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Issue No.04 - October-December (2009 vol.31)
pp: 76-86
<p>System 2000 was developed in 1970 and then successfully marketed by a small firm of DBMS technology entrepreneurs in Austin, Texas. Before the company was acquired by Intel Corporation in 1979, System 2000 was installed at more than 300 customer sites and used by more than 400 other organizations via Remote Computing Service firms. It remains in use today.</p>
MRI, Austin, DBMS, Gene Lowenthal, Alfred King, SAS Institute, Intel, System 2000
Robert L. Brueck, "System 2000: The MRI Systems Corporation", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol.31, no. 4, pp. 76-86, October-December 2009, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2009.105
1. Both MRI, and its major DBMS product, System 2000, began with different names, but in this article, I refer to them by their more recognized names. Until 1971, MRI was called Management Research International, when the principal business was operations research consulting. The original intended name for the DBMS product was Data Central, but we discovered a usage conflict before any investment in that name. The DBMS product went to market as System 2000.
2. The progenitor running on IBM computers at SDC had been called the Time Shared Data Management System (TDMS). SDC created a variant with a commercial market in mind, Commercial DMS (CDMS), but its development was eventually abandoned. I subsequently learned that the SDC technology was an evolution of earlier work at the MIT Lincoln Labs and Mitre called ADAM, which was software developed to provide online access to data for the DEW line early-warning system.
3. Ben Conroy, Jack Crosby, and Moak Rollins (bless them).
4. It should have helped that (but it didn't seem to) in 1965 Marty Goetz at Applied Data Research had applied for a software patent, which was granted in 1968. Software patents were controversial then, as they still are today.
5. We offered a paid-up lease for $35,000 and a couple of month-to-month or term lease plans, with separate pricing (eventually) for modules with additional capability to bring the total potential sale to approximately $140,000. Over the years, the major additional modules included report writers, a sequential file module, teleprocessing interfaces, and a data director/dictionary capability.
6. They included, in addition to CDC, Computer Science Corporation, United Computing, and CAP-Gemini in Europe. They all became important partners in expansion of our RCS license and product business over the years.
7. Our principal shareholders were Will S. Farish, III, Robert L. Gerry, III, Ben H. Powell, Jr., and Jake Hershey. Gerry, and Gerald E. Veltman (at the behest of Will Farish) subsequently became members of the MRI Board of Directors.
8. , The Intel lack of interest in DSC was a technology issue. Intel desired to pursue a DBC product development based on microprocessors, not the technology MRI had found so uniquely appropriate for the task at DSC. With regret bordering on sadness, MRI and DSC went our separate ways. To this day, Gene Courtney and I are close friends, and I later served on the Board of Directors of a public company where he was CEO.
9. In 1998, former MRI staffers held their first reunion in Austin, which was attended by 81 former employees plus spouses and guests. It was a love-in! The second reunion followed the Memorial Service for Alfred King on 18 April 2006.
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