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The Advent of the Mainframe Computer

In the fall of 1967 a representative of the McDonnell Automation Co., operating out of his office in Houston, Texas, was on a visit to Philadelphia, The purpose of this visit was to attend the laboratories of SmithKline & French in connection with a MCAUTO proprietary computer program that SK & F had bought for their in-house use. The MCAUTO representative was E.E, (Ned) Engman; the SK & F representatives were J.R. (Jim) Snyder and Susan Gallagher. The program was MCAUTO's Management Control System, the predecessor of its Management Scheduling and Control System.

The program ran on the IBM 1410, one of IBM's early tape oriented machines which was developed for business applications, but which found significant use in engineering design, logistics and the simpler technical applications, The program operated with four tapes, was reasonably reliable and "user friendly," but best of all, had Ned plugged in by MCAUTO to provide regional sales and assistance.

As he had done on a number of previous occasions, Ned Engman was on a routine sales and troubleshooting call. He enjoyed the customer contact and, as he had with a number of other customers, took advantage of the meeting to bounce around some ideas he had about where he thought project management should be going and hence what "computer support" should be provided. As an electrical sales engineer, his conversations were directed towards his interests in computers and networks. However, he was convinced that most programs up to that time, including MCAUTO's, had not adequately tapped the wealth of knowledge and diversity of project management practitioners.

This conviction was reinforced by chance input from random encounters with such people as Eric Jenett of Brown & Root, Inc. in Houston and John King with Bell Telephone Labs in Holmdell, New Jersey. Then again, if he never got it completed, where would he find the "prospects list" or the show or convention which really pulled out the people that would or should see a demonstration of an upgraded MCS program? Thus were sown the seeds of both MCAUTO's next generation MSCS as well as the Project Management Institute.

Concept gains ground  Concept Gains Ground

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