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Interview of Kenton Andersen and Bruce Miller

Recorded:June 11, 2014

Listen to the full audio of the Interview

Highlights

h:mm:ss

0:12:20 Bruce and Kenton marketing NOTIS, 1981-83

0:28:00 Library's budgetary powerlessness; desire to get income from NOTIS

1:36:50 "Every school should bring in money." "Early days of universities doing technology transfer"

1:48:20 Three main things Jane did to make the system more attractive to the broader market.

2:14:40 Kenton: "I know of no other software company in which the salesperson had carte blanche"

2:20:05 Bruce: "Support of full MARC record"; tight integration ("in early 1970's they were all silo systems")

2:34:15 Kenton: "I do mean that Geac [hardware] was "Brand X"... ]

Complete map/excerpts

h:mm:ss

0:00:00 Introductions

0:12:20 Bruce and Kenton marketing NOTIS, 1981-83

0:14:50 Kenton Circ, Venezuela Project, 1978-81; Spanish-language support

0:22:10 New Circ; self-service kiosks

1/8th of recording

0:24:20 Punched cards à barcodes; barcoding project

0:28:00 Library's budgetary powerlessness; desire to get income from NOTIS

0:31:25 GTO

0:31:25 Visit to Stanford/RLIN; genesis of GTO

0:35:10 Catalogers/Catalog assistants

0:37:00 US MARC; Kenton's work on tag-table module

0:39:50 IBM 4331 processor; moved from VSE, in library, to MVS, at UMS, 1988

IBM 9370 installed at UMS for NOTIS Office VSE support

0:41:15 Kenton's NOTIS projects, 1984-88, while at UMS (besides GTO)

0:41:50 Customer data conversion

0:44:00 Growth from 8 customers (1983) to 100 (1988)

1/4th of recording

0:46:00 Kenton's involvement with z39.50; OSI; NOTIS VSE àMVS conversion (1981-2)

0:49:00 University of Florida / FCLA

0:52:00 Kenton installs: Clemson, Auburn, Washington University (1981-4)

0:53:15 Jane's hiring

0:53:50 Kenton: work on LUIS (OPAC) module; origin of "Guide Screen" concept; "epiphany";

Author-title-subject index; compression

0:59:30 OPAC transaction log

1:00:50 NUL computer room; 4331; quick response compared to modem-connection

1:06:15 Lee Ellis; library budget

3/8 of recording

1:08:10 IBM macro-level / command-level; CWA (Common Work Area);

Telex 476 (special library terminal); "no more than 24K of RAM"; even under CICS, only 64K; Small footprint

1:15:50 Most proud of having done …

1:15:50 Kenton

1:16:30 Bruce

1:17:50 Why no NOTIS ILL module?

1:22:10 Velma, NUGM 1993 speech … frustration with course of events; "dollar signs in eyes of University Librarian and University Administration"; "marketing people want commitments that suit their marketing purposes".

1:27:00 "marketing operation" began in 1983 with Jane's hiring

1:28:00 John as driving force? 1980 EDUCOM report;

1:30:00 Library as "profit center"

1/2 of recording

1:32:00 Bruce: Velma instilling "systems analysis" mentality in library staff

1:33:40 Bruce: "Behind the scenes was the strong unrelenting support of John McGowan"; "Change from old European ‘bookman' model…."

1:36:50 John not factoring Jane into the equation?

"Every school should bring in money." "Early days of universities doing technology transfer"

1:41:40 "Certainly the [marketing] model changed with Jane." NU's problem with "unrelated business income" solved by creating NOTIS Systems Inc. Endowed positions in library created by sale; + million in 2014 dollars.

1:48:20 Three main things Jane did to make the system more attractive to the broader market.

1:48:20 1) Real-time bibliographic interface

1:49:20 Bruce on GTO

1:53:05 Central State's OCLC Transfer

5/8 of recording

1:54:35 GTO improvements: error handling; robustness; handling of RLIN (and other vendors); COMARC, Cooperative MARC Cataloging

2:01:20 2) Keyword/Boolean

2:01:20 Importance of

2:04:45 Difficulties implementing

2:06:10 "Wave in the marketplace of people wanting keyword/Boolean"

2:09:45 3) Packaging: training, documentation, and support

2:13:00 "Jane committed to things without telling anyone"; prioritization of fixes

2:14:40 "I know of no other software company in which the salesperson had carte blanche"

2:15:20 To noble-minded people, the greatest satisfaction comes from the creation of a really good system which serves their clientele (Northwestern University Library) … really well.

3/4 of recording

2:17:10 "in terms of actual profit"

2:17:30 Jerry: Keyword/Boolean is a very interesting and challenging function which I think Jim and Kenton could have done very well.

2:18:30 J: The indexes are 10 times the size of the bib data; speed/efficiency really important.

2:20:05 Reasons for NOTIS' success….

"Support of full MARC record"

Bruce: Tight integration ("in early ‘70's they were all silo systems")

2:22:50 K: "I don't recall many other vendors having strong authority-handling capabilities"

2:25:25 K: "It's about 50/50 [between IBM hardware/software & NOTIS programming efficiency]". By early ‘90's minis had caught up; but efficiency of Assembler code was still a real advantage.

2:28:45 K: Marketing; 100 percent of ARLs could have benefitted from NOTIS; overseas sales: "missed opportunity"?

2:32:00 "What would have happened if Jane hadn't come into the picture"

2:32:35 How important was running on IBM?

2:33:30 K: "I'm not aware of too many institutions that were trying to do administrative computing on anything other than IBMs."

2:34:15 K: "I do mean that Geac was "Brand X". No university bought Geac hardware --except for the library."

2:36:00 J: 2/3 of revenue from MVS sites (running on shared computers)?

2:39:00 K: Another advantage: "The fact that NOTIS did not start out as a commercial product." Jim and Velma were important factors in success.

  • 7/8 of recording

    2:41:20 Natural proselytizing: "NUL staff moved to other libraries."

    2:42:15 How about NOTIS giving customers the source code?

    2:43:30 K: Distribution of object code: "You need a pretty good-sized client base to take that on."

    2:44:30 K: "For products at a certain price point it [distributing source] is definitely the way to go."

    2:45:30 K: "It was licensed source code [different than open source code]. That was, at the time, IBM's business model."

    2:46:40 K: [By getting away from source code distribution] "IBM shot themselves in the foot."

    2:47:10 Use of Assembler.

    2:50:00 K: "People who've worked with other computers' assembly language don't appreciate that IBM Assembler was actually pretty easy to code."

    2:50:40 J: Use of comments on most lines made the code quite intelligible – even for someone who knows nothing about Assembler.

    2:51:55 B: "Jim was actually far-sighted in picking the mainframe Assembler. "

    2:54:15 J: Good programming (in any language) involves the creation and extensive use of efficient subroutines. "And I think NOTIS had some very efficient subroutines."

    2:58:15 K: "Every system that's been really successful has had a certain ‘sweet spot'."

    3:02:10 "NOTIS Horizon" became Voyager.

    "There are a lot of NOTIS-like features in Aleph."

    "Good features become the standard; they become known...."