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Oct 17, 2020


Dennis Gallagher

That was wonderful to read. Such a fine and detailed trip down memory lane for me. Bravo for writing it and for capturing this information while it exists in living memories.

Jim Stephens

This is a wonderful account to read, Chandru. I have some amount of George Steele's papers and it's interesting that Nelson had the association with him.

I'm curious if Ken Simm's basic used the BNF approach. I may have access to the Reality 1.0 which at some point was in common with Pick and Microdata, and hope to find some clues there. I'd thought that was from Tom Ells and his work in college, and some other discussions mentioned that.

I know that from talking to Al Weber that the Microdata replacement Basic was a common effort with he, Ells, Art Shahan and others.

We at Irvine Computer ended up with Ken Simms' timesharing customers and business as well as a bit of the support business when there was a 'lull' in the capability to run timeshare out of Pick Systems. We ran it till all the customers bought their own machines, or had other people come in and replace the functions with other approaches.

Very interesting customers.

I will also have to research how a 5mb drive ran on an 800. I know of the hardware on the 1600, and supported it for some time at Microdata, but I didn't know they got a controller running for the 800.

All of Pick's hardware interfaces to hard drives done inhouse were for Trident 50 and 200mb drives, which were better drives size wise for databases.

Rob Allen

Great article, this filled in lots of background that I'd never heard before.

One really minor clarification - ADP is indeed the company that writes some huge percentage of the payroll checks in the US, but it was a diversified company. The Employer Services division, the one that handled all those payrolls, never used Pick. Dealer Services was a separate division that served the IT needs of vehicle dealers. Their product was completely Pick-based for decades, and they still use Reality under their new name of CDK Global.

Pete Dick

A wonderful read. Having been involved since 1986, it was a great trip down memory lane!

Merry Player

Great article - thank you for sharing the article.
Only yesterday I found an old M800 (Microdata 800) key used to coldstart the box, along with monkey-trained switches to make the lights flicker on and off (aka :COLDSTART)


Thanks all! Had fun writing it. Jim, yes indeed was 5mb on the 800. We got 10 mb when we moved to aky park. Later 25mb from local company I forget name of. Ken's compiler was rule based but not bnf as I recall. Wish I could remember the article it was based on.

Fred Waltman

Next year will mark 45 years on Pick for me. If you'd asked if I'd still be working on it nearly a half century later I'd have said you were crazy.

My Microdata experience goes back a year earlier. While at Univ of Waterloo we had a Microdata 1600 in our computer lab and in one class we did real time control of a slot car set. Sensors would fire as a car passed over them and we controlled speed by adjusting the voltage to the track. Fun times.

In late 1976 while working in Toronto we did a French version of ENGLISH (FRANCAISE of course) to demo in Quebec.


Our disk wasn't big enough to hold two copies of everything so we jury-rigged having two dictionaries for one data file (made the DL/ID a q-pointer in the second file, IIRC)


Fred, congratulations! I often wondered when I might be getting out of Pick; luckily from '04-'19 I worked for a remote chief developer for a Nashville company. I often wondered, given my real lack of marketable computer skills, what I'd have one if Pick software really had "died".

Rafael Rivas

Rafael Rivas, excelente trabajo de historia del sistema operativo pick, para mi el mejor, tengo 62 años y vengo trabajando mas 40 años en pick y estoy activo todavía con muchas aplicaciones desarrolladas en pick-basic, mis inicio en pick fueron en los microdata/realty, y desde entonces que enamorado de pick, he trabajado con técnicos de los mini, realice conversiones de los minis a las pc xt, via cable puerto seriales, esto lo comento porque Fred, en sus historia menciono a microdata/reality, felicidades Fred.

pd: lo triste es que cuando yo no pueda seguir con pick, todo quedara en recuerdo no hay relevo, algo mas todos los clientes que tengo no quieren salir del Pick/D3.

Rafael Rivas

Rafael Rivas

Se paso por alto decir que las aplicaciones que he desarrolladas están realizadas en el generador de aplicaciones 4gl MAGICSOFT, de por Willie Toh., que mas nunca le dio soporte



Wonderful journey -- I enjoyed every bit, and it relates to my career as a scientific software developer for almost 45 years at two companies as an employee and consultant.
How does Pick work on a modern PC -- only on Linux ?? I was confused at times whether it was an operating system or a data base. Interesting that we also had a colleague who developed virtual memory management with an IBM machine language around 1974 so that the simulator could handle larger problems.

Chandru Murthi

hola rafael gracias. ¡Como yo, has trabajado mucho tiempo en Pick! Cuando decidí retirarme, pensé que me perdería la programación y el Pick, pero, curiosamente, no. ¡Ni siquiera tienes un sistema Pick ahora! Pero debería conseguir uno para acceder a mi tenis y otros archivos DB. Buena suerte.

Chandru Murthi

Gsubs, Pick's been quite resilient and is chugging along. Installs on PCs, most any server MS or many flavors of Unix. Software houses use pick backend and GUI front, the ease of application devel and change still rules. Nobody mentions "Pick" anymore, no marketing advantage and maybe some dis-!

Chandru Murthi

Oh, started out as an OS on many minis. When ported later via simulator, used underlying OS so became DB.


Chandru: You write nicely...especially for those who like biographies. Nice choice phrases like database helping democracy, Windows 11, etc. You should convert the blog to be able to be read by 2020 machines like smartphones -- instead of having to read it on a laptop. Thus my comments through email.. While I modeled chemical processes using spreadsheets, Indra worked with Cobol for Y2K conversions, and developed non-profit databases using Access. Good to know about Pick and NoSQL. I had the privilege to learn Fortran instead of French to fulfil language requirements for my Ph.D. during 1969-70. Nice history!!! this is longer than 3 tweets

Y N Rammurthy

made fascinating reading even to a chap like me whose acquaintance with computers has been minimal!
thanks for sharing. hope you write more.

Iqbal  Khan

Excellent Writing and I enjoyed every bit of it.
Next year will mark 40 years on Pick for me. If you'd asked if I'd still be working on it nearly a half century later I'd have said you were crazy. Introduced to Pick on my first job while converting from IBM mainframe to Pick and still working with Pick

Rappal Krishnan Ramanathan

Interesting. I read your post only now. I have been using Fortran to develop large FEM programs for a large part of my life. I joined
UCLA to do my Ph.d in 1970 after my Masters from IISc and Bachelors from IIT Chennai. I never heard of Pick database. I used to
work on my out of my own interest in Microsoft relational database on a PC from 1983 before and after I moved to India for personal uses.
Your story is interesting because it revolves around all the places I am familiar with having spent 15 years in LA.
R K Ramanathan

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