Gumps and Computer Standards

Jerry Garfunkel

  While attending hundreds of ANSI, ISO, CODASYL, PLSG, SPARC, WG4, CEG, ECMA, SMTG, OOC, WG11, WG10, X3, CBEMA, X3J4, SC22 committee meetings around the world,  I found myself "doodling" a lot.  Mixed in with all of my meeting and conference and panel notes over 20 + years, are hundreds of pages that look like this. While attending many committee meetings over the years, the Gumps became a traveling companion of mine in a sketch book.  It was another way to stay connected to Angie while I traveled to neat places.  
Bruce Miller was the CODASYL COBOL Committee (CCC)  representative from DEC (DIGITAL) for many years.  Bruce's voice was one of the well-respected voices on the CCC. When Bruce spoke, people listened.  His successors, Chip Rice and Tom Povey, continued that reputation. DEC, itself as a company, had a reputation for serious, careful, well-designed software development. They led the effort in the development of screen management standards.  Their leadership work resulted in a set of DEC proprietary screen management & development tools.

Lee Unterreiner has at various times been a primary and secondary member of various COBOL committees as well as a long time observer. Lee has served as my alternate at some committee meetings and I have served as his alternate at other times. Lee worked at Micro Focus for some time building application development tools.  Lee, like some of the others in the COBOL community has had a love and loyalty to the COBOL language. But even old loyalties must face current realities.  There just aren't enough COBOL believers to make it a viable application development tool any longer, says Lee.. It comes from a deep conviction that the structure of the COBOL syntax and semantics is outstanding, whether or not people appreciate it. Lee was one of the early Silicon Valley wizards. Lee is the architect behind Xpiditer, a popular mainframe application development tool in the IBM AD community. Lee grew up in Connecticut (UCONN);  he is happily married and lives in Silicon Valley.

Campbell, California February 1993
Roger Knights, is a COBOL expert from the Seattle Washington area. Somewhat like Bill Klein, Roger had a passion for perfecting the COBOL language - both in robustness and accuracy. Some in the standards community did not treat Roger's proposals and ideas seriously at first, but soon discovered the value of some of his ideas and his thoroughness. Roger was one of the COBOL colleagues who reviewed the final manuscript of my COBOL 85 Example Book before it went to the publisher.

The origin of the Gumps were drawings made in 1976
Mabel Vickers, was the primary representative for the US governments's National Bureau of Standards on the CODASYL COBOL Committee, the ANSI X3J4 Committee and the ISO SC/22 WG4 Committee.   The NBS was a division of the Department of Commerce at that time. Committee records may show DoC or NBS membership alternatively. Mabel's position made her a powerful "player" in the COBOL community.  It was her department that set US Government procurement requirements related to COBOL compilers and equipmenton which those compilers run. In other words, when Mabel spoke, all the computer manufacturers listened - closely. Mabel was an incredible encyclopedia of the COBOL language syntax and symantics.  She was respected by all. Mabel had a secret love for Railroads that no many knew about.

Colleague and friend Don Nelson - the Godfather of COBOL - created masterpieces of doodling art at each meeting.  I wonder if (and hope) Don saved his "doodles."  Don was already the chairperson of the CODASYL COBOL Committee when I attended my first meeting in December 1979 (Fort Lauderdale, Florida). I never served on the CCC under any chairperson other than Don Nelson. When I first met Don, he was a compiler developer for Control Data Corp, residing in the Bay area of California. He later left CDC and joined Tandem where he developed compilers. It was a sign of respect for Don, that wherever Don worked building compilers, those compilers were well respected in the IT community. For many years as chairperson of the CCC, Don also was the maintainer and chief editor of the COBOL Journal of Development - the "active" working document that was "mega" COBOL (meta-COBOL, beta-COBOL, future-COBOL)
After  years of bi-monthly meetings with the same group of people, it is natural that collaborative bonds would grow. This was certainly the case with the members of the various American and International committees of which I was a member (CODASYL, ANSI, ISO, et al). Some of the "regulars" with whom I've spend at least a few pleasant evenings in a pub somewhere around the world.  Some of those regulars were Bill Rinehuls, Bruce Miller, Don Nelso, Marilyn Sander, Mabel Vicker, Peggy Beard, Lem Skidmore, Don Schricker, Don Warren, Linda Willis, Ann Wallace, Jim Pantaja, Tom Povey, Bill Klein, Vicki Billings, Sue Anstead, Ray Fischer, Jean Sammett, John Brieschke, Chuck ? from Southern RR who married Ann ? from Univac, Chip Rice, Wim Ebbinkhuijsen, George Lewin, John Triance, Artur Reiman, Lee Unterreiner

Much of what I know about collaborative projects was learned around an international or American IT Standards committee table.  It was the ideal real life laboratory to learn about collaborative projects, including all of the rewards and all of pitfalls of collaborative project and committee work. These insights were applied to my training-program designs for corporate and government clients.  The longer and the more intense the colloborative experience the more effective can be its benefits. The COBOL community experiences this buildup in intensity shortly before certain administrative deadlines.

CCC = The Codasyl COBOL Committee    NCITS (ANSI) X3J4   = The American COBOL Committee  ISO WG4 = International COBOL Committee
CCC = The Codasyl COBOL Committee  •   NCITS (ANSI) X3J4   = The American COBOL Committee  • ISO WG4 = International COBOL Committee
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