Software for the finest computer – The Mind

Archive for February, 2014


Posted by Tim Bryce on February 28, 2014


– Knowing one’s boundaries is always a smart move.

To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I’ve been married for over a quarter of a century now. This doesn’t necessarily qualify me as an expert in marriage, but I have learned a couple of things along the way. For example, the marriages that have endured over the years seem to be those based on situations where the couple have learned to compromise on a variety of things, such as food, music, sleep, driving, work, relaxation, conversation, family, religion; the list is actually quite extensive. In other words, there is a lot of give and take until the couple finds common ground in terms of their values and living habits. When this happens, the couple works more like teammates than as two individuals trapped in a relationship. If the couple can’t find the fulcrum, it’s just a matter of time before they are divorced.

As part of the compromise process, married couples unknowingly establish territories within the home. You won’t find the boundaries written on any map, but they are there nonetheless. To illustrate, garages, basements and attics are typically the domain of the husband, whereby things are maintained and organized in accordance with his wishes. Of course, the wife is welcome to visit the territory, but if she tries to reorganize it, she is met with stubborn resistance from the husband. Conversely, if the man decides to reorganize the bedroom, living room or kitchen, it is highly likely he will be met by Attila the Hun.

Bathrooms tend to be neutral territories as they tend to be shared. If bathrooms are separated for him and her though, then all bets are off and you have to have a visa to be granted entrance. The same is true with closets. Hallway closets tend to be open to the public, but personal closets requires an armed escort.

As long as the couple understands their territory and respects the borders accordingly, harmony will prevail in the household. If not, all Hell will break lose. So, as important as compromise is in establishing a successful marriage, an inherent part of it is knowing the boundaries of your relationship. It is better to live with a partner who knows and respects the boundaries of the territories as opposed to an invader who crosses them.

Originally published: 10/28/2008

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

For Tim’s columns, see:

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  YOUTH WILL HAVE ITS DAY – Some disturbing social trends I have trouble understanding.

LAST TIME:  CRAFTSMANSHIP IS A STATE OF MIND  – It is also a universally applicable concept.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific), and KGAB-AM (650) of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.


Posted in Marriage | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »


Posted by Tim Bryce on February 26, 2014


– It is also a universally applicable concept.

To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I have been writing on the virtues of craftsmanship for many years now. I have also given presentations on the subject and discussed it at length with different types of companies. Surprisingly, I find few people truly understand the concept. Perhaps the biggest misconception is that it is reserved for certain types of work effort. Some believe craftsmen are limited to furniture makers, machinists, or watchmakers. And, No, we are most certainly not talking about a line of tools from Sears. People seem surprised when I explain it is a universal concept applicable to any job. My message is simple: Craftsmanship is a state of mind.”

Years ago, Arnold Toynbee, the legendary historian and economist from the UK, made the observation, “The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.” Whereas some people like to separate their personal and professional lives, Toynbee rightfully makes the point there is physically only one person, and their personal and professional lives should be viewed as one and the same.

Craftsmanship is based on three rather simple principles:

First, in order to build self-esteem and give an individual a sense of purpose, we need to acknowledge, “Man must lead a worthy life.” This means people should be given meaningful work to perform, thereby creating the desire to master one’s craft. However, not everyone can be a wood worker, machinist, or watchmaker. Instead, they must find meaning in their chosen profession, which leads to our next principle…

Second, “There is dignity in all forms of work.” We should never look down our noses at anyone’s profession, assuming they are doing it competently and professionally. Regardless of the task, it is always a pleasure to be among people who know what they are doing, and perform it seemingly with little effort and a sense of class. In contrast, there are also workers who are apathetic, put forth minimal effort, and only watch the clock as opposed to the work product they are assigned to. Personally, it is difficult to respect such people.

Third, a simple recognition there are “right” and “wrong” ways for performing tasks. It takes discipline not to skip steps and put the work product in jeopardy. Understanding the differences between “right” and “wrong” is more than just training and experience, it also represents the morality of the worker. One reason craftsmanship is in decline is because of the eroding moral values of the country, such as the inclination to cheat.

These principles highlight the fact that craftsmanship is universally applicable. We can find it in any industry and any type of work, be it janitors, waitresses, programmers, managers, assembly line workers, hairdressers, teachers, engineers, athletes, musicians, the medical community, you name it. Craftsmanship is a state of mind. Think about it, who has impressed you not only by the job they did, but how they went about doing it? Inevitably, it is someone you respect, someone you will gladly give a reference to, someone you would like to emulate.

Craftsmanship requires more than just talent, it is a determination to be the best someone can be. Not surprising, there is a close relationship between craftsmen and the products they produce. Expressions such as “I built that” or “That was mine,” denote the pride they take in their work. Conversely, when someone makes a compliment about a product or service, the craftsman takes it as a personal compliment. The bond between craftsman and work product is so strong, the worker sees the product as tangible proof of their quality of work.

Years ago, people learned their craft through apprenticeship programs. Ben Franklin learned to be a printer at his older brother’s print shop. Likewise, young men learned a variety of crafts through such programs. Over the years though, we have drifted away from apprenticeships. Today, we rely on certification programs and college degrees, but this does not necessarily make someone a craftsman. It only denotes the student has learned something and passed tests and exams. Rarely does it give us insight into a person’s mastery of a craft, which cannot normally be evaluated until it is put into practice and studied over time.

In terms of skills, the craftsman must master several things:

* The resources used in the product. For example, a wood worker will know the differences between types of wood, their strengths and weaknesses, their suitability for the product, and how to work with it. Likewise, a machinist will understand the nature of the different metals he must use in his work.

* The methodologies to produce the product, representing the steps or processes of the project.

* The tools and techniques to be used in the development of the product, all of which may change over time. This means the craftsman is a student of his profession and possesses a sense of history to his craft.

Craftsmanship is something we have taken for granted for many years. Consequently, it has been fading from view. Interestingly, when I teach these concepts to students and business professionals, they are usually surprised by the simplicity of the concepts involved. I warn them though that craftsmanship requires a personality which includes such things as discipline, an intuitive mind, pride in workmanship, a willingness to be the best in your chosen profession, and some good old fashioned morality. Craftsmanship is not for everybody, but we should celebrate those willing to lead such an existence, for they are the people who create the products we admire and cherish.

For more information, see my earlier paper, “Craftsmanship: the Meaning of Life.”

If you want a presentation on craftsmanship, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

For Tim’s columns, see:

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  MATRIMONIAL TERRITORIALISM – Knowing one’s boundaries is always a smart move.


Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific), and KGAB-AM (650) of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »


Posted by Tim Bryce on February 24, 2014


– Or is it just isolated incidents?


To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

When did cheating become an acceptable form of behavior? Did I miss the memo? According to the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and the Ad Council, “73% of all test takers, including prospective graduate students and teachers agree that most students do cheat at some point, and 86% of high school students agreed.” Translation: cheating has reached pandemic proportions and is now an inherent part of the American culture.

It may start out innocently, but cheating rapidly becomes a lifestyle. We can now find it on school tests and exams, plagiarism, cheating on our taxes, etc. I have a friend who teaches illustration at a Midwest college. Recently he told me his students were copying the illustrations of other students as found on the Internet. My friend rightfully resents being turned from a full-time instructor, to a part-time sleuth to determine if his students are doing original work. I have heard of college students copying term papers, but artwork?

Students are also hacking into school computers to gain access to exams and alter grades and scores. A prime example of this was recorded last month in Los Angeles where eleven high school students were caught hacking into the school’s computers. Subsequently, they were expelled. This scandal captured the attention of the press, as well as the FBI who joined the investigation.

Cheating has also extended into the military where scandals have recently emerged, such as the Navy sailors who stand accused of cheating on tests training for nuclear reactors. Likewise, the Air Force discovered officers cheating on proficiency tests to launch nuclear weapons. These stories are particularly disturbing when you consider these people are managing our military nuclear resources. Obviously, we want people who can be trusted and are proficient in these positions, not someone of questionable character.

In the Information Technology community, it is not uncommon for employees to hack and steal program source code, thereby expediting the production of programming. This occurs so often, it is now considered SOP in many companies. Such attitudes obviously present a threat to intellectual property and a disregard for our laws pertaining to copyrights, patents, trade secrets, and trademarks. Frankly, it is a violation of the “Copyright Clause” of the Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 8) whereby, “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” From this perspective, cheating is unpatriotic.

If caught, cheating results in a variety of penalties, be it a fine, a suspension, an expulsion, etc., all of which becomes a part of a person’s permanent record, and I do not believe young people understand this until it is too late. Perhaps the biggest danger is it may do irreparable harm to a person’s reputation. To illustrate, I know of a student who, after graduating from college, produced a resume with false college scores to secure a well paying job. Remarkably, he was caught by the employer who pressed charges against him. Even though the matter was settled nearly forty years ago, his High School classmates have not forgotten and whisper about it at reunions, even to this day. In the eyes of the other students, his reputation remains in tatters.

Cheating ultimately denotes a person’s character; is he honest and capable of performing the work, or incompetent and inclined to cut corners? Even though cheating appears to be on the rise, evidently there is little shame in getting caught. Perhaps it is a new twisted red badge of courage awarded to those who somehow beat the system. If we are to believe the recent cheating statistics and scandals, we can reasonably conclude there is no longer any disgrace in cheating, and it will likely continue unabated. All of this reveals the declining moral values of the country.

Perhaps the only way to stop cheating is to make the punishments more severe. If shame cannot deter people, perhaps stiffer penalties are in order. Such should rightfully be the price of cheating.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

For Tim’s columns, see:

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  CRAFTSMANSHIP IS A STATE OF MIND – It is also a universally applicable concept.

LAST TIME:  BRYCE’S LAWS ON LIFE  – We’ve done management, systems, and project management, now how about Life?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific), and KGAB-AM (650) of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Social Issues, Society | Tagged: , , , , | 8 Comments »


Posted by Tim Bryce on February 21, 2014


– We’ve done management, systems, and project management, now how about Life?


To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

We introduced the concept of “Bryce’s Laws” back in the 1970’s as a means to explain our concepts of systems, data base management, and project management. Over the years though, we introduced many other axioms applying to life in general which we hope you will find beneficial. Enjoy!

You cannot treat a patient if he doesn’t know he is sick.

A man’s trustworthiness is measured by the number of keys he holds.

Most children are raised by amateurs, not professionals.

Never trust a person who doesn’t have at least one known vice (e.g., drinking, smoking, swearing).

Don’t watch the clock, watch the product or service to be produced.

Lawsuits primarily benefit the attorneys and nobody else.

You eat elephants one spoonful at a time.

If you are not pissing someone off, you are probably not doing your job.

If the mind really is the finest computer, then there are a lot of people out there who need to be rebooted.

We tend to worry about the wrong things. This is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

It’s hard to keep going forward when logic tells you otherwise.

Forget about today, build for tomorrow.

As the use of technology increases, social skills decreases.

There is more to building a team than buying new uniforms.

How we look and act speaks volumes.

Everything begins with a sale.

“Bullshit” is the most versatile word in the English language.

Just because someone understands what you are saying, doesn’t mean they necessarily agree with you.

Never let a job be held hostage by an employee.

The Baby Boomers will be more remembered for the problems they left behind as opposed to anything they accomplished during their tenure.

Youth is our only true vacation in life, and our most unappreciated.

There is no such thing as a bad cigar. It’s a matter of matching the right person with the right cigar.

We write to communicate, not to put people to sleep.

If you do something wrong long enough, you think it is right.

It’s not the time you put in, it’s the work product you put out.

Simple economics motivates everyone, particularly politicians.

Your most lethal weapon is your mouth.

Nothing irritates your opponents more than to see you succeed when you are expected to fail.

Do not underestimate the power of the company party.

Progress is arrested when we surrender to the status quo, that we no longer strive to exceed it.

If a single picture is worth a thousand words, imagine what a video provides.

It takes a brave soul to divert from the path of least resistance.

Appearances mean little if people can see through your disguise.

It is a fallacy that a cluttered desk is the sign of a brilliant mind.

The naysayers of the world take pleasure in chiding you as to what cannot be done.
Prove them wrong and return the favor.

Sometimes intelligence is nothing more than experience in disguise.

How to become financially responsible: Start each day by paying a bill.

The road to truth is rarely without bumps and bends.

The longer you delay admitting a mistake, the more expensive it will be to correct.

All arguments are settled at the cemetery.

There is always a heavy price to pay for keeping up with the Jones’.

Two irrefutable facts regarding investing in the stock market: The moment you purchase a stock, you can count on it declining immediately, and; The moment you sell your stock, it will either immediately soar to new heights, split, or both.

You know you are getting older when you begin having arguments with inanimate objects, and you lose.

Everything eventually ends up in the garbage dump.

Traffic lights are green only when you do not have an appointment to make.

In every person’s life, you must eat at least one spoonful of dirt.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

For Tim’s columns, see:

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  HAS CHEATING REACHED PANDEMIC PROPORTIONS? – Or is it just isolated incidents?

LAST TIME:  THE MYTH OF EQUAL PAY  – In capitalism, there is no such thing; it’s what the market bears.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific), and KGAB-AM (650) of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Life, Society | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »


Posted by Tim Bryce on February 19, 2014


– In capitalism, there is no such thing; it’s what the market bears.

To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

The president has seized upon the concept of “equal pay,” not so much from a gender equality perspective, but taking umbrage with CEO’s of big businesses making millions, while others struggle with minimum wage. Translation: the distribution of wealth. There is no doubt we are witnessing some rather obnoxious economics today, particularly by athletes, entertainers, the media, CEO’s and politicians. For example, I never understood how a backup catcher in baseball, who does nothing more than warm-up relief pitchers, can earn a million dollars. Nor do I understand why people pay exorbitant ticket prices for sporting events, particularly at the Super Bowl where it costs as much as $2,400 for the worst seat in the house. Then there is the matter of paying over $4M for a 30 second ad during the Super Bowl.

Although I find it disturbing people willfully pay for such obnoxious economics, I am fully aware of the concept involved, which is “capitalism” representing what the market will bear.

On a recent Fox News segment, I heard liberal commentator Bob Beckel champion the concept of “equal pay,” that CEOs should not be paid bloated salaries while the workers are paid much less. Beckle balked at suggesting a salary cap for executives, probably because he is reported to have a personal net worth of $10M. Naturally, this would preclude him from asking for more money for his media appearances and columns (see “hypocrisy”). In other words, he has no means for setting the bar as to what would be fair and equitable.

We may be born equal, but what we do with our lives is ultimately up to the individual. Some may become inventors, pioneers, writers, craftsmen, and captains of industry; others will become thugs and wards of the state, blaming their woes on others as opposed to assuming responsibility. Some people will succeed, some will fail, all of which is referred to as “natural selection” a la Charles Darwin. For example:

* If the minimum wage is raised, and jobs disappear, it is “natural selection” within the free market.

* If athletes and entertainers keep raising their salaries, and ticket sales fall off, it is “natural selection” within the free market.

* If the price of a product is raised to the point where people stop buying it, it too is “natural selection.”

“Natural selection” is capitalism in action.

Socialism is “unnatural selection” and the antithesis of capitalism. For example:

* If money is taxed from the rich and given to the poor, the rich will be less likely to invest in undertakings that will produce jobs and stimulate the economy.

* Likewise, if government bureaucracy inhibits companies with stifling rules and regulations, it too will have adverse effects on jobs and the economy.

* If prices are defined by the government and not the market, it is “unnatural selection.”

The concept of a “free market” is a capitalist concept, not socialist. It means the market can behave unfettered from artificial restraints as imposed by government. To make it work though, you must assume responsibility for your actions and understand the prospect of risk. The same people who endorse equal pay, are the same who refuse to assume responsibility and risk. They want it all without having to earn it which, of course, is socialism.

If you are concerned about obnoxious economics, as I am, please be mindful that every time you order expensive tickets or merchandise, or purchase $10 hot dogs and beers, you are endorsing capitalism. If the market fails to bear idiotic prices, they will inevitably go down, naturally.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

For Tim’s columns, see:

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  BRYCE’S LAWS ON LIFE – We’ve done management, systems, and project management, now how about Life?

LAST TIME:  THE TRUTH ABOUT PROJECT MANAGEMENT PACKAGES  – Do they truly support project management or are they glorified punch clocks?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific), and KGAB-AM (650) of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Economics, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 7 Comments »


Posted by Tim Bryce on February 17, 2014


– Do they truly support project management or are they glorified punch clocks?

To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I was recently researching project management software for a client. Such software is certainly not new and can be traced back to their origins in the 1960’s with mainframe based packages. Some of the earliest applications of computers in the 1950’s were for such purposes, particularly estimating and scheduling. Nonetheless, I was looking for a PC based package that could also be implemented on smart phones, and geared to reporting an employee’s time. Frankly, I was disappointed with what I found.

I looked at dozens of packages, some free, others for a price; some were PC based, others were “cloud” based, and some were implemented over the Internet. The graphical input was easy on the eyes, but virtually none could implement what I was looking for, regardless of how well they were evaluated by software researchers. Frankly, I think they were looking at the wrong features. Instead of determining their suitability for project management, they only consider the programming, and by doing so, they have missed the boat.

The biggest problem I saw was they all supported the concept of “Man Hours,” which has long been considered a fallacious concept in project management circles. “Man Hours” is nothing more than “Elapsed Time” which doesn’t consider how time is utilized, for example, real work (Direct time) versus interferences (Indirect time). The differences are important. Since Direct time represents worker effort, it should be up to the worker to estimate and control. Indirect time keeps the worker away from his/her assignments and, as such, is up to the manager to control. The analysis of time in this regard is considered an “Availability Rate” matching the Indirect time against the total available time. Office workers typically have a rate of 70% (approximately 5.6 Direct hours in a business day), and construction workers typically have a rate of 20% (approximately two direct hours in a day). By analyzing time this way, more realistic project estimates and schedules can be calculated. As an aside, in no way should Availability Rate be considered a measure of productivity or efficiency; it is nothing more than an analysis of the use of time.

This concept originated from the construction industry back in the 1950’s. As simple and effective as it is, virtually none of the software products I studied took this into consideration, consequently they deal only in “Man Hours” and I suspect their customer’s ability to complete project assignments on time is weak. Further, by not distinguishing the differences between Direct and Indirect, it is likely their customers are micromanaging their workers. In other words, workers are managed top-down, not bottom-up where worker input is used to formulate estimates and schedules.

I also observed some of the packages clung to the concept of “percent complete” for a given task, another fallacious concept. Instead of asking workers the amount of time remaining on a task, they are asked to input the duration of the task thus far. As history shows us, even if a task is 99% complete, the last one percent can seemingly take an eternity. For more information on this, see “Estimate to Do versus Percent Complete.”

Again, all of the project management packages I researched looked slick, but virtually none could solve true project management problems. As such, they were nothing but glorified punch clocks. I find it rather ironic that despite the advances we have made in computing, perhaps the best approach to project management is a paper based solution. I guess I’ll just have to keep looking.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

For Tim’s columns, see:

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE MYTH OF EQUAL PAY – In capitalism, there is no such thing; it’s what the market bears.

LAST TIME:  WHAT’S IN A NAME: TOILETS  – 15 interpretations for the same thing.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific), and KGAB-AM (650) of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Management, Project Management, Software, Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »


Posted by Tim Bryce on February 14, 2014


– 15 interpretations for the same thing.

To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

For some reason, Americans insist on giving multiple names to the same object. I’m not sure why, perhaps it is because of our melting pot of ethnicities where we bring different languages and customs to the table. This seems to be particularly true when discussing matters related to religion, race, sex, or the bathroom. For example, consider the word “Toilet” and the many derivatives thereof.

Toilet –
According to the Online Etymology Dictionary (OED), it comes from the French “toilette” (cloth, wrapper). In 1819, it came to mean “a dressing room,” especially one with a lavatory attached. “Toilet paper” is attested from 1884 (the Middle English equivalent was “arse-wisp” which, to me, is a bit of a visual).

Bathroom –
You would think this goes back to the Roman bath houses, but evidently it does not. OED explains it goes back to 1780, from bath + room. Originally a room with apparatus for bathing; in the 20th century, it became a euphemism in the United States for a lavatory and often noted as a word that confused British travelers.

Washroom –
I heard this term frequently up in New England, but it dates back to 1864 as a euphemism for toilet in this country.

Powder Room –
I couldn’t find much on this expression, other than it has been used by the ladies for several years. Men have always wondered what was being powdered in there.

Lavatory –
Is the most popular term for toilet. When I first heard it as a youngster in school, I innocently thought they were saying “laboratory” and pondered what experiments were being conducting in there. Perhaps something by Dr. Frankenstein. According to OED, the expression is derived from the Latin: “lavatorium,” which in turn comes from Latin “lavo” (“I wash”). The word was originally used to refer to a vessel for washing, such as a sink/wash basin, but eventually came to mean a room with such washing vessels and, consequently, a “place for washing.” I believe Igor hands out towels there.

Latrine –
Is often used by the military (as is “The Head”). The term is actually derived from the Latin “lavatrina” meaning bath. Its appearance in the 1640s is probably borrowed from the French. “Latrine rumor” is gossip of the kind spread in conversations in latrines, and is military slang, first recorded in 1918 during World War I.

Outhouse –
I thought this was as American as apple pie, but it definitely is not. According to OED, it goes back to the early 14th century and is simply a combination of out + house. Its first use in America is attested in 1819. I wondered if they had any Sears catalogs back then?

privy –
Is a term more familiar to Europeans than Americans, and is nothing more than another word for “outhouse.” OED claims it is from the Old French privé, privee “latrine,” meaning “private place.”

Loo –
This is a British expression that usually produces a giggle from Americans unfamiliar with it. Although is is likely it is a slang derivative of “lavatory,” the origin of the word is unknown. I originally believed it to be spelled “lieu,” but the British got to it before I did.

Water Closet –
Another British expression. OED explains it was an early term for an interior or exterior room with a flushing toilet in contrast with an earth closet usually outdoors and requiring periodic emptying as “night soil.” Originally, the term “wash-down closet” was used.

Pail closets –
An outdoor solution featuring a pot and outhouse arrangement. They were introduced in England and France in an attempt to reduce sewage problems in rapidly expanding cities.

Chamber pot (aka “The Pot”)
– a receptacle in which one would excrete waste in a ceramic or metal pot. Among Romans and Greeks, chamber pots were brought to meals and drinking sessions. I think I would pass on such an appetizing engagement.

The Head –
is primarily used in the military. According to Wikipedia, it is a ship’s toilet. The name derives from sailing ships in which the toilet area for the regular sailors was placed at the head or bow of the ship.

Little boy’s/girl’s room –
a euphemism for toilet. It is certainly not restricted to children or those that are vertically challenged.

Crapper –
is named for Thomas Crapper, a London plumber who popularized the toilet in the 19th century. It’s hard to believe a man who greatly facilitated sanitation, saw his name change into an uncomplimentary slang expression. Such is the price of fame.

pissoir –
according to Wikipedia, it is a French invention common in Europe that allows for urination in public without the need for a toilet building. Such facilities can be found throughout Europe and Asia. But blame the French for the name.

So there you have it, 15 names for essentially the same object. There is probably many more I have overlooked, but you get the idea.

Now about all of the names we use for religion, race, and sex… Only in America.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

For Tim’s columns, see:

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE TRUTH ABOUT PROJECT MANAGEMENT PACKAGES – Do they truly support project management or are they glorified punch clocks?

LAST TIME:  THANK GOD FOR FOX NEWS  – Love them or hate them, we need Fox.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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Posted by Tim Bryce on February 12, 2014


– Love them or hate them, we need Fox.

To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Liberals show nothing but contempt for Fox News, calling them such names as, “Faux News,” “Fox State Television,” “Fox Snooze,” “Fox Spews,” and many others which I cannot mention here. Why the contempt? Two reasons, first; they believe Fox is an arm of the GOP or Tea Party, that they are the voice of conservatism, all of which results in a “Pavlov’s Dog” reaction by the left. So much so, they desperately want to see the network muzzled. The second reason though is they are mortified by the success Fox has had over the years. For twelve consecutive years now they have soundly trounced all of the other news networks, such as MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, and Headline News. Fox News regularly puts up impressive numbers which seems to drive the left bananas. They simply do not comprehend why anyone watches it.

People in general are suspicious of the main street media as they perceive it to be leaning to the liberal side of the spectrum, as opposed to responsible journalism. Had they been doing their job properly, Fox News would never had gotten off the ground, but they didn’t. Fox News may not be perfect, but people believe they are more “fair and balanced” than the other networks, particularly with the input of liberal Fox contributors, such as Bob Beckel, Juan Williams, Alan Colmes, and others. Whereas the Fox prime time anchors may appear to be conservative, they do attempt to let the left have their say on their shows, such as Bill O’Reilly, Greta Van Susteren, Sean Hannity, and Megyn Kelly. As to the latter, it didn’t take long for “The Kelly Factor,” which began last October, to overtake MSNBC stalwart Rachel Maddow, much to the surprise of MSNBC executives.

Another reason for the preference for Fox is there are more conservatives than liberals in the United States, according to Gallup, 38% to 23%. If the mainstream media is perceived as liberal, it should be no small wonder why conservatives gravitate to Fox.

If Fox News didn’t exist, there would likely be only one interpretation of the news, and people would not understand both sides of a story. For example, consider the Benghazi attack where our ambassador and other people were murdered. The mainstream media tends to ignore the investigation as they do not perceive it as newsworthy. The IRS attacks on political groups is another significant story which is typically ignored, as is “Fast and Furious,” and other stories. Without Fox News there would not be a reliable venue for reporting the other side of the story and most Americans would know nothing about these stories. Had this occurred under a Republican administration, the main stream media would likely take the offensive, just as they had done under Nixon’s “Watergate,” or Reagan’s “Iran–Contra affair.”

This is why Fox News is so important, to hear the other side of the story. Unlike the liberals who want to close Fox down, most Fox viewers do not wish the same for their competitors. They may consider them irresponsible from a journalistic perspective, but they certainly do not want to censor their voice. If anything, they will exercise their right to chose, and turn the channel.

In this day and age of ideological differences, I cannot imagine a one-sided conversation of the topics. As I said, thank God for Fox News.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

For Tim’s columns, see:

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  WHAT’S IN A NAME: TOILETS – 15 interpretations for the same thing.

LAST TIME:  A SHORT HISTORY OF SYSTEMS DEVELOPMENT  – Which came first, systems or the computer?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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Posted by Tim Bryce on February 10, 2014


– Which came first, systems or the computer?

NOTE: People today believe information systems began with the advent of the computer. Hardly. Computers are but the latest method of implementation. Systems are actually as old as business, which obviously represents centuries. Herein I try to set the record straight based on my nearly 40 years in the industry. Hopefully, this will be interesting to system practitioners as well as those who use systems on a daily basis.

“If they do not have an appreciation of whence we came, I doubt they will have an appreciation of where we should be going.”
– Bryce’s Law


I always find it amusing when I tell a young person in this industry that I worked with punch cards and plastic templates years ago. Its kind of the same dumbfounded look I get from my kids when I tell them we used to watch black and white television with three channels, no remote control, and station signoffs at midnight. It has been my observation that our younger workers do not have a sense of history; this is particularly apparent in the systems world. If they do not have an appreciation of whence we came, I doubt they will have an appreciation of where we should be going. Consequently, I have assembled the following chronology of events in the hopes this will provide some insight as to how the systems industry has evolved to its current state.

I’m sure I could turn this into a lengthy dissertation but, instead, I will try to be brief and to the point. Further, the following will have little concern for academic developments but rather how systems have been implemented in practice in the corporate world.


Perhaps the biggest revelation to our younger readers regarding this period will be that there was any form of systems prior to the advent of the computer. In fact, “Systems and Procedures” Departments predated the computer by several years. Such departments would be concerned with the design of major business processes using “work measurement” and “work simplification” techniques as derived from Industrial Engineering. Such processes were carefully designed using grid diagrams and flowcharts. There was great precision in the design of forms to record data, filing systems to manage paperwork, and the use of summary reports to act as control points in systems. For example, spreadsheets have been extensively used for many years prior to the introduction of Lotus 1-2-3 or MS Excel. There was also considerable attention given to human behavior during the business process (the precursor to “ergonomics”).

Systems were initially implemented by paper and pencil using ledgers, journals (logs), indexes, and spreadsheets. We have always had some interesting filing systems, everything from cards and folders, to storage cabinets.

Perhaps the earliest mechanical device was the ancient abacus used for simple math (which is still used even to this day). The late 1800’s saw the advent of cash registers and adding machines as popularized by such companies as NCR in Dayton, Ohio under John Patterson who also introduced sweeping changes in terms of dress and business conduct. This was adopted by Thomas Watson, Sr. who worked for many years at NCR and carried forward these practices to IBM and the rest of the corporate world. Also, Burroughs was a major player in the early adding machine industry.

The first typewriters were also introduced in the late 1800’s which had a tremendous effect on correspondence and order processing. This was led primarily by Remington Arms (later to become Remington Rand).

In the early 1900’s, tabulating equipment was introduced to support such things as census counting. This was then widely adopted by corporate America. Occasionally you will run into old-timers who can describe how they could program such machines using plug boards. Punch card sorters were added as an adjunct to tabulating equipment.

As a footnote, most of what IBM’s Watson learned about business was from his early days at NCR. However, he had a falling out with Patterson who fired him. As a small bit of trivia, after Watson died, he was buried in Dayton on a hilltop overlooking NCR headquarters, the company he couldn’t conquer.

During World War II, both the U.S. military and industrial complex relied heavily on manually implemented systems. We did it so well that many people, including the Japanese, contend it gave the Allies a competitive edge during the war.

The lesson here, therefore, is that manually implemented systems have been with us long before the computer and are still with us today. To give you a sense of history in this regard, consider one of our more popular Bryce’s Laws:

“The first on-line, real-time, interactive, data base system was double-entry bookkeeping which was developed by the merchants of Venice in 1200 A.D.”

One major development in this area was the work of Leslie “Les” Matthies, the legendary Dean of Systems. Les graduated from the University of California at Berkeley during the Depression with a degree in Journalism. Being a writer, he tried his hand at writing Broadway plays. But work was hard to come by during this period and when World War II broke out, Les was recruited by an aircraft manufacturer in the midwest to systematize the production of aircraft. Relying on his experience as a writer, he devised the “Playscript” technique for writing procedures. Basically, Les wrote a procedure like a script to a play; there was a section to identify the procedure along with its purpose; a “Setup” section to identify the forms and files to be used during it; and an “Operations/Instructions” section which described the “actors” to perform the tasks using verbs and nouns to properly state each operation. He even went so far as to devise rules for writing “If” statements.

For details on “Playscript,” see – “The Language of Systems”

“Playscript” became a powerful procedure writing language and was used extensively throughout the world. It is still an excellent way to write procedures today. Ironically, Les did not know what a profound effect his technique would have later on in the development of computer programs.


Yes, I am aware that the ENIAC was developed for the military at the end of World War II. More importantly, the UNIVAC I (UNIVversal Automatic Computer) was introduced in 1951 by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly. The UNIVAC I was a mammoth machine that was originally developed for the U.S. Bureau of the Census. Corporate America took notice of the computer and companies such as DuPont in Wilmington, Delaware began to lineup to experiment with it for commercial purposes. The Remington Rand Corporation sponsored the project, but the company’s focus and name eventually changed to “UNIVAC” (today it is referred to as “UNISYS,” representing a merger of UNIVAC with Burroughs).

The UNIVAC I offered a sophistication unmatched by other manufacturers, most notably IBM’s Mach I tabulating equipment. This caused IBM to invent the 701 and its 700 series. Other manufacturers quickly joined the fray and computing began to proliferate. Although UNIVAC was the pioneer in this regard, they quickly lost market share due to the marketing muscle of IBM. For quite some time the industry was referred to as “IBM & the BUNCH” (Burroughs, UNIVAC, NCR, CDC, and Honeywell).

Programming the early machines was difficult as it was performed in a seemingly cryptic Machine Language (the first generation language). This eventually gave way to the Assembly Language (the second generation language) which was easier to read and understand. Regardless, many of the utilities we take for granted today (e.g., sorts and merges) simply were not available and had to be developed. In other words, programming was a laborious task during this period.

Recognizing both the limitations and potential of the computer, the 1950’s represented the age of experimentation for corporate America. Here, the emphasis was not on implementing major systems through the computer, but rather to develop an assortment of programs to test the machine as a viable product. As such, programmers were considered odd characters who maintained “the black box,” and were not yet considered a part of the mainstream of systems development. The “Systems and Procedures Departments” still represented the lion’s share of systems work in corporate America, with an occasional foray to investigate the use of the computer. The computer people were segregated into “computer departments” (later to be known as “EDP” or “Data Processing” departments).


Competition between computer manufacturers heated up during this decade, resulting in improvements in speed, capacity, and capabilities. Of importance here was the introduction of the much touted IBM 360 (the number was selected to denote it was a comprehensive solution – 360 degrees). Other computer vendors offered products with comparable performance, if not more so, but the IBM 360 was widely adopted by corporate America.

The programming of computers was still a difficult task and, consequentially, Procedural Languages were introduced (the third generation languages). In actuality, these languages got their start in the late 1950’s, but the proliferation of computers in the 1960’s triggered the adoption of procedural languages such as COBOL, FORTRAN, and PL/1. Interestingly, these languages were patterned after Les Matthies’ “Playscript” technique which made active use of verbs, nouns, and “if” statements.

The intent of the Procedural Languages was twofold: to simplify programming by using more English-like languages, and; to create universal languages that would cross hardware boundaries. The first goal was achieved, the second was not. If the languages were truly universal, it would mean that software would be portable across all hardware configurations. Manufacturers saw this as a threat; making software truly portable made the selection of hardware irrelevant and, conceivably, customers could migrate away from computer vendors. In order to avoid this, small nuances were introduced to the compilers for the Procedural Languages thereby negating the concept of portability. This issue would be ignored for many years until the advent of the Java programming language.

The 1960’s also saw the introduction of the Data Base Management System (DBMS). Such products were originally designed as file access methods for Bill of Materials Processing (BOMP) as used in manufacturing. The “DBMS” designation actually came afterwards. Early pioneers in this area included Charlie Bachman of G.E. with his Integrated Data Store (IDS) which primarily operated under Honeywell GCOS configurations; Tom Richley of Cincom Systems developed TOTAL for Champion Paper, and; IBM’s BOMP and DBOMP products. In 1969, IBM introduced IMS which became their flagship DBMS product for several years.

With the exception of IMS, the early DBMS offerings were based on a network model which performed chain-processing. IMS, on the other hand, was a hierarchical model involving tree-processing.

Realizing that programming and data access was becoming easier and computer performance being enhanced, companies now wanted to capitalize on this technology. As a result, corporate America embarked on the era of “Management Information Systems” (MIS) which were large systems aimed at automating business processes across the enterprise. These were major system development efforts that challenged both management and technical expertise.

It was the MIS that married “Systems and Procedures” departments with computing/EDP departments and transformed the combined organization into the “MIS” department. This was a major milestone in the history of systems. The systems people had to learn about computer technology and the programmers had to learn about business systems.

Recognizing that common data elements were used to produce the various reports produced from an MIS, it started to become obvious that data should be shared and reused in order to eliminate redundancy, and to promote system integration and consistent data results. Consequently, Data Management (DM) organizations were started, the first being the Quaker Oats Company in Chicago, Illinois in 1965. The original DM organizations were patterned after Inventory Control Departments where the various components were uniquely identified, shared and cross-referenced. To assist in this regard, such organizations made use of the emerging DBMS technology. Unfortunately, many DM organizations lost sight of their original charter and, instead, became obsessed with the DBMS. Data as used and maintained outside of the computer was erroneously considered irrelevant. Even worse, the DBMS was used as nothing more than an elegant access method by programmers. Consequently, data redundancy plagued systems almost immediately and the opportunity to share and reuse data was lost. This is a serious problem that persists in companies to this day.

1970’s – AWAKENING

Although the MIS movement was noble and ambitious in intent, it floundered due to the size and complexity of the task at hand. Many MIS projects suffered from false starts and botched implementations. This resulted in a period where a series of new methods, tools and techniques were introduced to reign in these huge development efforts.

The first was the introduction of the “methodology” which provided a road map or handbook on how to successfully implement systems development projects. This was pioneered by MBA with its “PRIDE” methodology in 1971. Although the forte of “PRIDE” was how to build systems, it was initially used for nothing more than documentation and as a means to manage projects. Following “PRIDE” was John Toellner’s Spectrum I methodology and SDM/70 from Atlantic Software. Several CPA based methodologies followed thereafter.

Also during this time, mainframe based Project Management Systems were coming into vogue including Nichols N5500, PAC from International Systems, and PC/70 from Atlantic Software.

The early methodologies and Project Management Systems give evidence of the orientation of systems departments of that time: a heavy emphasis on Project Management. Unfortunately, it was a fallacy that Project Management was the problem; instead people simply didn’t know how to design and build systems in a uniform manner. As companies eventually learned, Project Management is useless without a clear road map for how to build something.

In the mid-to-late 1970’s several papers and books were published on how to productively design software thus marking the beginning of the “Structured Programming” movement. This was a large body of work that included such programming luminaries as Barry Boehm, Frederick P. Brooks, Larry Constantine, Tom DeMarco, Edsger Dijkstra, Chris Gane, Michael A. Jackson, Donald E. Knuth, Glenford J. Myers , Trish Sarson, Jean Dominique Warnier, Generald M. Weinberg, Ed Yourdon, as well as many others. Although their techniques were found useful for developing software, it led to confusion in the field differentiating between systems and software. To many, they were synonymous. In reality, they are not. Software is subordinate to systems, but the growing emphasis on programming was causing a change in perspective.

The only way systems communicate internally or externally to other systems is through shared data; it is the cohesive bond that holds systems (and software) together. This resulted in the introduction of Data Dictionary technology. Again, this was pioneered by MBA with its “PRIDE” methodology (which included a manually implemented Data Dictionary) and later with its “PRIDE”-LOGIK product in 1974. This was followed by Synergetics’ Data Catalogue, Data Manager from Management Software Products (MSP), and Lexicon by Arthur Andersen & Company.

The intent of the Data Dictionaries was to uniquely identify and track where data was used in a company’s systems. They included features for maintaining documentation, impact analysis (to allow the studying of a proposed change), and redundancy checks. “PRIDE”-LOGIK had the added nuance of cataloging all of the systems components, thereby making it an invaluable aid for design and documentation purposes.

The Data Dictionary was also a valuable tool for controlling DBMS products and, as such, several adjunct products were introduced, such as UCC-10, DB/DC Data Dictionary, and the Integrated Data Dictionary (IDD) from Cullinet. Unlike the other general purpose Data Dictionaries, these products were limited to the confines of the DBMS and didn’t effectively track data outside of their scope.

DBMS packages proliferated during this period with many new products being introduced including ADABAS, Image, Model 204, and IDMS from Cullinet (which was originally produced at BF Goodrich). All were based on the network-model for file access which was finally adopted as an industry standard (CODASYl).

There were a few other notable innovations introduced, including IBM’s Business Systems Planning (BSP) which attempted to devise a plan for the types of systems a company needed to operate. Several other comparable offerings were introduced shortly thereafter. Interestingly, many companies invested heavily in developing such systems plans, yet very few actually implemented them.

Program Generators were also introduced during this period. This included report writers that could interpret data and became a natural part of the repertoire of DBMS products. It also included products that could generate program source code (COBOL predominantly) from specifications. This included such products as System-80 (Phoenix Systems), GENASYS (Generation Sciences), and JASPOL (J-Sys of Japan), to mention but a few.

MBA also introduced a generator of its own in 1979 – a Systems generator initially named ADF (Automated Design Facility) which could automatically design whole systems, complete with an integrated data base. Based on information requirements submitted by a Systems Analyst, ADF interacted with the “PRIDE”-LOGIK Data Dictionary to design new systems and, where appropriate modify existing systems. Because of its link to LOGIK, ADF emphasized the need to share and reuse information resources. Not only was it useful as a design tool but it was a convenient tool for documenting existing systems. The only drawback to ADF was that the mindset of the industry was shifting from systems to software. Consequently, program generators captured the imagination of the industry as opposed to ADF.

The increase in computer horsepower, coupled with new programming tools and techniques, caused a shift in perspective in MIS organizations. Now, such departments became dominated by programmers, not systems people. It was here that the job titles “Systems Analyst” and “Programmer” were married to form a new title of “Programmer/Analyst” with the emphasis being on programming and not on front-end systems design. Many managers falsely believed that developers were not being productive unless they were programming. Instead of “Ready, Aim, Fire,” the trend became “Fire, Aim, Ready.”

Data Management organizations floundered during this period with the exception of Data Base Administrators (DBA’s) who were considered the handmaidens of the DBMS.

The proliferation of software during this decade was so great that it gave rise to the packaged software industry. This went far beyond computer utilities and programming tools. It included whole systems for banking, insurance and manufacturing. As a result, companies were inclined to purchase and install these systems as opposed to reinventing the wheel. Among their drawbacks though was that they normally required tailoring to satisfy the customer’s needs which represented modification to the program source code. Further, the customer’s data requirements had to be considered to assure there were no conflicts in how the customer used and assigned data. After the package had been installed, the customer was faced with the ongoing problem of modifying and enhancing the system to suit their ever-changing needs.


As big iron grew during the 1960’s and 1970’s, computer manufacturers identified the need for smaller computers to be used by small to medium-sized businesses. In the 1970’s, people were skeptical of their usefulness but by the 1980’s their power and sophistication caused the “mini” computer to gain in popularity as either a general purpose business machine or dedicated to a specific system. Among the most popular of the “mini” computers were:

IBM’s System 36/38 series (which led to the AS/400)
DEC PDP Series (which gave way to the DEC VAX/VMS)
Hewlett-Packard’s HP-3000 series with MPE
Data General Eclipse series with AOS

The competition was fierce in the “mini” market which resulted in considerable product improvements and better value to the customer. Instrumental to the success of the mini was the adoption of UNIX as developed by Bell Labs, a powerful multi-user, multitasking operating system that eventually was adopted by most, if not all, mini manufacturers.

But the major development in computer hardware was not the mainframe, nor the mini; it was the “micro” computer which was first popularized by Apple in the late 1970’s. IBM countered with the its Personal Computer (PC) in the early 1980’s. At first, the micro was considered nothing more than a curiosity but it quickly gained in popularity due to its inexpensive cost, and a variety of “apps” for word processing, spreadsheets, graphics, and desktop publishing. This caught on like wildfire as micros spread through corporate desktops like the plague.

By the mid-1980’s the “micro” (most notably the PC) had gained in power and sophistication. So much so, that a series of graphical based products were used for software development in support of the Structured Programming movement of the 1970’s. Such tools were dubbed “CASE” (Computer Aided Software Engineering) which allowed developers to draw their favorite software diagramming technique without pencil and paper. Early CASE pioneers included Index Technology, Knowledgeware, Visible Systems, Texas Instruments, and Nastec, as well as many others. CASE tools took the industry by storm with just about every MIS organization purchasing a copy either for experimental use or for full application development. As popular as the tools were initially, there is little evidence they produced any major systems but, instead, helped in the design of a single program.

Recognizing the potential of the various CASE tools, IBM in the late 1980’s devised an integrated development environment that included IBM’s products as well as third parties, and entitled it “AD/Cycle.” However, IBM quickly ran into problems with the third party vendors in terms of agreeing on technical standards that would enable an integrated environment. Consequently, the product ran aground not long after it was launched. In fact, the prosperity of the CASE market was short-lived as customers failed to realize the savings and productivity benefits as touted by the vendors. By the early 1990’s, the CASE market was in sharp decline.

Instead, companies turned to Programmer Workbenches which included an all-in-one set of basic tools for programming, such as editing, testing, and debugging. Microsoft and Micro Focus did particularly well in offering such products.

Data Base Management Systems also took a noticeable turn in the 1980’s with the advent of “relational” products involving tables and keys. The concept of the “relational” model was originally developed by IBM Fellow and mathematician Edgar (Ted) Codd in a paper from 1970. The concept of a relational DBMS was superior to the earlier network and hierarchical models in terms of ease of use. The problem resided in the amount of computer horsepower needed to make it work, a problem that was overcome by the 1980’s. As a result. new DBMS products such as Oracle and Ingres were introduced which quickly overtook their older competitors. There was an initial effort to convert DBMS mainstays such as TOTAL, ADABAS, and IDMS into relational products, but it was too little, too late. As for IBM, they simply re-labeled their flagship product, IMS, as a “transaction processor” and introduced a totally new offering, DB2, which quickly dominated the DBMS mainframe market.

Program generators continued to do well during the 1980’s but it was during this period that 4GL’s (fourth generation languages) were introduced to expedite programming. The 4GL was a natural extension of the DBMS and provided a convenient means to develop programs to interpret data in the data base.

Another development worth noting is the evolution of the Data Dictionary into “Repositories” (also referred to as “Encyclopedias”) used to store the descriptions of all of an organization’s information resources. One of the motivating factors behind this was IBM (for AD/Cycle) who realized they needed some sort of cohesive bond for the various CASE tools to interface. This is another area pioneered by MBA who introduced their “PRIDE”-Enterprise Engineering Methodology (EEM) to study a business and formulate an Enterprise Information Strategy, and their “PRIDE”-Data Base Engineering Methodology (DBEM) to develop the corporate data base, both logically and physically. To implement these new methodologies, their “PRIDE”-LOGIK Dictionary was expanded to include business models, and data models. By doing so, MBA renamed “PRIDE”-LOGIK the “PRIDE”-IRM (Information Resource Manager) which complemented their concept of Information Resource Management.

In terms of the MIS infrastructure, two noteworthy changes occurred; first was the introduction of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) as first described in the popular book, “Information Systems Management In Practice” (McNurlin, Sprague) in January 1986. Basically, the MIS Director is elevated to a higher management level where, theoretically, he/she is operating on the same level as the Chief Operating Officer (COO), and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for a company. In reality, this has never truly happened and, in many cases, the title “CIO” is nothing more than a change in name, not in stature. The second change is the change in job title of “Programmer” to “Software Engineer.” Again, we are primarily talking about semantics. True, many of the programmers of the 1980’s studied Structured Programming, but very few truly understood the nature of engineering as it applies to software, most are just glorified coders. Nonetheless, the “Software Engineer” title is still actively used today. In contrast, the last of the true “Systems Analysts” slowly disappeared. Here too is evidence of the change of focus from systems to software.

During the 1980’s we also saw the emergence of MBA’s graduating from the business schools and working their way into the corporate landscape. Although they didn’t have an immediate impact on the systems world, they had a dramatic effect on the corporate psyche. Their work resulted in severe corporate cutbacks, downsizing, and outsourcing. This changed the corporate mindset to think short-term as opposed to long-term. Following this, companies shied away from major systems projects (such as the MIS projects of the 1960’s) and were content tackling smaller programmer assignments, thus the term “app” was coined to describe a single program application.

Interestingly, a “quality” movement flourished in the 1980’s based on the works of W. Edwards Deming and Joseph M. Juran who pioneered quality control principles in the early part of the 20th century. Unfortunately, their early work was unappreciated in America and, consequently, they applied their talents to help rebuild the industrial complex of postwar Japan. It was only late in their lives did they receive the recognition of their work in the United States (after Japan became an economic powerhouse). Another influential factor was the introduction of the ISO 9000 standard for quality management which was originally devised by the British and later adopted as an international standard. Little attention would probably have been paid to ISO 9000 if it weren’t for the fact that European businesses started to demand compliance in order to conduct business with their companies.

Nevertheless, these factors resulted in a reorientation of American businesses to think in terms of developing quality products which, inevitably, affected how systems and software were produced. The real impact of the quality movement though wouldn’t be felt in the systems world until the next decade.

To summarize the 1980’s from a systems development perspective, the focus shifted away from major systems to smaller programming assignments which were implemented using newly devised CASE tools. This fostered a “tool-oriented approach” to development whereby companies spent considerably on the latest programming tools but little on management and upfront systems work. In other words, they bought into the vendor’s claims of improved programmer productivity through the use of tools. Unfortunately, it resulted in patchwork systems that required more time in maintenance as opposed to modifying or improving systems. “Fire fighting” thereby became the normal mode of operation in development.


As the PC gained in stature, networking became very important to companies so that workers could collaborate and communicate on a common level. Local Area Networks (LAN) and Wide Area Networks (WAN) seemed to spring-up overnight. As the PC’s power and capacity grew, it became obvious that companies no longer needed the burden of mainframes and minis. Instead, dedicated machines were developed to control and share computer files, hence the birth of “client/server computing” where client computers on a network interacted with file servers. This did not completely negate the need for mainframes and minis (which were also used as file servers), but it did have a noticeable impact on sales. Companies still needed mainframes to process voluminous transactions and extensive number-crunching, but the trend was to move away from big iron.

Thanks to the small size of the PC, companies no longer required a big room to maintain the computer. Instead, computers were kept in closets and under desks. This became so pervasive that companies no longer knew where their computer rooms were anymore. In a way, the spread of computers and networks closely resembled the nervous system of the human body.

One of the key elements that made this all possible was the introduction of Intel’s 30386 (or “386”) chip which allowed 32-bit processing. To effectively use this new technology, new operating systems had to be introduced, the first being IBM’s OS/2 in the late 1980’s. OS/2 provided such things as virtual memory, multitasking and multithreading, network connectivity, crash-protection, a new High Performance File System, and a slick object oriented desktop. Frankly, there was nothing else out there that could match it. Unfortunately, Microsoft bullied its way past OS/2 with Windows 95 & NT. By the end of the 1990’s, OS/2 was all but forgotten by its vendor, IBM. Nevertheless, it was the advent of 32-bit computing that truly made client/server computing a reality.

Another major milestone during this decade was the adoption of the Internet by corporate America. The Internet actually began in the late 1960’s under the Department of Defense and was later opened to other government and academic bodies. But it wasn’t until the 1990’s that companies started to appreciate the Internet as a communications and marketing medium.

The first web browser was developed by Tim Berners-Lee in 1990 which led to the World Wide Web protocol on the Internet. Early web browsers included Mosaic, Netscape Navigator, and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, among others. The beauty of the Internet was that all computers could now access the Internet regardless of the operating system, making it a truly universal approach to accessing data. To write a web page, a simple tag language was devised, Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML), which was compiled at time of request to display the web page. HTML was nice for developing simple static web pages (not much interaction, just simply view the web page). Developers then invented new techniques to make a web page more dynamic thereby allowing people to input data and interact with files, which ultimately allowed for the merchandising of products over the Internet.

Wanting to do something more sophisticated through the web browser, Sun Microsystems developed the Java programming language in 1995. Java was a universal programming language that could run under any operating system. Their mantra was “Write once, run anywhere.” This was a radical departure from programming in the past where it was necessary to recompile programs to suit the peculiarities of a particular operating system. Basically, Java made the operating system irrelevant, much to Microsoft’s chagrin. Further, Java could be used in small pocket devices as well as in the new generation of computers powering automobiles. This did not sit well with Microsoft who ultimately fought the propagation of Java.

By the 1990’s the Structured Programming movement had fizzled out. Instead, “Object Oriented Programming” (OOP) gained in popularity. The concept of OOP was to develop bundles of code to model real-world entities such as customers, products, and transactions. OOP had a profound effect on Java as well as the C++ programming language.

During this time, source code generators faded from view. True, companies were still using report writers and 4GL’s, but the emphasis turned to “Visual Programming” which were programming workbenches with screen painting tools to layout inputs and outputs.

The Relational DBMS movement was still in high gear, but the use of Repositories and Data Dictionaries dropped off noticeably. Of interest though was the introduction of “Object Oriented Data Base Management System” (OODBMS) technology. Like OOP, data was organized in a DBMS according to real-world entities. Regardless, Relational DBMS dominated the field.

Also during this decade “Data Mining” became popular whereby companies were provided tools to harvest data from their DBMS. This effort was basically an admission that companies should learn to live with data redundancy and not be concerned with developing a managed data base environment.

Because of the radical changes in computer hardware and software, companies became concerned with their aging “legacy” systems as developed over the last thirty years. To migrate to this new technology, a movement was created called “Business Process Re-engineering” (BPR). This was encouraging in the sense that companies were starting to think again in terms of overall business systems as opposed to just programs. I’m not sure I agree with the use of the term “Re-engineering” though; this assumes that something was engineered in the first place (which was hardly the case in these older systems).

Nonetheless, CASE-like tools were introduced to define business processes. Suddenly, companies were talking about such things as “work flows,” “ergonomics,” and “flowcharts,” topics that had not been discussed for twenty years during the frenzy of the Structured Programming movement. Ultimately, this all led to the rediscovery of systems analysis; that there was more to systems than just software. But by this time, all of the older corporate Systems Analysts had either retired or been put out to pasture, leaving a void in systems knowledge. Consequently, the industry started to relearn the systems theory, with a lot of missteps along the way.

Companies at this time were still struggling with devising a suitable development environment. Most were content with just maintaining their current systems in anticipation of the pending Y2K (Year 2000) problem (where date fields were to change from 19XX to 20XX which could potentially shutdown companies). However, a few companies began to consider how to apply more scientific principles to the production of systems. Since people were already talking about “Software Engineering,” why not apply engineering/manufacturing principles to the development of total systems?

Back in the early 1980’s, Japan’s Ministry of International Trade & Industry (MITI) coordinated a handful of Japanese computer manufacturers in establishing a special environment for producing system software, such as operating systems and compilers. This effort came to be known as Japanese “Software Factories” which captured the imagination of the industry. Although the experiment ended with mixed results, they discovered organization and discipline could dramatically improve productivity.

Why the experiment? Primarily because the Japanese recognized there are fundamentally two approaches to manufacturing anything: “one at a time” or mass production. Both are consistent approaches that can produce a high quality product. The difference resides in the fact that mass production offers increased volume at lower costs. In addition, workers can be easily trained and put into production. On the other hand, the “one at a time” approach is slower and usually has higher costs. It requires workers to be intimate with all aspects of the product.

MBA took it a step further by introducing their concept of an “Information Factory” in the early 1990’s. The Information Factory was a comprehensive development environment which implemented MBA’s concept of Information Resource Management. Basically, they drew an analogy between developing systems to an engineering/manufacturing facility, complete with assembly lines, materials management and production control. These concepts were proven effective in companies throughout Japan, most notably Japan’s BEST project, which was sponsored by the Ministry of Finance. As background, the ministry wanted to leapfrog the west in terms of banking systems. To do so, they assembled a team of over 200 analysts and programmers from four of the top trust banks in Japan; Yasuda Trust & Banking, Mitsubishi Trust & Banking, Nippon Trust & Banking, and Chuo Trust & Banking. By implementing MBA’s concepts they were able to deliver over 70 major integrated systems in less than three years. Further, because they had control over their information resources using a materials management philosophy, the Y2K problem never surfaced.

In terms of infrastructure, development organizations essentially went unchanged with a CIO at the top of the pyramid and supported by Software Engineers and DBA’s. But there was one slight difference, instead of being called an MIS or IS department, the organization was now referred to as “IT” (Information Technology). Here again, the name hints at the direction most organizations were taking.

Finally, the 1990’s marked a change in the physical appearance of the work force. Formal suit and ties gave way to casual Polo shirts and Docker pants. At first, casual attire was only allowed on certain days (such as Fridays), but it eventually became the normal mode of dress. Unfortunately, many people abused the privilege and dressed slovenly for work. This had a subtle but noticeable effect on work habits, including how we build systems.

2000’s – GADGETS

We are now past the halfway point in this decade and there is nothing of substance to report in terms of computer hardware, other than our machines have gotten faster, smaller, with even more capacity. Perhaps the biggest innovation in this regard is the wide variety of “gadgets” that have been introduced, all of which interface with the PC, including: Personal Digital Assistants (PDA’s), iPods, MP3 players, digital cameras, portable CD/DVD players (and burners), cell phones, PS2 and XBox game players. These devices are aimed at either communications or entertainment, giving us greater mobility, yet making us a bit dysfunctional socially. All of this means the computer has become an integral part of our lives, not just at work but at home as well.

Shortly after taking the reigns of IBM in 2003, CEO Sam Palmisano introduced “On-Demand Computing” as the company’s thrust for the years ahead and, inevitably, it will mark his legacy. The concept as described by Palmisano was simple, treat computing like a public utility whereby a company can draw upon IBM for computing resources as required. “On-Demand Computing” made a nice catch-phrase and was quickly picked up by the press, but many people were at a loss as to what it was all about. Some of the early developments resulting from IBM’s “e-Business On Demand” research included balancing the load on file servers, which makes sense. But IBM is carrying the analogy perhaps too far by stressing that “on demand” is the manner by which companies should run in the future. Basically, the theory suggests we abandon capacity planning and rely on outside vendors to save the day. Further, it implies computers supersede the business systems they are suppose to serve. Instead of understanding the systems which runs a business, just throw as much computer resources as you need to solve a problem. This is like putting the cart before the horse.

The “on-demand” movement has evolved into “Service Oriented Architectures” (SOA) where vendors are introducing “on-demand” applications that will take care of such tasks as payroll, marketing, etc. through the Internet. Again, it all sounds nice, but as far as I can see, this is essentially no different than service bureaus like ADP who for years provided such processing facilities. Now, companies are being asked to swap out their internal programs for third party products. I fail to see how this is different than buying any other packaged solution, other than an outsider will be taking care of your software.

The need to build software faster has reached a feverish pitch. So much so, full-bodied development methodologies have been abandoned in favor of what is called “Agile” or “Extreme Programming” which are basically quick and dirty methods for writing software using power programming tools. To their credit, those touting such approaches recognize this is limited to software (not total systems) and is not a substitute for a comprehensive methodology. Agile/Extreme Programming is gaining considerable attention in the press.

Next, we come to “Enterprise Architecture” which is derived from a paper written by IBM’s John A. Zachman who observed that it was possible to apply architectural principles to the development of systems. This is closely related to consultants who extoll the virtues of capturing “business rules” which is essentially a refinement of the Entity Relationship (ER) Diagramming techniques popularized a decade earlier using CASE tools.

As in the 1990’s, concepts such as “Enterprise Architecture” and “business rules” is indicative of the industry trying to reinvent systems theory.


Like computer hardware, the trend over the last fifty years in systems development is to think smaller. Developers operate in a mad frenzy to write programs within a 90 day time frame. Interestingly, they all know that their corporate systems are large, yet they are content to attack them one program at a time. Further, there seems to be little concern that their work be compatible with others and that systems integration is someone else’s problem. Often you hear the excuse, “We don’t have time to do things right.” Translation: “We have plenty of time to do things wrong.” Any shortcut to get through a project is rationalized and any new tool promising improved productivity is purchased. When companies attempt to tackle large systems (which is becoming rare) it is usually met with disaster. Consequently, companies are less confident in their abilities and shy away from large system development projects.

Corporate management is naive in terms of comprehending the value of information and have not learned how to use it for competitive advantage (unlike their foreign competitors). Further, they are oblivious to the problems in systems development. They believe their systems are being developed with a high degree of craftsmanship, that they are integrated, and that they are easy to maintain and update. Executives are shocked when they discover this is not the case.

The problems with systems today are no different than fifty years ago:

End-user information requirements are not satisfied.
Systems lack documentation, making maintenance and upgrades difficult.
Systems lack integration.
Data redundancy plaques corporate data bases.
Projects are rarely delivered on time and within budget.
Quality suffers.
Development personnel are constantly fighting fires.
The backlog of improvements never seems to diminish, but rather increases.
Although the computer provides mechanical leverage for implementing systems, it has also fostered a tool-oriented approach to systems development. Instead of standing back and looking at our systems from an engineering/manufacturing perspective, it is seemingly easier and less painful to purchase a tool to solve a problem. This is like taking a pill when surgery is really required. What is needed is less tools and more management. If we built bridges the same way we build systems in this country, this would be a nation run by ferryboats.

The impact of the computer was so great on the systems industry that it elevated the stature of programmers and forced systems people to near extinction. Fortunately, the industry has discovered that there is more to systems than just programming and, as a result, is in the process of rediscovering basic systems theory. Some of the ideas being put forth are truly imaginative, others are nothing more than extensions of programming theory, and others are just plain humbug. In other words, the systems world is still going through growing pains much like an adolescent who questions things and learns to experiment.

I have been very fortunate to see a lot of this history first hand. I have observed changes not just in terms of systems and computers, but also how the trade press has evolved and the profession in general. It has been an interesting ride.

Throughout all of this, there have been some very intelligent people who have impacted the industry, there have also been quite a few charlatans, but there has only been a handful of true geniuses, one of which was Robert W. Beamer who passed away just a couple of years ago. Bob was the father of ASCII code, without which we wouldn’t have the computers of today, the Internet, the billions of dollars owned by Bill Gates, or this document.

Originally published: 03/14/2006

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

For Tim’s columns, see:

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Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THANK GOD FOR FOX NEWS – Love them or hate them, we need Fox.

LAST TIME:  50 YEARS OF THE BRITISH INVASION  – Beatlemania started it all on this date in 1964.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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Posted by Tim Bryce on February 7, 2014


– Beatlemania started it all on this date in 1964.

To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Following the assassination of President Kennedy in November 1963, the country went into a state of shock. The mood was sour and people were generally depressed. True, the transition of presidential power went smoothly, but a gray cloud hung over the country. Then, in the early months of 1964, a musical phenomenon occurred when The Beatles arrived from England. Although the group had begun in 1960, it wasn’t until 1964 when they crossed the Atlantic and brought their brand of upbeat music to America. It was just the tonic we needed to snap us out of the blues. Their timing couldn’t have been better.

After the release of “Meet the Beatles!” in January, the Fab Four arrived at JFK Airport in New York on February 7th. The album had already reached #1 and included such songs as “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” and “All My Loving.” Not surprising, hordes of fans met them at the airport and followed them to their hotel suites. It was pandemonium. Two days later, they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, and were seen by an estimated 73 million viewers, including yours truly. Among my friends and neighbors, everyone seemed to know the Beatles were coming and were glued to their television sets that Sunday night, including our parents who thought they were cute but just another fad.

It was more than just a fad though as Ed Sullivan was only the start of the Beatles conquest of America. Later in the year, they would churn out a series of hits, including “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Twist and Shout,” “She Loves You,” and “Please Please Me.” When their first movie came out, “A Hard Day’s Night,” there was no stopping their juggernaut. The movie and accompanying album included several more hits, such as “I Should Have Known Better,” “If I Fell,” “I’m Happy Just to Dance with You,” “And I Love Her,” “Tell Me Why,” “Any Time at All,” “When I Get Home,” and “You Can’t Do That.” By April, The Beatles held the top five positions in the Billboard Top 40 singles in America, an unprecedented achievement.

The success of The Beatles opened the floodgates for other English groups, such as The Dave Clark Five, Gerry & the Pacemakers, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, and The Who, in what was dubbed “The British Invasion.” Although Rock and Roll was already firmly established, the style of the English bands represented a new twist, a change from the status quo, which was warmly welcomed following the events of 1963.

1964 was an election year in the United States, pitting Lyndon Johnson against Barry Goldwater, a deeply divided race. In October, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev was deposed with Leonid Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin assuming power. The Space Race was still in high gear and, in November, NASA launched the Mariner 4 space probe towards Mars. In motion pictures, “Goldfinger” became a sensation, and Disney released “Mary Poppins.” And IBM released its much anticipated 360 mainframe computer.

In the end though, it was the British Invasion, led by The Beatles, which had the greatest social impact. The bands not only looked different than their American counterparts, they sounded different, and sung new types of songs, not just of love but of social change, which greatly influenced American youth.

Since The Beatles arrival in 1964, America has had nine presidents, four wars and several skirmishes, we traveled to the moon several times, and watched our country change in many ways, from analog to digital.

It’s been 50 years since The Beatles touched down at JFK, and America has never been quite the same.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

For Tim’s columns, see:

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  A SHORT HISTORY OF SYSTEMS DEVELOPMENT – What came first, systems or the computer?

LAST TIME:  ACROSS THE GENERATIONAL DIVIDE  – The Baby Boomers versus the Millennials, and beyond.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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