Excerpts from the reports

posted Nov 19, 2012, 9:54 AM by Jeff Ogden   [ updated May 16, 2019, 8:11 PM ]
I recently stumbled upon an interesting Web page at Newcastle University. It includes highlights from the annual Reports of the Director of the Computing Laboratory from 1957 to 1988 together with links to PDFs of the complete reports. The reports were written by Professor Ewan Page from 1957 to 1979 and Professor Harry Whitfield from 1979 to 1989. The Web page is https://web.archive.org/web/20160809162929/. Copies of the PDFs containing the full reports are also available on the MTS Archive.

I, of course, am interested in information about MTS. Here are some highlights:

1966-67 E.S.Page (Director) - (12.2 MB)

The outcome of all these deliberations [with British and American computer manufactures, the Ministry of Technology, the Computer Panel of the University Grants Committee, and members of the Computer Board] was that it would be in the national interest and in that of the two Universities [Newcastle and Durham] to order an IBM SYSTEM 360, Model 67, for installation as soon as possible in order to benefit  quickly from some of the advanced software developments being made in the United States and to gain experience of time-shared computing. The system was ready for delivery on the 25th September, 1967, but the unreadiness of the computer room to receive it caused a postponement until 2nd October. . . . Miss E. D. Barraclough has been appointed to the new post of Computer Manager of N.U.M.A.C. . . .

1967-68 E.S.Page (Director) - (7.07 MB)

Some time ago the Universities of Newcastle and Durham decided to co-operate in establishing powerful computing facilities for their use and this decision has led to the installation of NUMAC, the Northumbrian Universities Multiple Access Computer. This system, which is the most powerful in any British University at the present time, is the first to be owned jointly by two Universities. . . Since the System 360, Model 67 began its routine operation several systems have been operated and others studied. For most of the time there have been three sessions under the operating system OS/360 [and] two under the time-sharing system TSS each day . . . Some studies have been made of other time-sharing systems; the two of greatest interest were CP 67 created by a group in the IBM Company at Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Michigan Terminal System devised by Professor Gallar and his colleagues at Ann Arbor. We are now actively investigating the problems of implementing MTS on our system and are most grateful for the co-operation that we are receiving from the University of Michigan. We have benefited from the advice of Dr. Pinkerton of that University who is now on a visiting appointment at Edinburgh. There are a number of problems to be overcome before this system can be operated but we believe them to be only minor and hope to have trial operation in the early part of the new academic year. . . "

1968-69 E.S.Page (Director) - (6.67 MB)

"From early in the academic year the Michigan Terminal System has been operated for much of the normal working day of University staff and students, replacing the TSS/360 sessions which had been mounted experimentally since delivery of the machine. . . Batch terminals in Durham and Edinburgh as well as in Newcastle are served at the same time as typewriter terminals . . ."

1969-70 E.S.Page (Director) - (8.67 MB)

"The IBM 360, Model 67, has continued to run satisfactorily for three shifts during the week, and is increasingly being operated by certain users at weekends. . . The total number of terminals that are attached in Newcastle and Durham is 31 . . . The Michigan Terminal System which we run for most of the 24 hours cycle continues to develop with improvements being implemented by Mr. Barnett and his co-workers. ALGOL 60 and APL are both now available under MTS and ALGOL W has recently been inserted. The ability to share programs between users is now being exploited to enhance the performance for terminal users. . ."

1970-71 E.S.Page (Director) - (6.44 MB)

"The various legal and administrative arrangements for admitting the Newcastle upon Tyne Polytechnic to participate in the NUMAC operation were completed with the approval of the Computer Board and at the end of the year the arrival of an IBM 1130 terminal in the Polytechnic allowed a start to be made on this extension of the computing service provided by the central equipment based in the Computing Laboratory . . . The daily hours of operation of the Michigan Terminal System have been extended during the year so that for all but the earliest months of the period MTS has been available during the whole day, with the exception of a morning maintenance and systems spell and one for OS/360 jobs in the early evening. . . We have always found that exchanges of information with other universities operating MTS to be most useful and on a most cordial basis. These exchanges have been recently helped by the regular circulation of a Newsletter detailing problems, solutions and work in progress at the different establishments. Both Mr. Barnett and Mr. Whillance have taken the opportunity afforded by the attendance at a SHARE meeting to visit other centers running MTS. . ."

1972-73 E.S.Page (Director) - (7.99 MB)

"The first sentence of the corresponding section in last year's report stated that the computing services provided on the System 360, Model 67, had been as good as could be obtained with a saturated system. A reiteration this year is all that is possible. The machine has been switched on for even more hours and more useful work has been obtained in each hour, , , , From early in 1973, the first work was being performed over a link to the IBM 370, Model 65, at Cambridge. As is so often the case, the introduction of a new service fails to proceed quite as quickly or as smoothy as one would hope. . . . Even so, by the end of the period under review it has been possible to reduce the number of sessions under the control program OS/360 in Newcastle to two per week and so to increase the total time available under MTS by the sessions released and the time saved by fewer systems changes. Before too long we hope to have removed the need for any OS sessions in Newcastle and also to have made it sufficiently attractive to certain workers to transfer their computing from the 67 to the 165 , , , The surreptitious movement of some of the OS users to MTS is a tribute to the attractions of the latter system and the ease with which that conversion can now be made, but hardly helps our overloading problems on the Model 67. . . . The Michigan Terminal System itself has continued to provide a wide range of facilities for our users. Certain of the developments by staff in Newcastle have been aimed at improving the facilities for running student jobs. There are now batch monitors for each of Fortran, Algol W and PL/1 which permit prompt execution of a student job after it is submitted. By these moves we hope to be able to accommodate the considerably increased load of teaching on the 360 which will arise from the departure of the KDF9. . ."

1973-74 E.S.Page (Director) - (8.80 MB)

"The last several Annual Reports of the work of the Computing Laboratory have all referred to the saturation of our main computing equipment . . . It is very pleasing to be able to report that the [Computer] Board has indeed agreed to provide funds and that an IBM 370/168 is to be delivered at the beginning of 1975 and linked to the existing 360/67. . ."

1974-75 E.S.Page (Director) - (13.8 MB)

"Until the last few weeks of the year the main computing service has been provided by the 360/67 and the link to the 370/165 at Cambridge. . . . efforts have been directed to introducing the new 370/160 into service as early and as easily as possible. . . . The [acceptance] tests, started on April 9th with the whole of the new Computer complete, but without the modified selector channel for the 67. . . . The main tests went through with only minor problems and were successfully completed by April 16th. . . . The first priority once the 168 wqs available to NUMAC staff was to mount and demonstrate an OS/MVT system that could provide services to the Universities of the Scottish Regional Organisation who were to  e served from Newcastle when their IBM 370/158 was withdrawn. The next task was to implement the MTS system for the 160 to serve our own NUMAC users; a fortuitous visit to Europe brought Mike Alexander, one of the principal developers of the MTS system to Newcastle at just the right time and his help was valuable in reducing our problems. The air conditioning continued to disrupt software development and on top of this, industrial action was started by the operators, initially a boycott of certain duties but finally, a complete stoppage. . . . In the middle of July the air conditioning was first purged of its flora and fauna, MTS was ready to offer an experimental service on the 168 and the operators' dispute was settled. . . ."

1975-76 E.S.Page (Director) - (12.9 MB)

"Services have been provided during the year on the IBM 370/168 installed last year under two operating systems, MTS and OS, on the ageing IBM 360/67 under OS and, for a few users, on the Cambridge 370/165 under OS. . . ."

1976-77 E.S.Page (Director) - (10.5 MB)

"The major improvement made to the systems software during the year was was the implementation of a spooling system shared between the OS and MTS operating systems. This made it possible for jobs to be read in and printed out by either system . . . [and] to submit jobs from the same batch station for either system. . . ."

1977-78 E.S.Page (Director) - (11.6 MB)

"The principal change on the main service machine, the IBM 370/168, has been the trebling of its main memory [by the installation of four megabytes of EMM memory in April 1978]. This enhancement of the computing system has made it possible to perform much more computing for users, and to improve substantially the performance at terminals. . . . A major event of the year was the 4th MTS Development Workshop held in Newcastle, the first outside North America. Nearly fifty management and systems staff from the other seven MTS sites spent a week here exchanging experiences, planning tasks to avoid duplication of effort and all contributing to the development of MTS. . . ."

1978-79 E.S.Page (Director) - (9.56 MB)

"In the life of the Computing Laboratory 1979 will be looked back on as the interregnum year. Professor Page departed for Reading at the beginning of the year and the new Director of the Computing Laboratory, Professor Whitfield, will not officially take up his duties until January 1980. . . MVS was finally brought into service at Easter to replace the overnight MVT system [on the System 370/168]. Our plans to run MTS and MVS together under either the VM control program or our development of VM, the Hypervisor, have not yet been successful. . ."

1982-83 H.Whitfield (Director) - (10.3 MB)

"This year has seen the very smooth introduction of the IBM 4341 at Durham which increased the main computing resources of NUMAC by about a third. This, together with weekend unattended operation at Newcastle, has meant a very significant increase in the resources available to our users. . . it may well be necessary to move some students back onto MTS with a consequent reduction in service to research users. . ."

1983-84 H.Whitfield (Director) - (13.6 MB)

"Our most important activity this year has been the preparation of the case . . .for replacement of the IBM 370/168 in 1985. We are proposing to move towards a situation where most of the computing would take place on single-user workstations supported by large central server machines. Time-sharing, as we have know it for the past seventeen years, would be phased out over a period of some five years. . . To achieve an evolutionary development in this direction requires the ability to run our existing time-sharing operating system, MTS. The Computing Board, whilst approving our proposals for distributed computing, was unable to agree to the limitation to machines capable of running MTS. We therefore face the possibility that we may have to make a very disruptive change to a different time-sharing system. . ."

1984-85 H.Whitfield (Director) - (12.8 MB)

"Our most important activity on the Computing Service side of the Laboratory has continued to be the procurement of the replacement for the IBM 370/168. . . an Amdahl 5860 with 40 Mbytes of main storage is to be installed at Newcastle and the Durham machine is to be replaced by an Amdahl 470/V8 with 16 Mbytes of main storage. Both machines are expected to be in service in October 1985. In the event we still have IBM compatible machines on which we can continue to run our existing time-sharing system, MTS, at least for an interim period while we investigate alternative manufacturer supported systems capable of supporting distributed workstations. . ."

1985-86 H.Whitfield (Director) - (12.3 MB)

"The installation of the Amdahl 5860 in late September 1985 and its introduction into service in early October must be regarded as the major event of the year. The whole process went so smoothly (and unannounced) that users 'merely' noticed that the system had suddenly become much more responsive and five times faster. Work is now proceeding to evaluate VM/CMS and UTS (Amdahl's UNIX offering) as possible alternative operating systems to MTS in accordance with undertakings given to the Computer Board for Universities and Research Councils."

1986-87 H.Whitfield (Director) - (12.6 MB)

"The Amdahl 5860 has provided a very powerful and reliable base for the main computing service and has enabled staff to devote more of their time to other matters. . . Investigation of alternative operating systems has proceeded well and decisions will soon be made about the form of the service for the next few years. A major element in relation to longer term planning is our involvement in the WINE (Workstation Integrated Network Environment) Project, which, though started by the MTS community, aims to provide a distributed system environment (or Intersystem) independent of any particular operating system. A great deal of work has gone into planning the campus Ethernet. . . Users will have noticed the introduction of "Fawn Boxes" which enable simple vdu terminals to have full-screen management across local (and remote) networks. . ."

1988-89 H.Whitfield (Director) - (18.8 MB)

"On the Computing Service side of the Computing Laboratory the most important activities have been focussed on the development of networking services and the long term planning for the demise of MTS in 1992."