Community handle: "Tom Morrison"
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Hometown: Greenville, South Carolina, USA
Software skills: COBOL, AcuCOBOL
My professional COBOL career began in the summer of 1968, when I was a summer intern at Ford Division, Ford Motor Company, where I was involved in the conversion of the dealer financial reporting system from Autocoder to IBM 360 COBOL. This was a really interesting job, with the awe inspiring sight of (quite literally) acres of 360/30s running in 1401 emulation mode, a high-end 360 system running 24/7 in an attempt to emulate the parts distribution system in almost real time, and even a trip to the engineering center where GE computers were in use to design cars. It was also Denny McLain's magic 31-win season; my boss and his boss took me twice to afternnon games, treating me to box seats.
After a few months in grad school at Berkeley, waiting for the job market to improve, I got simultaneous offers from HP and Texas Instruments, for almost identical salary amounts. The cost of living difference led me to Texas in 1973, where I lived until 2017. I worked on TI's Advanced Scientific Computer, on the operating system. After a couple years, I moved to the TI990 project, first to work on an 'operating system' for a TMS9900-based self-contained computer (contained in a Silent 700, actually). After this, I became the TI technical liaison to Ryan-McFarland Corporation (RMC), which had landed the contract for COBOL, Fortran, and Basic compilers for the DX-10 operating system. In this role, I got to write a lot of code (RMC technology used an OS interface layer which was provided by the computer vendor) and travel back to California.
In 1976, I left TI to work for the University of Texas on the support staff of the academic computing facility, mostly doing operating system work, but I also got awarded responsibility for maintaining the accounting and billing system which was implemented in Fortran. After about two years at UT, the phone rang. It was my former boss at TI, who was now at RMC, offering me a chance to move to California and work for RMC. Having just purchased a house, I knew there was no way I could take the offer and afford a house in southern California, so I turned him down. A couple weeks later, the phone rang again, and the offer was now to be the first Texas employee of RMC. I took that offer.
I worked for Ryan-McFarland/Liant since 1978, with two short jobs ‘on the outside’, one as a COBOL development manager for one of Liant’s major customers and the other with Motorola helping develop open and proprietary software strategies during the development of the 88000 RISC processor.
During my tenure with Liant I was the lead developer on RM/COBOL (1985 version), VP Development, led the VAR sales channel, and a principal developer for Relativity, Business Information Server, and other products. Beginning in 2005 I managed customer support and technical services (consulting and presales), and assumed responsibility for consolidating Liant's various case management and bug tracking tools to Salesforce.
In 2008, Liant was acquired by Micro Focus, and I joined the Customer Support group. I was later offered an opportunity to manage a development group in Austin.
In 2013, I accepted an offer to help Hill Country Software (HCSS) prepare for the next generation of law enforcement and court management software. HCSS was an early adopter of Business Information Server to provide a browser based user interface for its application. Moving from a mostly Web 1.0 UI to a hosted application involves many opportunities to apply XML based technologies to a robust application. I also developed the integration of eFileTexas (cloud-based court filings) into the HCSS CMS application. In late 2016, HCSS was acquired and I retired from salaried employment.
I continue a limited consulting practice specializing in integrating legacy COBOL applications to other technologies, especially web services and other XML-based technologies. I also provide services to RM/COBOL customers in upgrading and adapting data modernization tooling, particularly Relativity, and in tooling to assist application refactoring.