01 - Early Sixties

Document created by lindajcasey on Mar 1, 2011Last modified by lindajcasey on Jun 13, 2014
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In the EARLY 60's, B.F. Goodrich Chemical Corporation (BFGCC) acquired a GE-200 system in an attempt to automate more of its data processing functions. Systems were developed using GECOM, a COBOL like language of General Electric for the GE-200. The early compiler had a number of problems and some of the fellows at BFGCC had provided considerable insight in helping GE debug the software, and over time a good working relationship developed. When IDS became available, Dick Schubert (BFGCC IS staff) realized that this could be a powerful tool in developing on-line systems.
IDS, Integrated Data Store, was designed by Charlie Bachman for General Electric to run on their GE-635 Mainframe under their GECOS operating system. IDS for the GE-200 was a primitive data base manager. It allowed a single file only for the database and had no tools for table generation so they had to be hand coded in assembler. Mistakes in coding the tables combined with bugs in the IDS code itself were a rich source of fatal errors that caused the system to crash, several times a day. BFGCC was not able to bring up a production system with GE's version of IDS due to its unreliability.
Eventually, BFGCC offered to help debug the software if GE would have no objection. B.F. Goodrich bought the rights and converted it to run on the IBM family of mainframes and renamed it IDMS in the process.IDS for the GE-200 was written in the language of the General Assembly Program (GAP). This assembler had no DSECTS, no macros and no cross-reference. In addition, there were no EXTRN type addresses or a linkage editor to resolve them. The GE-200 had only a loader. IDS and its tables had to be assembled together to create the load module, which meant a big re-assembly taking about 30 minutes, each time you changed either IDS or the tables. Programs communicated with each other through fixed memory locations, assigned in advance and hard coded into the programs that were to use them. Jim Gilliam (of the IS staff) and his team cut the IDS assembly listing apart and studied it subroutine by subroutine until they gained an understanding of the logic used. They also realized that using second generation assembler for implementation of complex software was a loser's game. A new tool was needed.
GE had a software implementation language called WIZOR. The GE FORTRAN II compiler was written in WIZOR as well as the WIZOR compiler itself. Which made WIZOR an easily modifiable language and a new enhanced dialect, G-WIZ, was soon born. Gilliam and others re-wrote IDS into G-WIZ and so created a dependable version. A copy of the new software was returned to GE as part of the agreement. BFGCC continued to work with its version of IDS and in 1969 it was modified to handle two database files. By this time, BFGCC was now running a (sort of) on-line (more correctly remote batch) order processing system in operation on a GE-265 configuration (GE235 CPU with Datanet-30 network controller) using their modified version of IDS for the GE-200 series machines.