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13 Oct 2004

Selling Multics in the Midwest

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Bill Schulz

As a former Honeywell Systems Analyst Manager (1970-1989) working out of the Omaha, NE sales office we had set up a BIG Multics dog & pony show at the University of Iowa and Ron Riedesel was the featured speaker (mid 70's?). We had the audience assembled; it was time to GO but RON WAS NOT THERE! Unfortunately, I was the next best person available to do the presentation and my knowledge of Multics was not quite a thimble full. Regardless, I strode to the front of the room trying to tell myself I would do OK (Ha!). THEN, fortunately Ron walked thru the door looking like Nanook from the North with some silly story of how he had to ride a tractor from his parents' farm home thru snowdrifts to a road where he hooked a ride to Iowa City. (I may have embellished..) The story was OK but even better, I was off the podium and Ron did his normal great job. That's not the end!

After the meeting adjourned, three of us (not Ron of course, the tractor was waiting) left for the Quad City airport to catch a plane back to Omaha only to be stranded on I-80 in a traffic jam for nearly 6 hours because of the heavy snow fall. Larry Thomas (Tech. Specialist) and Marlin Ritzman (Sales Mgr) were with me. Freezing cold, guys in suits, rental car low on fuel, no food/water, snow up to our butt, ahhh, what a way to spend an Iowa night. The guy in the car in front of us had even less fuel so he had to shut off his engine (and heat source) to conserve. At that point we were all compatriots and when we discovered he had a bottle of Southern Comfort he was invited to join us in our car (no dummies in our office). Eventually, we were able to get turned around and just drove west to Omaha arriving about 6:00AM as I recall. Never did sell those people any Honeywell gear either.

I also spent considerable time in Phoenix working on a Multics benchmark for Blue Cross out of Chicago I think it was. Oris Friesen, Bob May, Fred Zemmin, and Harry Quackenboss are folks I remember from those long days. There were lots of challenges (designing a TP on a napkin at lunch) but also lots of fun (time dulls the pain, eh?). Oh ya, now I remember how I got off on this tangent. I was setting up a BLOG and it struck me that we used something similar way back when, as a means of communicating with all the team members working all hours on the Blue Cross deal. Of course, it was Multics based! ;-)

Ron Riedesel responds: Those were the days, eh? I recall that snowstorm quite vividly - I had to ride through some 10-foot snow drifts on our neighbor's tractor to get from my Dad's house to my car to drive to Iowa City. The things we did for Multics! Quite an effort, for no sale!