[emblem text] Stories From Our History

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Nano Systems

January, 1977, Mike Wolfe and I formed a software company. Lasted almost 2 years. We had worked together at
Price Waterhouse.

The design that followed me was for Pacific Brewers Distributors on a Microdata Minicomputer.
The language it used was developed by Dick Pick. A record in a table could be considered to be
a cube, and you could reference any point in the cube you wanted, and that point gould be any data type.
I loved it. dessigned properly, databases were very quick. Miiss the mark, and it was deadly slow.
I had adesign criteria - all orders (up to some number based on historicaal sales) entered by noon
had to be printed by 1:00 pm. The other issue was that we didn't get the hardware until 6 weeks
before thee 'live' date. We worked long hours (what else is new) And our first systems test was just
wo weeks before we were suposed to go live. Max number of orders entered, and we started the
printing. It finished printing with tie to print ten or so more left. Felt great.

One day, must have been in September, 1977, I received a call from a lady in Seattle who had been
referred to me by Jay. Seems that he was consulting to the firm that she worked for as a
part-time bookkeeper and part-time programmer. And in six months, she had stripped him clean.
Finally, he told her that "I can't answer your questions. But there is a fellow in Vncouver that can."
She came up for a product announcement on the Basic/4, we met and talked shop. Her name was Judy.
I ended up going down to Seattle on stray Saturdays to teach her.

One Saturday, she gathered a bunch of the other Basic/4 programmers in Seattle and I ran a improptu class.
We woud enter @(10;10) to place the cursor at that spot. As we approached a coffee break, one of the
programmers said that you could not do that as a direct string. So, I replyed, give me 20 minutes.
And at the end of coffee break, I showed him how. And why you should not do it that way.

You can do most anything you want with a computer, Whether you should, is another question.

Late one Saturday afternoon, she described an issue she was having with her system. Being late, I
"waved my hands at a solution", and left to return to Vancouver.

The next Friday, around noon, she called, and said:

"Do you remember the CHANGE you told me to make?"

Suddenly sweatting, I replied "Yes"

"It runs twice as fast!"

I was happy for her. Then I realized that she had taken an idea that I had "waved my hands at",
flushed it out, figured out how to insert it into her system, and it worked! A degree with honors in
English from what is now the University of Alaska, no math or science background.

What a talented woman.

Talented people come in all sizes, shapes and colours. Encouraage all of them.

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