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15 Dec 2002

Site History: System M

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Honeywell Camelback Road Facility (CRF), Camelback Road & Black Canyon Freeway, Phoenix, AZ, USA.

This building was a converted discount store, located seven miles south of the main Honeywell LISD plant at Thunderbird Rd. & Black Canyon Freeway, "Deer Valley Computer Park" (DVCP).

1973 Computerworld article about dedication of a new Honeywell Multics center in Phoenix (Thanks to Jerry Saltzer.)

System M moved to DVCP in 1987.

First Installed

6090 installed 11/72

Configuration: (1978)

Four 6180 CPUs,
1024K words MOS memory,
2 4 MW paging devices,
xx MSU0451 disk (150 MB each),
eight tape drives,
card reader & punch.

.. plus other equipment for System MB, including a GCOS system that ran CUESTA (see below).

Application areas

This system was run by the Multics Computer Center (MCC) organization and supported timesharing access for

New versions of system software were exposed here after they had been checked out at CISL and MIT. The System-M machine was also used for final packaging and tape generation for MR releases.

System MB was the part of System M that was used for benchmark support. CPUs and other resources could be switched from one machine to the other, allowing benchmark development while service was running, and then making a big configuration for actual benchmark runs.

Site Analysts and System Administrators

The Phoenix Multics development group played a major role in supporting System M, since it was an internal development site. Frank Martinson managed the group that kept System M going.

Lacy Johnson was the main system administrator.


The people who ran System M included Conrad Barriga, Gerald Cahoon, Willie Drumm, Kay Kaiser, and Harold Van Sant.

Field Engineering

Jim Combs.

Notable developments

MRDS, the first commercial relational database product, was developed at System M by Jim Weeldreyer and Oris Friesen.

Final Shutdown

November 1993


[PWB] CUESTA was the load generation software. It ran on a GCOS 3 machine at Camelback. I worked for Honeywell FSO (Federal Systems Operations) in the 77-79 timeframe doing GCOS and later Multics benchmarks, the most significant of which was the EOP (Executive Office of the President) benchmark. The EOP benchmark had a lot of word processing in it. I entered a TR about compose performance. A response from the developer of compose, Ed Wallman, likened using compose to do the tasks in the benchmark to using a 747 to retrace the first flight of the Wright Brothers. A followup mail from Ed's manager, Tom Van Vleck, suggested that a simple fill and adjust routine be written to do the job. I still have a copy of that email. One night on System MB (the benchmark system) I wrote that simple routine, and using it reduced the configuration that we ultimately bid by an entire CPU. A few months later I joined Multics development and one of my first tasks was to make that fill and adjust routine a product. It (format_document) was never widely used, but its subroutine interface (format_document_) was used by several Multics subsystems including the mail system and forum.

[PWB] The RPV of the last instance of System-M was taken apart, its platters engraved and given as mementoes to the remaining Phoenix Multicians at (by then) Bull. I have one in my garage.

[PWB] The CRF building has reverted to its original retail origins and is now "In-Door Swap Mart".

CRF building in 2003, Anthony Nemmer

The former CRF building, with the Indoor Swap Mart sign on it. Photo by Anthony Nemmer, Sept 2003. Click for a larger view.

[WOS, Nov 2002] I drove by the former Deer Valley Computer Park, and discovered that it has been converted (in part) into luxury apartments! The "new software building" still has a Bull sign, but the rest of the facility is long since re-used (there's a Fry's--grocery, I think--and some other mixed-use commercial, but the apartments were what really tickled me).

[PWB, Oct 2012] The CRF property, which has been home to the Indoor Swap Mart for several years, has been sold to Grand Canyon University, which itself is located about a mile west at 35th Avenue and Camelback.

Written 09/20/95
Updated 07/08/99
Updated 12/15/02
Updated 10/31/12
Updated 12/07/16