Tag Archives: Hursley

IBM, As Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, Came To Be This Day, 106-Years Ago!

by Anura Guruge


Click to ENLARGE and read here. Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computing-Tabulating-Recording_Company



CTR and hence IBM, contrary to what most think, were NOT founded by Thomas J. Watson Sr. Watson was still at NCR in 1911 when CTR was formed. He didn’t join CTR till 1914.


My 3 IBM book.
The ‘SNA’ book, published in 1984, defined my life for the next 25 years.


I started my career with IBM, on Monday, August 26, 1974, at their Research Laboratory in Hursley, England. It was my very first job of any kind. Monday, August 26, 1974 happened to the August Bank Holiday Monday that year. I had sent in my acceptance paperwork for IBM, with my preferred start date, from Bangkok, Thailand — that being where my adoptive parents were living at the time. I had not realized that it was a holiday. IBM had no problem with it and accepted it as my start day, BUT told me not to report for work until the next day, the Tuesday. So, I started my working life getting paid for a day I did NOT work! That is my life.

Since that day, August 27, 1974, IBM was my life, 24×7, for the next 35 years!

I made my living by being an IBM expert. It wasn’t a bad way to make a fairly reasonable living. I have no regrets. I loved everything to do with IBM technology, especially the mainframes. So this is an important day.


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by Anura Guruge

Making Fun Of Aging IBMers Is Not Funny.

by Anura Guruge


You can find this on Facebook.

cics15btshirt

Click to ENLARGE and read. It says (in case you have trouble reading it): “What has processed 5 billion transactions in the time it took you to read this? CICS”.


CICSCustomer Information Control System
is an old, much beloved and widely used 
computer system for managing
large database-oriented systems.
Think: banks, airlines, financial institutes,
utility companies, car rental etc.


Yes, granted that this is VERY nerdy and obscure joke BUT it is cruel.

It basically pokes fun at aging IBMers (I being one of them), especially those that worked on mainframes, trying to mock their APPARENT lack of awareness of modern technology and their supposed unfamiliarity with large numbers.

OK. Let me explain. The 5 BILLION number is a huge, huge, huge exaggeration.

Most people can read about 8 – 10 words per second. So 16 words = 2 seconds.

So this is saying that IBM CICS systems (and there are a LOT of them still in use) are processing 5 Billion instructions in 2 seconds.

So that is 2.5 Billion instructions a second.

And that is the BUTT of this joke.

2.5 Billion/second is just PLAIN WRONG. And that is the POINT of the joke. Anybody who wears this is going to get thought of as ‘soft’.

Per IBM (see below and use this link), and this person, from Hursley (where I worked for IBM), would know and would have no reason to make a false claim, states 10 Billion CICS transactions a DAY.

cics10bnaday

Click to ENLARGE and read here. Use link cited above to access “Computer Weekly” original.


The real number is 1.1 MILLION transactions/second or 2.2 MILLION transactions in the time it takes to read the T-shirt blurb.

The 1.1 (1.15) million number is pretty well known. Here is another credible reference to it:

cicstransbel

Click to access original which quotes IBM’s CICS newsletter.


Attempts like this to belittle aging IBMers, such as I, upset me. Yes, we are getting old and are no longer as swift as we once were. But it doesn’t mean that we have become complete mindless, drooling dinosaurs. We can still hold our own against the new generation of IT folks. Don’t try to trip us up by trying to get us confused as to whether it is an ‘M’ or a ‘G’.

This T-shirt was uncalled for and callous. The guy who came up with it should be ashamed of himself.


Related posts:
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by Anura Guruge


Brian Close — I Am Sorry; What A MAN, But 84 Was Quite The Innings.


.Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail

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by Anura Guruge


Other Related posts:
>> Clive Rice …
>> Richie Benaud passing.
>> “We didn’t start the fire” …


++++ Check Category ‘Cricket’ for many other related posts >>>>


Ain’t this the truth? What a GUY. One of my all time heroes.

Click here to access the U.K. “Daily Mail” tribute.

brianclose111


Yes, I saw this, LIVE, on TV in 1976 —
Close and Edrich at Old Trafford against Holding, Andy Roberts and Daniels.
I remember it well.

NOTE: NO Helmets. These were REAL men.

brianclose453535


YouTube video of Brian Close getting peppered by Michael Holding, at Old Trafford, in 1976.
I watched this, IN AWE, live, on TV. I still remember it.
Now this was REAL cricket. NO helmets. Real men!

Brian Close — What a MAN.

briancloseyt

brianclose


Given our difference in age I only saw him towards the end of his career.

But, of course, he was a legend. A giant. I saw him during the 1976 West Indies Test Series. That was a turning point in my life. I was 23 years old and was working for IBM — at Hursley in Hampshire. I belonged to Hampshire Cricket Club (as a non-playing member, of course) and for the first time in my life getting the chance to see a lot of professional cricket. Gordon Greenidge and Andy Roberts both played for Hampshire and I knew them. So the 1976 Test Series was big. I followed it avidly. Yes, I went to Lord’s for the Saturday of the Test. That became my ‘thing’. Saturday of the Lord’s Test Match. That ’76 Series was epic. Changed my life. That is when I really became addicted to cricket. I still have so many books about that series INCLUDING the big Bob Frindall’s Score Book.

This (->) is how I will always remember Brian. That is what he looked liked (mainly) in the mid-1970s. I saw him at Somerset and in Hampshire. In those days I watched Somerset, in Somerset, whenever I could. I spent many weekends in Bristol and Somerset was ‘next door’. So Brian is no stranger to me.

84, even by his standards, wasn’t a bad knock. So I can’t complain.

I will miss him. What a guy. They don’t make them like that anymore. When I see batsman ducking into the ball, as did Eoin Morgan on Sunday, it makes me so mad. Helmets have been the bane of cricket. Batsman think they can handle the short stuff because they have the protection. They NEVER saw Brian and John Edrich. Now that was cricket.

Thank YOU, Brian. That, as you must know, was quite the INNINGS. You will always be ‘Not Out’ in MY book.


August 27 — The Important Anniversary In My Life, And This Year I Will Talk About ‘APL’.

ibmhursley

IBM Hursley per Google Maps. Cricket pitch & local pub highlighted.


.Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail

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by Anura Guruge


Related Posts:hursley_site_detail
>> IBM’s 1st ATM in the U.K.
>> Donate Hursley House To The National Trust.

>>Think” sign — Aug. 28, 2014.
>> Hursley’s John Fairclough
>> Mainframe 50th.
>> Gene Amdahl & I.
>> IBM Hursley pictures.
>> Malaysia flight 370: And ‘Poor’ IBM.

++++
Search on “Hursley”, “IBM” & “mainframes” for other IBM (Hursley) related posts >>>>


For the last few years I have been trying to ‘put a stake in the ground‘ every August 27th. It is an important anniversary in my life. I left Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), for what turned out to be for good (though I had no idea that it would be thus then), on Sunday, August 27, 1967. I was a week shy of my 14th birthday. I left on (what I think was a Pan Am) Boeing 707 from what was then ‘Katunayake Airport’ to Athens (Greece). It was my first trip outside of Asia.

Seven tumultuous years later, during which I lived (at least for 11 months at a time) in three different countries, viz. U.S.A. (Buffalo, NY), France (Paris) and the U.K. (London & Swansea), on Tuesday, August 27, 1974 I started working for IBM — at Hursley in the U.K. Well since my birthday is my birthday (though due to the hospital mix-up it could be +/- 2 days), I joined IBM a week shy of my 21st birthday. That it was the 27th, as I have talked about before, was CUTE and neat. I had NOT planned to start work — the VERY FIRST working day of my entire life (having never worked, for pay, in any capacity prior to that) — on a Tuesday. But, for the second year in a row I was spending my Summer in Bangkok, Thailand — and what Summer it was with the Vietnam war coming to an end ‘right there’! [That is another story.] I had sent a telegram to IBM saying that I planned to accept my job offer (from nearly 18 months previously) and start work on Monday, August 26, 1974. Got a neat telegram back saying basically that that was good, and that August 26th will be my official start day (in terms of salary) BUT since that Monday was ‘August Bank Holiday Monday’ would I please not come into work until Tuesday, August 27. That was how I started my working life. Getting paid for a day that I didn’t work — and spent most of the day watching cricket on TV. (Well, to be fair to IBM, IBM also paid for many days when I was not at work — though I was supposed to be — but was in Southampton watching Hampshire play! That is another story too. My work didn’t really suffer and that is all they cared about. Performance reviews were BIG in those days. I had 7 reviews in the 5 years I was at IBM. The reviews were graded from ‘1’ to ‘5’. ‘1’ basically said you walked on water and ‘5’ meant that you passed water when you realized that your review was done. Of the 7 reviews I got a ‘1’ in 5. So I guess the time I took off, without telling anybody, during the Summer, to watch LIVE cricket, really didn’t affect my performance. I did, ALWAYS, make up the time — albeit working late into the night (and as such getting overtime). What can I say.

Well last year, on August 27, I talked about John Fairclough who was the lab. director during my whole tenure at Hursley.

aplbook

Ken Iverson’s 1962 book, the TITLE of which begat the language …

This year let me talk about ‘APL’ — A Programming Language — the BRILLIANT coding system, for mathematicians, engineers and scientists, that was developed in the early 1960s by Ken Iverson. I can’t be 100% certain of this BUT I think I once ‘spoke’, obliquely (if I remember right), with Ken during my time at IBM. I will get to that in a second. Looking after APL was the first task I was given upon joining IBM (at Hursley) and going through about 10 days of orientation. I had been hired to work for the ‘System Support Group‘ (SSG). That it was called the ‘Swapping Society Group‘ had a lot to do with the 1970s and I will have to tell that story in a later post. So looking after APL meant that I was responsible for making sure that APL, which was an interpretive language, was readily available, 24×7, for all the hundreds of very clever engineers who used it for their work at Hursley — mainly for modeling engineering designs.

Though I was a programming language freak at the time — which is why IBM offered me a job during my 2nd year at University — and was proficient in about 5 languages, I did NOT know APL. Knowing APL was not a requirement per se. My job was to support the system — not write code. But I set out to learn APL and that was HUGELY rewarding and fun. I was never a master APL programmer (as I would be in Assembler, FORTRAN, PL/I, COBOL & PL/S) but I could get by — and most importantly those that used APL, in anger, at Hursley, knew that they could talk ‘APL’ to me and I would not be clueless.

I loved APL. It was so compact and terse. Not verbose like today’s programming languages. Much of it was done with SPECIAL mathematical symbols. Here are some examples of APL code. Neat … right?

aplexample1

***********

aplfragment2

So given all the special (Greek) symbols involved you needed a special APL keyboard to program in APL. 

aplkeyb
IBM’s APL interpreter, which was very clever, was also VISUAL. That meant that you could create symbols by OVERTYPING and the system would recognize what it was. Well, in 1974, we, at least in Hursley, did not have any electronic terminals — i.e., (3270-like) displays. We used selectric teletype terminals for interactive programming and system management. Yes, we also, in 1974, used punched cards and paper tape. Given the symbols you needed a bespoke APL Selectric Golfball for APL. IBM, of course, made and sold them. You just needed to order them IF you planned to use APL. I kept a whole drawer full of APL Golfballs as part of my job for those that came by asking for one. I would also carry one in my pocket. Carrying a Golfball in your pocket really gives meaning to the expression ‘playing pocket golf’.

aplgolfball

Selectric Golfball.

Well, soon after I joined Hursley we were tasked with implementing the new “APL Shared Variable”, APL SV, system. APL SV, like all of the IBM APL systems was developed in the ‘States’ — I think, at the time, in ‘Yorktown Heights’ in New York. SV was new and had some issues. There were a number of times I had to call the ‘States’ to report problems or ask for workarounds. My contact was Adin Falkoff, Ken’s collaborator and right hand man. Adin was very nice and always helpful. It was during one of these calls that I think Adin said “Ken says ‘Hi'”. Wow. [I always admired Adin’s last name.]

There was one printing problem in APL SV that had gone for over 6 months without a fix. The Hursley users were constantly bugging me about it. Though it wasn’t my job to FIX problems in APL SV — that being the prerogative of the ‘States’ — I decided to have a look. In those heady days ‘we’ — meaning anybody that worked for IBM — basically had ready access to the source code of more or less anything that IBM created. So I had the source code and I went digging. I found the problem. I fixed it. Even patched it locally on our system. Then I called up Adin and told him how to fix it. He was very pleased. BUT, not as pleased as my BOSS. He was ecstatic. It was funny. But in those days there was REAL competition between the ‘States’ and the non-U.S. labs. So now we had the situation that Hursley had fixed a bug that had foxed the ‘States’ for 6 months. This was why I could go off and watch cricket during the day and nobody complained! 

I miss APL. I keep on thinking about installing it on my PC.

Well that was 1974 to 1975, in Hursley, working for IBM when I wasn’t watching/playing cricket.


Sri Lanka: Birth Certificate From 1953 & A Birth ‘Chit’ From 1960.

Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail.
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by Anura Guruge

prizes


Related posts:
>>
I too am “The Other Son”.
>>
Ananda College: prize list.
>> Ananda College prize giving 1969.

++++ Check Category ‘Sri Lanka’ or search ‘Ceylon’ for other posts >>>>


Click to ENLARGE.


This is my birth certificate (hospital mix up, that made me also “The Other Son”, notwithstanding). It was issued on September 15, 1953 — 9 days after the day of birth. Actually, if you want to be pedantic, it is a certified copy made on January 3, 1959 — probably when I was ready to go to school. Wonder what happened to the original.

Note some very interesting things:

1. It was issued at a office in “Slave Island“! (That is at the top.) Yes, that was a fairly well known part of Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

2. It asks for the race — Sinhalese — of each parent.

3. It asks whether the parents were married.

4. It asks for father’s “rank or profession”. Mine says “Assistant Secretary to the Prime Minister“. [This is why the first car I was ever in was a Rolls Royce! The Prime Minister’s car. He lent it to my father, with the official driver, to bring me home from hospital — safety — given that there was some communal disturbance going on in Colombo.

5. The hospital mix up happened at the “Private General Hospital“, Colombo 7 — which is a rather ‘exclusive’ part of town.

6. The ‘tattooed’ “IBM WIN 06” denotes that I must have made this copy while working for IBM (at Hursley, the ‘Win’ indicating Winchester, the nearest city — while the ’06’ was the number of this copying machine. IBM had this ‘id’ engraved on the glass so that it could keep track of copies that were made!).


Click to ENLARGE.


This is a Birth ‘chit’ — issued by a midwife to certify the birth. The birth certificate would have come later. This is not mine. It is for my new friend, from Sri Lanka, who went to the same school as me, Ananda College, Udeni Wijegunaratne. He is a lawyer. We were talking about my birth certificate and he sent this over (and gave me permission to post it). You can make out his mother’s name.

It is hard to make out at the top because it is ripped but he was born at the “De Soyza Lying in Home“. That is SO British — Victorian era. “Lying in Home” for pregnant women. How brilliant. I remember that term. Weight of the placenta? Wow. I notice it is not filled in. 

I guess you have worked out what I am doing. I am preserving these documents for posterity.


Unveiling Of IBM’s First ATM Machine In London (U.K.), mid-1970s — A STORY.

.Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail
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by Anura Guruge


Related Posts:hursley_site_detail
>> Donate Hursley House To The National Trust.
>> Get rid of unproductive R&D.
>> IBM’s 26% layoff is NOT enough.

>>
Punch-drunk IBM, 40% layoff.

>> “Think” sign — Aug. 28, 2014.
>> Hursley’s John Fairclough …
>> Mainframe 50th.
>> Gene Amdahl & I.
>> IBM Hursley pictures.
>> Malaysia flight 370: And ‘Poor’ IBM.

++++
Search on “Hursley”, “IBM” & “mainframes” for other IBM (Hursley) related posts >>>>


The story in the January 26, 2015 issue of the U.K. “Daily Mail”, that I talked about here, which memorialized IBM in terms of ‘floppy disks and the first modern ATM’, brought to mind this story. With the book in the works I had been too busy until now to get around to sharing it with you.

My business cards from the mid-1990s to about 2003 used to say: ‘analyst, author and raconteur’. The latter in the main was to embrace the fact that a major part of my then life was about relating stories — verbally and in writing. Doing standup seminars was a huge part of my life and I used to write even more than I do now!

I still think of myself as a raconteur though most of my storytelling is now restricted to my writings. But sharing stories, especially those with historic significance, is important to me — because I do NOT want them to disappear. So it has been very gratifying, especially this year, that my story about what happened in 1948 during Ceylon’s Independence Celebration has now received significant coverage in Sri Lanka. That is the point. I would have hated for that story to have died with me.

So, this story, is in the same spirit.


Unveiling Of IBM’s First ATM In London, mid-1970s,
The STORY.

Background
I heard this story, c. 1977, while working for IBM (U.K.) at Hursley. I can still remember the event, vividly, in my mind’s eye. It took place in the Hursley ‘Special Engineering’ lab (in the low-slung, single story, bunker like building in which all of Hursley’s ‘Special Engineering’ group was housed at the time). We were all gathered around, informally, around an 8100. There was about eight or nine of us from various projects. I think we were just taking a break. The story was told by a ‘Planner’ (IBM terminology at the time for what today would be a ‘Product Manager’). Hursley ‘Special Engineering’ would have, of course, played some role in the U.K. version of an ATM. IF nothing else the ATM, most likely an IBM 3614 or 3624, would have had to have been customized for ‘UK English’ and to handle UK Sterling currency. That would have been done by Hursley ‘Special Engineering’. So the Planner telling this story probably was involved with this ATM unveiling from the start. As with the Ceylon story I never tried to verify it — at the time. It was no big deal. We were a group of friends, chatting. Nobody was trying to score points. So the chances are that this story, like the Ceylon story, is true. It is even possible that the Planner had been there. Again, I never asked. I, alas, no longer remember his name (and folks know how bad I am with names). I can, however, visualize him.

I found this story online. The timeframe ADDS up. Again this was not the first ATM, first ATM in the U.K. or first ATM in London. It was IBM’s first ATM in London. Got that? OK.

3614_960x750

IBM 3614 — one of the first IBM ATMs.

The Story
The unveiling was a ‘big deal’. I think it was a Monday at the City. There was a Royal involved. It might not have been the Queen per se. It might have been Prince Philip, Princess Anne or a second-tier Royal such as Prince Michael of Kent. [IBM, at in those days, did NOT have trouble getting Royal patronage given their clout in the U.K.]

The ATM is installed in the lobby. On a wall, IBMers had been working on it all weekend to make sure it worked perfectly. But as was fairly normal they did all of the testing using ‘mock’ paper currency. The unveiling is close. The ATM is behind a curtain. There are cameras. Speeches are being made. An IBM engineer loads the machine, behind the curtain, with REAL money. It is now ready for action.

Lots of fanfare. The Royal is given an ATM card. IBM VIPs are at hand, at the Royal’s elbow, to offer instructions on how to use the machine.

The Royal inserts the card, types in a pin and enters a cash amount.

The machine ‘whirrs’ into action and suddenly everybody hears VERY CLEARLY the dreadful sound of paper being ripped. Nothing is coming out. Just this awful ripping sound from within the ATM.

The IBMers are looking at each other — mortified. Eventually they jump into action — like all good IBMers are expected to do. They escort the Royal backwards and draw back the curtain.

The engineers immediately open the side of the ATM and dive in.

To their horror, but also to their amusement, it is very obvious what had gone wrong.

The person loading the ATM with £5 notes, in his excitement and nervousness, had FORGOT to take off the rubber bands that held the notes together.

That was IT.

So per the story, and I am sure it is true, that was what happened at the unveiling of IBM’s first ATM in London, U.K.


More Tips On MASTERING E-Mails: The 3rd MOST Valuable Piece Of Professional Advice I Received.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

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Anura Guruge


Related posts:
>> Getting your FACTS RIGHT re. e-mails — Nov. 2, 2013.
++++ Do a SEARCH on ‘Alton Central’ from Sidebar search trench for other related posts >>>>>


Click to ENLARGE.

Click to ENLARGE.

I was told this, one morning in 1981, in Cockfosters (I kid you not), N. London, by Chris James, my 2nd-line manager (actually a Director) at ITT Data Systems (U.K.) [by FAR the BEST and FUN company I have ever worked for and I worked for quite a few including IBM, Wang, Northern Telecom & BBN.]

telex-largeChris, who went onto become a mega success in networking was a remarkable man; beyond clever, very funny and extremely kind. He taught me a lot about a bunch of things — plus some very valuable pointers I never forgot about how to fill in expense reports, ‘correctly’, so that they would never be denied! In my youth, I really was blessed. I had some AMAZING bosses who went out of their way to help me — given that I needed as much help as I could get.

In 1981 there was no widespread e-mail per se (though I had started using a very primitive messaging scheme at IBM in 1976 to communicate with R&D peers at a sister IBM Lab. in Japan about the new 3270 system we were working on). Instead what we had was TELEXES — ITT a leading provider of Telex solutions. Telexes were a grandiose form of telegrams. It was all paper and paper tape. I still get very nostalgic when I think of Telexes — since, as you might have guessed, I was a huge user of telexes. At ITT we had a Telex room with a bunch of very nice young ladies. We also had Telex forms. You wrote out your Telex on a form, with the ‘To:s’ and the ‘CC:s’ AND their Telex phone numbers, and then took it down to be typed; BCC was a bit difficult with Telex. In my case, given that I would have a long distribution list and my propensity for resending stuff etc. etc., the girls wouldn’t bang it out and transmit it (there being a small amount of memory to retain a copy). They would first transcribe it onto paper tape. Then they could reuse it! It was very clever.

So on that day I was sitting in Chris’ office and he got a long Telex delivered. He started reading it … That is when he looked up, with his habitual grin on his face, and told me the above … The next few days I put it to the test. Chris, as ever, WAS RIGHT.

Even today, 30 years later, as soon as I get an e-mail the FIRST thing I read is the DISTRIBUTION LIST.

Ditto when I send an e-mail. I check the distribution list carefully BEFORE I hit send. I might forget an attachment BUT rarely, if ever, do I screw up when it comes to who I send e-mails.



The 2nd most valuable piece of professional I got was also at ITT, Cockfosters. This time it was by my 1st line manager, Steve Kane. Steve was amazing. He had a degree in philosophy and was incredibly astute. He really understood who people thought and as such knew exactly who to deal with them. Steve was VERY GOOD TO ME. He made me the U.K. Customer Support Manager for ITT Data Systems (U.K.) the night before my 27th birthday — so that I would be able to boast that I became an ITT Manager at 26! That is Steve. Always thinking of how to motivate and reward people.

As Customer Support Manager, with about 6 top-notch software engineers working for me, and a client base that included Xerox, Exxon, Ford, British Leyland, British Petroleum etc. etc., I used to have to deal with a whole bunch of ‘problems’ on a daily basis. One day I was getting beaten up, badly, by Ford. We were having a problem and we just didn’t have a quick fix. So as the Support Manager they were unloading on me. I was 27 and was getting ‘upset’. Steve calls me in. He then basically told me, his training in philosophy again at the forefront:

“Anu, there is really NO POINT worrying about work-related problems. If you want to worry about things worry about stuff that is not work-related. Work-related problems come and go. A year from today I can call you in and ask you what you were worrying about ON THIS DAY — and you will NOT REMEMBER. In the same way IF I asked you what you were working on a year ago today you won’t remember unless you go look it up. So, REMEMBER THE ONE YEAR RULE. You will not remeber work-related problems a year from now. So don’t let them bother you.”

Yes, of course, I know that there can be exceptions. But, this made sense — like nearly all things Steve Kane would tell me. I paid heed. I even, given my then very good, semi-photographic memory, tried to keep track of work-related ‘problems’ on a year basis. In those days I never maintained a paper appointments book or diary BUT would remember 3 weeks of travel, appointments and meetings in my HEAD (to the annoyance of all, especially my dear Secretary). My memory was that good. I or my secretary wrote all my commitments on a huge, purple, wall chart in my room. I would look at it when I was in my office and I could then SEE IT in my minds eye just like a photograph! But, even with that memory Steve Kane’s 1-year rule was good.

In the ensuing 3 decades I have conveyed Steve’s words of wisdom to hundreds of others.

Many have agreed that it made sense — and that it helped them.

Thank YOU, Steve. So that was #2.



The very, very BEST professional advice I ever had, and I would NOT BE HERE if not for it, was from my 1st ever boss, the inimitable Les B. of IBM Hursely.

I have told this story in print a number of times, so I am going to keep it short.

I joined IBM on August 27, 1974 — exactly a week ahead of my 21st birthday. It was my very 1st job of any sort.

A couple of months into the job a uniformed security guard came to see me and handed me a REGISTERED CONFIDENTIAL document — one of the highest levels of secure documents at IBM, hence the personal hand-delivery by a uniformed guard. WHY I got that Registered Confidential document that day is still a mystery! I think it was a mistake. IF I believed in spiritual stuff I would call it providential.

The document was about something called ‘SNA‘ — and that henceforth it would stand for ‘Systems Network Architecture‘ as opposed to ‘SINGLE Network Architecture‘. This had to do with the anti-trust law suit that plagued IBM in those days and influenced each and every decision.

I was NOT working on SNA. I had never heard of SNA. I was still brand new.

I went to see Les. Les was the epitome of an ‘open door’, very relaxed, VERY SOCIAL manager. I walk in with the document in my hand … and start: “Hey, Les, I just got this about S.N. …”

I never got to get out the “A”. Les, waving his hand dismissively, cut me off.

He said:

“Ahh! Forget about it.
It will NEVER CATCH ON”.

I was 21. I had been a rebel for the last 5 years. I might have got my hair cut (after 2 years) and was wearing a tie — but the rebellious instincts were still there.

Something told me that this was my destiny.

I walked straight out of Les’ office to the Hursley Library — which happened to be nearby. In those days before the Internet, I used to spend a lot of time in libraries. So already the Head Librarian knew me well. I went up to her and asked her to order me (as all of us IBM employees were allowed to do) any INTRODUCTORY manuals that IBM had on SNA.

Two weeks later I got, in an envelope, a thin 32 page, RED covered “SNA: An Introduction”. I read it in one go. Made sense though I wasn’t sure what it was all about!

Over the next 30 years SNA made me what I am.

SNA from the early 1980s to 2000 was HUGE.

It was THE networking scheme prior to the Internet.

Thanks to Les’ advice I was, the uncontested, ‘Mr. SNA’, during that time.

Google it.



Today, August 27, Marks 46th Anniversary Of Me Leaving Ceylon; 39th Of Me Joining IBM U.K. (Hursley), My Very First Job.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

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Anura Guruge


December 1967 in Buffalo. My mother decorating a cake. This was her forte. I couldn't find any pictures from August 1967.

December 1967 in Buffalo. My mother decorating a cake. This was her forte. I couldn’t find any pictures from August 1967.


August 27 has been an important landmark for much of my life.

That was the day in 1967 when I left Ceylon, basically for good, a week ahead of my 14th birthday. It sure changed my life though I am never sure whether it was for the better. IF I had had a choice I would have stayed in Ceylon and taken my lumps along the way. My cousins who knew me quite well reckon that I would have been shot very early on during the Civil War that started c. 1980 given that they know of my propensity to say my piece and be passionate about causes. I kind of think that they are right. I know that if I had stayed in Ceylon I would have got involved in politics.

I still remember the day we left. Actually it was night. Around 9pm local time, I think. I remember the Airport well. About 200 people came to see us off. I remember the plane. It was a Boeing 707 — still one of my favorite planes. I think it has ageless beauty. I think we flew TWA or PanAm. I have a TWA poster for a 707, from that era, hanging above my desk — even as I write.

Seven years later, on August 27, 1974, a Tuesday, the day after a Bank Holiday Monday in the UK, was my first work day at IBM U.K. Research Lab at Hursley — then IBM’s largest research lab. outside of the U.S.

I had signed up to start work on Monday, August 26, 1974. I did not know when it was a Bank Holiday when I sent a letter from Bangkok, Thailand, in July of that year, to a Ms. McKragen, Head of Personnel, Hursley, saying that I will start that day. I had been communicating with her off and on for 2 years — that being when IBM made me an unconditional job offer, when I was 19, that I would have a job at Hursley whenever I wanted it, degree or no degree — and all that I had to do was contact Ms. McKragen and tell her I was ready to join. That was a nice insurance policy to have in your back pocket when you were a totally WILD, totally hedonistic teenager living the life of Riley in College with no regard for the next day — let alone the future.

I wanted to be a game warden in Africa, though I was doing my degree in Computer Technology. After my offer from IBM I spent a whole year writing letters to various Game Parks in Africa looking for employment. Never got a single bite. Then I didn’t want to work for a capitalist American company! I hadn’t cut my hair in 2 years and was a quintessential no-drugs, but plenty of free love hippy. A British company, Sicon, offered me a very attractive job but they wanted me to spend a year in Bahrain installing a computer system at an hospital. Going to Bahrain, in 1974, did not appeal. I wanted to work for ICL — a British company, especially since I was already an expert on ICL systems (which is why IBM offered me this job in my 2nd year at Uni). ICL invited me for a weekend overnight recruiting camp at a very posh and nice country estate. I checked in on Friday night and then as was my wont those days, when I really was wild, took off the next day, with some girls I met at the event, to a very posh local pub, on the Thames, called ‘The Bell’. I still remember that, because I used to go back to that pub if I was within 15 miles of it. Suffice to say none of us got job offers from ICL since we missed most of Saturday. But, I had IBM’s job offer in my back pocket.

Then in June I went to Bangkok. Some of you will put two and two together. July – August 1974. The last days of Vietnam. American troops and support staff were pouring into Bangkok. I was living in a gated apartment complex with a lot of ‘service’ Americans. So exciting times. It was then that I sent my ‘can I start on August 26, 1974’ letter to Ms. McKragen — it being a Monday. She, a delightful lady, with a great sense of humor, sent me a letter back. This was before e-mail — though I first used e-mail, at IBM, to talk with some fellow IBMers in Japan, in 1976. She told me that Monday, August 26, was a Holiday but it certainly could be my official start date, but she would see me on Tuesday. Tuesday was august 27. What a coincidence.

So, August 27 is always special.

“Comets: 101 Facts & Trivia” eBook Available FREE From August 23 to 28, 2013. Read On Any Platform.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.Comets101Cover

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by
Anura Guruge


Related posts:
>> “Comets 101: Facts & Trivia” eBook
>>July 18, 2013.
>> ‘Comet ISON for Kids’
>>July 29, 2013.

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August 27 is a rather important day in my life.

So this 5 day have it for FREE is meant to span that day.

It was the day that I left Ceylon (aged 13.9 years) in 1967.

It was my start date at IBM (Hursley) in 1974
(aged 20.9 and armed with my B. Sc. (Hons.)),

though it a Monday that year, was a Bank Holiday in the UK,
and I only reported to work on August 28
— albeit getting paid for the 27th.
[Since this was my very first job of any sort I started my work career getting paid for holiday WITHOUT having worked a single day.]

It is ~ a ‘week’ ahead of my birthday.

So, to celebrate I am giving away this eBook for free.

Check it out. It is a fun book.

Enjoy.



Royal Baby, George Alexander Louis. I Had A Hunch About ‘Louis’. I Am Delighted. Another Of My Heroes.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

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by
Anura Guruge


Related posts:
>> The Royal Baby … — July 24, 2013.

++++ Search on ‘Royals‘ or ‘Kate‘ for all of my related posts including those of Kate topless >>>>


From my all time favorite newspaper, the one and only, the great, U.K. Daily Mail. Click to access Daily Mail original.

Click to access U.K. Daily Mail pictures and story.


I had an inkling that ‘Louis’ was going to be in there in some way.

I like the whole name, but am very gratified by the ‘Louis’ part. Yes, most Americans don’t know him though he was, of course, Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia Command (1943-1946).

One of my heroes, alongside the likes of Churchill, Mandela, Tutu, Montgomery et. al.

Admiral of the Fleet Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten,
1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma,
KG GCB OM GCSI GCIE GCVO DSO PC FRS


I never met him though we both lived in the same state, Hampshire, prior to his tragic assassination by the cowardly, dastardly IRA.

There is a Ceylon connection. He moved the South East Asia Command headquarters to Ceylon (Kandy) in August 1944. 

He used to stay at this hotel, Mount Lavinia, just south of Colombo, on the coast.

He used to stay at this hotel, Mount Lavinia, just south of Colombo, on the coast.

Obviously, if you know your history, he was the Viceroy and Governor General of India during the period of Independence. He is the one who created Pakistan. Yes, it is also true (and I have never been able to reconcile this) that it was during this time that my other hero (and dinner guest at our house), Jawaharlal Nehru, was having a very open affair with his wife.

The Mountbattens with Gandhi, 1947.

The absolutely breathtakingly beautiful, Mountbatten Estate, in Romsey, Hampshire — just 4 miles from Hursley (where I worked for IBM). One of my favorite destinations.