OS/32 & Series 3200 SIG #5
by Stuart Baker
This is a difficult article for me to write -- I much prefer technical subjects, but this problem needs to be addressed. Bear in mind that this article represents the view of a long time OS/32 user and is therefore biased.
It is time to take a close look at the future of Interchange. I have seen this coming ever since the merger with Masscomp, but I have not wanted to deal with it. Before everyone gets depressed by all of the doom and gloom, I personally want to see Interchange continue as a viable users group.
When the Masscomp merger took place, Concurrent initially switched all of its efforts to the RTU line and almost killed the OS/32 line on the spot. After the initial swing to the RTU side of the house, Concurrent finally heard the outcry of the OS/32 users and began to soften its RTU only philosophy. (After all, OS/32 sales were still bringing in a substantial portion of their total revenue.)
As a result of the initial RTU-only approach to doing business, membership in Interchange dropped off drastically. The Interchange membership was almost exclusively made up of legacy OS/32 systems users, and Concurrent no longer seemed interested in them. In addition, most standards-based system users didn't seem to need or want a users group.
Now that the merger with Harris is proceeding, things have gotten even worse. Harris does not even have an active users group! The lack of a Harris user group may be indicative of the Harris philosophy of doing business, and that philosophy is showing up as an almost total lack of support for Interchange '96. The first hint of this lack of support showed up when the Interchange BBS could not be reached via the 800 number for almost two months!
Even prior to the Harris merger it had been a real battle to obtain an OS/32 system for demonstration purposes at the last several Interchange conferences. This year there will not be any OS/32 hardware present! In fact, we may not get much of any support from Concurrent for this meeting. Therein lies the problem. Since Interchange consists mostly of legacy OS/32 users, Concurrent does not see any benefit in continuing to support the organization.
At Interchange '96 we must decide whether Interchange should continue or be disbanded. I personally feel that with Concurrent showing so little interest in OS/32 users, Interchange is needed more than ever. We need an organization where OS/32 users can turn to each other for assistance. Without Concurrent's support, the third party companies that supply hardware, software and consulting services will be needed more than ever. Interchange can play an important role as a source of information relative to these valuable resources.
If Interchange is to continue, we will need to determine which services should be offered in the future. Interchange must become an organization that runs on a lean and mean budget, while still bringing maximum benefit to its users. Without Concurrent's support, there will have to be a substantial curtailment of services offered, or a large increase in user fees. Currently Interchange offers its users the following services (in no particular order):
We need to carefully consider the above services and possibly add new items to the list (like a web page). Next we need to organize the list by importance. This priority ranking is a requirement if we are to discontinue any services. Please give this list some consideration before attending Interchange '96 in Florida. If you can not attend this year's meeting, we are still interested in your feedback. Please send me your input, preferably by e-mail (see above for addresses), but by fax if you do not have e-mail access.
This is a call for all legacy OS/32 users to unite. We need to rebuild the membership so that Interchange can bring the community together once again. There are a lot of OS/32 systems out there that will be running for many more years. If we can once again have an active users group, we can help to keep OS/32 a viable platform for many years to come. There is a lot of expertise available for the OS/32 platform and Interchange can become the best method to access these resources.
Personally, I do not want to see such a long and happy relationship come to a close. I have known many of you for years and in some cases formed close friendships. I started working with an Interdata Model 4 in 1970, and worked closely with the 3200 Series machines all the way to the Micro 5. I even had the dubious pleasure of running OS/32 MT R00-00 Beta. I became an Interchange member in 1971 and was elected to the Executive Committee in 1976. I served on the Executive Committee from 1976 through 1984 and was president from 1980 through 1981. I have remained active in Interchange, submitting articles for almost every newsletter and attending every annual meeting.
Lets pull together and make Interchange a users group that all OS/32 users can be proud of. If you want to continue to get the most value out of your OS/32 platform, you need Interchange and Interchange needs you.
Well, that about does it for this issue. If you have any questions, you can reach me by phone, Fax or the BBS (if you can get on). Please keep in touch -- even if you don't see an immediate need for any OS/32 services.
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