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Scarcity of resources as an advantage

posted Feb 3, 2012, 6:40 AM by Jeff Ogden   [ updated Apr 25, 2014, 6:54 AM ]
From: Jim Henriksen
Subject: Re: GPSSH and MTS
Date: January 31, 2012 10:01:21 AM EST
To: Jeff Ogden

Dear Jeff,
 . . .

I have really enjoyed reading the information about MTS that's now available on the web.  Congratulations on a job well done, and many thanks for your efforts!

The greatest lesson I learned from my experience at the Computing Center is that scarcity of resources frequently /improves/ software, because developers are keenly aware that they can't do everything, and that they have to get the most out of the resources they do have.  MTS is a stunning example of a great system built by an extremely small team of people.  In that regard, it's a high-water mark for a whole lot of folks.

When I started Wolverine Software, my goal was to create a Computing Center-like environment in which developers could do the right things and thrive, while making a profit.  That was 36 years ago.  And the beat goes on.


From: Jeff Ogden
Subject: Re: GPSSH and MTS
Date: January 31, 2012 10:16:53 AM EST
To: Jim Henriksen
Cc: Mike Alexander

Thanks.  I agree about the scarcity of resources although at the time that scarcity was not always seen as an advantage. I've come across some descriptions of the development of CP/67, VM/CMS, VM/370, … at the IBM Cambridge Scientific Laboratory and the same thing was mentioned.

A comment Les Comeau made about the success of VM/CMS and VM/370 as reported in VM AND THE VM COMMUNITY: Past, Present, and Future by Melinda Varian, April 1991, page 122:

It would be extremely gratifying to attribute that success to brilliant design decisions
early on in the program, but, upon reflection, the real element of success of this
product was that it was not hampered by an abundance of resources, either
manpower or computer power.*

* L.W. Comeau, “CP-40, the Origin of VM/370”, Proceedings of SEAS AM82, September, 1982, p. 38.