odd people using a Hardware and Drug system for stationery and office supplies, but it worked with some tweaks here and there. Product is product after all, the computer didn’t care what it was as long as the logic worked and the users configured their system to reflect their requirements.

    What fun to think of this again! Some of you may remember me as “John” Coy, I went by my middle name then so I put my full name above. Others from our team were Bob Moore (systems), Tom Cahill (warehouse and distribution) , Gertrude Smith (purchasing) and Jim Farrell ran our unit, Materials Management. It was a great group and I learned so much that was useful later in my career doing other systems implementations such as General Ledger and Accounting, also numerous Human Resources systems.

    Hope to hear more of your memories, and if there is anything I can answer in terms of questions from the group, don’t hesitate to ask. My email: holden.coy@cox.net

  21. Nancy Vetter on December 4th, 2017 12:07 am

    I was trying to recall the name of the street that Management Horizons was located.. I married John Vetter in August 1970 and in January 1972we moved from Cinti to Columbus because John was hired By Management Horizons. Most of the early programmers were former Kroger employees.. I remember Carl Kolwalke, can’t think of Huddleston’s first name nor can I recall the names of others.. but someone said these early programmers probably worked 60-80 hrs a week and they are right! John and I moved to Slidell LA in 1975 after he received an offer to manage the data/computer/software at a bank in New Orleans!

  22. Michael Superczynski on December 12th, 2017 4:44 pm

    To Nancy Vetter:
    MHDS was located at 1651 Northwest Professional Plaza.
    Huddleston’s first name was Dave.
    Other programmers were Randy Rowekamp, Terry Lowder, Ken Graves. More but I don’t recall them.

  23. James Caldwell on August 29th, 2018 6:36 pm

    Does anybody remember Jack Gray, Bill Clark or Fred Polozo. Also the print building on Freeway Drive?

  24. Ted on November 11th, 2018 10:15 pm

    Good evening to all you Management Horizons. Management Horizons Data Systems (formerly Computer Horizons) folks. I was hired by Alton Doody and Bill Davidson in December of 1969 as employee number 25 (I believe). We were then located on Route 33, Scioto River Road. before the move the Henderson Road.

    In answer to James Caldwell who I do not remember, I do remember Jack Gray. I was on my way to buy an Opel when he told me about the Datsun 240Z which I then when out and purchased.

    I noticed Gary Philbrick’s name did not come up in the listing of key people above. Gary was responsible for hiring all the original systems people and remarked in a project meeting one Saturday that because his last hire was an intern at Kroger – he had hired everyone else and was now picking up the interns that Kroger put a contract out him. Jokingly of course.

    I still have photos of Randy, Carl, Terry, Ken, Cy, and Charlie Schmidt (a former partner of mine in a mini herd of Herefords). The early marketing guys of Fred Ragusa and Royal Elmore were drinking friends of mine.

    I was there when the controller, can’t remember his name, went off the deep-end and had not posted the books in over a year and simply created false financials – unfortunately those which were given to FNCB. Upon being discovered, Byron and board hiredJim Wentzel from Ernst and Young came in and took over as controller.

    Tom Hoover and Roy Pike were the leaders of a law suit against MH for the loss of value of our stock options when MHDS was hijakced by the bank. Since I was the first employee to resign immediately upon the take-over by Citibank (then First National City Bank of New York), Tom and Roy asked me to put my name on the the suit as the lead plaintiff so their names (still employees) were not so obvious.

    It was in my office that IBM signed the largest check for a refund in their history – due to the failure of the dual 350-155s and their inability to keep up with our processing demands.

    Bob Schultz I remember well. Originally as a PhD Candidate and then on the team beginning in 1970 or 1971. A very driven guy and a great educator.

    Count me in for any reunion.


  25. Ray Collins on February 21st, 2019 4:02 am

    This was a trip down memory lane for me. I started at MHDS in 1971 (Bob Schulz recruited me from an MBA intra-mural basketball league at OSU) and was there until 1986. All the names in this article and the replies bring back fond memories of my first job.

  26. Nickie Plumb on August 14th, 2019 11:45 pm

    It was interesting to hear all the comments about my brother-in-law William Plumb of Ordernet fame. Bill was taken from us at an early stage of life due to terminal cancer. He was quite the business man and true crowd worker. Could always remember names, which is so important.

    His only son Matthew V. Plumb has been stricken with terminal kidney cancer stage iv at the age of 51. He is married with one 8 year old daughter. He was told 3 weeks ago that there were no more treatment options left. So, at this point just trying to keep him as comfortable as possible. My daughter, Tessa Plumb Roberts, (Matts cousin) set up a “GO FUND ME” page for him under PLUMB STRONG. He is now on disability and finances are a challenge. If anyone would like to donate any amount it would be appreciated. I know if you knew Bill Plumb and cared about him, you would difinately love Matthew. He is a teacher at a private school in Annapolis and was able to work a full year with very few days off due to his treatments. His students have left very inspiring messages for him on Facebook about how he changed their lives and made a difference in their careers. They all have donated and were proud to have been asked to help. Please pass this message on to anyone that knew Bill Plumb. Feel free to contact me personally at my email address—-plumbarama@verizon.net Thank you in advance for any support no matter how small or large. It will certainly make a difference to the on going struggles he is facing. ♥♥♥♥ Nickie Plumb

  27. Ron Pettry on August 27th, 2020 3:15 pm

    I knew Jim Wentzel the new controller and he recommended I join MHDS. In 1972 I was hired as a Field Systems Consultant based in Columbus Ohio. I travel extensively and was primarily responsible for bring live Banks Miller Supply of Huntington WV, a coal mining supply company..
    My manager, a good guy, (sorry don’t recall his name) flew his own private airplane to customer meetings and I frequently traveled with him. It was an older plane with radial engine that was so loud it was impossible to converse in the plane. After a few months it was clear the business model was flawed as the more customers were brought onboard the more money we lost.
    Less than a year after I left MHDS I read in the Columbus Dispatch that my former manager had crashed his plane and died leaving behind two wives and two families.
    Sad in all respects.
    I went on to work at IBM, Oracle and founded and sold my own Consulting Company. I learned much at MHDS.

  28. Michael Superczynski on August 24th, 2022 10:32 pm

    Here’s an amusing story about a company Ketchum Distributors (subscriber 049-01-02-01). I left MHDS for a short while to try my luck there. Read the story and you’ll see why I didn’t stay.
    I worked with this minicomputer back in 1977 when I worked at Ketchum Distributors on Cassady Avenue.
    It was a real joke! First off, there was no text editor included with the system. You had to open a input file using a special key, open an output file using another special key, then read the input file by pressing the key, make changes, then write the record out using the second key! Inserting records was a real pain. I don’t remember how to do it. Deleting records was similarly difficult. I begged my boss to get an 80 column card reader but to no avail. The thing came equipped with 64kb and a 10 mb disk drive consisting of a single platter mounted vertically. There were no directories and a fixed file limit, initially set to 512 IIRC. If you needed more files, the disk had to be backed up, the directory limit increased and then the disk had to be restored. Of course, we didn’t have a tape drive so we had to call the vendor when this needed to be done. The diskette drive took 8-1/2” single sided floppys. It was very unreliable and diskettes would get stuck in the drive constantly. So I didn’t bother with them.
    Of course, the OS ran in real mode and had a penchant for crashing at the worst times. When this happened any open output files were reset so they appeared to be empty. The users would get very upset when this happened and of course I had to take the brunt of their displeasure. I had to go to each terminal and use a program called FIXNAR, (Fix Next Available Record) to visually inspect each file and reset the record pointer to the correct record.
    God I hated this system! I didn’t stay very long at the company because I figured life was too short to put up with this nonsense.
    The guy who was our computer operator (actually just a card reader and printer jockey) was a drunk and used to go out to lunch and come back drunk as a skunk. The boss didn’t do anything about it.
    Funny story. I went to technical school in Xichigan for training. There were rows of tables with a system on the floor to the left of each table. Once somebody tripped on one of the systems and knocked it on it’s side, destroying the data on the disk. LOL!
    Soon after this I returned to MHDS and resumed my career.

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