9. House on Sylvan Street

posted Nov 26, 2010, 2:52 PM by Jeff Ogden   [ updated Dec 10, 2010, 8:26 AM ]
The following quote is from the article "A History of MTS: 30 Years of Computing Service" in the farewell to MTS issue of the University of Michigan Information Technology Digest, Volume 5, No. 5, 13 May 1996:

The timesharing experiment began as a "half-page of code on the kitchen table." By combining this new code with a version of a small multi-programming system (LLMPS) from MIT Lincoln Laboratories — which was modified and became the U-M Multi-Programming System (UMMPS) — MTS architects Mike Alexander and Don Boettner were able to create a prototype timesharing system.

The kitchen table was in a house at 810 Sylvan Street in Ann Arbor that was rented by Don Boettner, Mike Alexander, and Fred Swartz. As of 2010 the house is still there:

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And the "S" in UMMPS stands for Supervisor rather than System.  See Myth #10.

In the following Mike is Mike Alexander, Fred is Fred Swartz, Chris is Chris Wendt (Merit) and Dick is Dick Salisbury. Unless noted otherwise everyone mentioned worked for the UM Computing Center.

--On November 21, 2010 4:12:42 PM -0500 Jeff Ogden  wrote:

Does the house on Sylvan still exist?

 . . .

Who other than the two of you lived there?  Fred?  Chris?


On Nov 21, 2010, at 9:19 PM, Mike Alexander wrote:

It's still there.  It's 810 Sylvan.  Don and Dick lived there until they moved to the house in Barton Hills.  Dick moved in after (immediately after?) I moved out or maybe even before.  He might have moved in when Fred and Chris moved out.

When I lived there (from Jan 1965 until the summer of 1967) Fred and Chris lived there too, although Chris didn't move in until we'd been there a year or so.  Fred, Chris, and I all left more or less the same time after Fred and Chris got married, although I think they left a few weeks before I did.  After that others moved in including, I think, Bruce Bolas.  Don will be able to give you a complete list, I'm sure.

It's the second or third house from White St., depending on whether you count the one facing White. 


On Nov 25, 2010 4:48:18 PM EST Don Boettner wrote:

Well, I hauled out all the old House Account books from 810 Sylvan and have produced the following timeline:
  • The books start with Feb 4 1966 although I thought we moved in at the usual end-of-August time period which would place it as August 1965 beginning.
      • On Nov 25, 2010, at 10:47 PM, Mike Alexander wrote:
        No, we moved in after Christmas.  I got kicked out of the place at 1410 Linwood just before Christmas and had to move in the middle of the year.  You and I found the place on Sylvan which was too big for two so we got Fred involved too.  I lived with him in the apartments on what was then the stub end of Huron Parkway north of Washtenaw over Christmas and we moved to Sylvan after that.
  • I had the downstairs front bedroom, Mike had the downstairs back bedroom, and Fred had the upstairs.
  • Sometime after Fred ... met Chris Wendt and she moved in with him after a while, but I don't have info on when as she never appeared in the books.
  • Fred and Mike moved out at the end of August 1968, and Bruce Bolas moved into the upstairs and Marty Raim moved into the downstairs back bedroom.
  • In August 1970, Dick moved into the downstairs back bedroom (so Marty must have moved out by then).
  • In August 1971, Bruce ... moved to Detroit.
  • From August 1976 through April 1977, George Helffrich  was in the upstairs room.
  • Then Dick moved from the downstairs back bedroom to the upstairs room.
  • From March 1980 to August 1981, Scott Hunter (non-MTS person) was in the downstairs back bedroom.
  • From May 1982 to Sept 1982, Tom Valerio was in  the downstairs back bedroom.
  • Then the downstairs back bedroom was converted to a library and somehow Dick's computer crept in and it sort of eventually ended up as a study.