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How it Started - JPLDIS: How Came The Idea

Jeb Long

JPL just bought 3 Univac 1108 computers. They were the first computers at JPL that you could access from terminals. It was great in 1970 for us computer types. However, many people at JPL didn't know what good it was and the top people wanted to have a killer applications that would draw users.

One guy was using a program called Retrieve on a Tymeshare (TM) computer. It had 5 commands: Create, Modify, List, Delete, and Append that you could use to manipulate the database but the guy was doing useful work. So in 1971, they funded me and another person named Jack Hatfield to develop a database managuement program thats easy to use, easy to learn and easy to remember. English language verbs (COPY, DELETE, etc.) were used for commands with prepositional phrases (TO myfile FOR m_Today = "Wed").

Jack Hatfield left JPL and I finished up the program. Anyway, I wrote the program in Fortran for the Univac 1108 computer. JPLDIS has 50 commands (I just looked at an old document) JPLDIS had lots of users at JPL and other government agencies.

See also: People That Began The History : Jeb Long

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