Author: steeleweed

Lions & Tigers & Dinosaurs, Oh My!

     I began working for IBM in 1963, on Unit Record accounts, and there was as much fun and challenge in wiring a 604 or 403 board as trying to stuff a 13K program into a 12K 1401 or debug the various releases of software for the S/360. I spent 5 years at IBM, then 5 more years at a software house, a year freelancing, then 24 years at NYSE and its subsidiary SIAC. From 2000 to 2013 I worked at HealthQuest.


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Flamenco Consultant

   From 1968-1972, I worked for Complex Systems, a software house specializing in TP code. I did application programming but spent most of my time doing Systems Programming, Systems Engineering and Systems Design.

   NYSE was one of our primary clients and I consequently spent a lot of time on the 1/2 floor overlooking the machine room at 11 Wall St. I admit to being a bit of a maverick, including my attire. I was particularly noted for a dark blue ‘western-cut’ suit, navy blue Stetson and black cowboy boots (which got me christened ‘Midnight Cowboy’).

   Some equipment arrived in bubblewrap and I laid out a stretch of it about 2 feet wide and 15 feet long, just outside the control center and the offices of the VP in charge. I did my best impression of a flamenco dancer, pounding my way poppingly down the corridor, ending with a grand flourish right outside the VP’s door.

   My ‘ta da!’ moment was somewhat dimmed by the discovery that the VP was entertaining an Executive VP whose jaw dropped in shock at my dramatic performance. Right then I was very glad to be a consultant rather than an employee. 😀

Q/A Testing

   While working on a software package to move Odd Lot orders/reports between brokers and the Odd Lot dealer, we were doing our usual Q/A, including [what we thought were] every possible bad input from brokers and Odd Lot dealer.

   Aside from the usual OS-MVT consoles, the system was controlled by operators manning 83B3 teletypes. One of these operators said she could crash the system any time. When challenged, she planted her elbow firmly on the keyboard of an 83B3, sending utter garbage into the system. She did indeed crash the system and we realized that garbage input could come from unexpected places.

Working Hard To Be Lazy

   From about 1974 until the late 1980s, I was responsible for maintaining Market Data System II, the mainframe system which gathered and reported trades on the New York Stock Exchange. This system was based on OS MVT Release 11 and was heavily customized/modified by IBM, with the promise to support it forever. In addition to a modified OS, IBM coded components to handle non-standard hardware and memory, as well as the infrastucture to support ‘applications’ modules.
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