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Re: Claim to faim

> To: deltoids@mcws.net
> Subject: Re: Claim to faim 
> Organization: Design Software Group, Parametric Technology Corporation
> Date: Thu, 30 Apr 1998 21:39:13 -0600
> From: Rich Thomson <rthomson@ptc.com>
> This sounds like the WATCH/FORCE duo of priv utilities that I got in
> trouble over :).  I used FORCE to type what seemed like "line noise"
> and spurious erase characters into a high school user's input stream.
> I remember looking at the source code for this -- all these magic
> PEEKs at various locations in the system area (had to be priveleged to
> do that) to read the I/O buffers and POKEs at other magic locations to
> insert your keyboard input into the victim's input buffers.  Now that
> I think about this, is there any legitimate reason for a program like

These may have been later codifiations of the thing - whether Delta
code or stuff later included with RSTS.  I thought "force" later became
a fairly simple sys function, though watching still required real-time
dancing.  There were some uses for "force" - it was a potentially a
polite way to log someone out, or a way to force a save of their workspace
for examination...

> Tangent: I remember Ron Dozier explaining how BASIC-PLUS code was
> really compiled internally into "push-pop code" and that everything we
> wrote in BASIC-PLUS was really executed as a stack machine.  Gee,
> sounds just like Java with its virtual machine instructions derived
> from C++-ish object-oriented code, huh?  The more things change, the
> more they stay the same. :)

Yeah, it was actually pretty cool.   I wrote a push-pop disassembler
and tried to do an "assembler" but never got that far with it.  It
would have allowed some neat tricks with mapping strings to arbitrary
places (like the FIELD statement), but like many interesting
little project there was never time, discipline or skills to actually
put it off at the time.  It's one thing to understand stuff and tweak
it, creation requires more time/experience and we weren't always up
to that.

> > Another thing they did was work with the FE to install "memory protect"
> > switches on each of the memory modules that held the system stuff.
> Hey!  That reminds me, what was the name of the DEC field engineer who
> would periodically come down to fix our broken DECwriters?  I'm
> drawing a complete blank on the guy's name, but he was friendly and
> apparently had a certain fondness for DELTA.

Well, the only one I remember by name was Wayne Gaskell.  I think he
later became the district service manager then moved on.  He was pretty
cool with us, friendly and also had a built-from spares PDP-11 at home
if I recall.  There were probably others...

> Lots of people have mentioned Teresa Green in one way or another, but
> I'm sorry to say that she draws a complete blank in my mind.  I guess
> she was out of the picture by the time things moved to Willard Hall, or
> I was just too unimportant to be of any concern to her?  (I have a
> distinct memory of being constantly dismissed because I was "just some
> kid" -- I think that's a direct quote from Uffelman!)  The only memory
> I have is of Ed Jones mentioning her -- but I can't even remember what
> he said or what context in which the conversation took place.

Well, the parting of Delta from Teresa apparently wasn't with out some
trauma, but I'm surprised there weren't more Teresa stories floating
around.  She *was* Delta in the eyes of the early Deltoids (not that
we use the term back then).  I'm don't really recall the organizational
history of Delta, but at the time I got involved it was being funded
by the Delaware School Auxilliary Association (DSAA).  This was a group
that basically funneled DuPont family and other charitible contributions
into worthwhile school projects.  Teresa was the project director and
presumably founder.  None of the students involved really had exposure
to the DSAA or politics involved, though there might have been a
dog&pony presentation in there somewhere.  

So anyway, Teresa was the boss and final authority for the students
involved.  She was generally fair and easy to work with, but also
had high expectations and standards that more than a few would-be
Deltoids failed to meet and were cast away.  I think this may have
contributed to the "exclusive" nature of the beast, as it lead to
a them&us relationship between the core group, the contact students
and lowly users, but as others have mentioned that may also have been
just the ordinary teen status/clique/ego-trip thing in play.

She was also quite serious about responsiblity and the contractual
issue with DEC, the "source code" was like the holy grail and nobody
was going to get away with a copy.  I remember starting to keypunch(!)
in parts of it so that we could do our own builds from source and
getting my finger severly slapped.

At the time, we had decwriters and a Datapoint 2200 "Glass TTY",
soon to be replaced by a VT05 (with cursor control!!!), and
shuffling cards seem like a much better prospect than the on-line
editors for the task...