x'0D' (13). Grenoble

posted Dec 21, 2010, 12:45 AM by Jeff Ogden   [ updated Jan 21, 2016, 6:55 AM ]
Dave Mill's web site says that MTS was running at Grenoble:

For many years it [MTS] and its clones at University of Alberta in Canada and INRIA in Grenoble, France, served the faculty, staff and students.

From: Mike Alexander
Date: June 16, 2010 3:04:41 PM EDT
To: Jeff Ogden
Subject: Re: MTS at Grenoble?

 . . .
Grenoble never ran MTS in production.  That's one of the few mistakes on Dave's web page.  I think it was INRIA [the French national institute for research in computer science and control] that tried it out, as Dave says.  However I can't find any documentation of that and it might have been INPG [Grenoble Institute of Technology (Institut Polytechnique de Grenoble), also known as Groupe INP Grenoble, Grenoble-INP, and formerly INPG (engineering)].  . . .

From: Bruce Arden
Date: June 18, 2010 12:20:16 PM EDT
To: Jeff Ogden
Subject: Re: MTS at Grenoble?


I spent a year in Grenoble in 1971-72. This was largely the result of an earlier visit to UM by Professor Bolliet from the University of Grenoble, which is apparently known now by its divisions, Grenoble I, II, and III. He was very interested in UMMPS and the IBM 67, and also in the operations research analysis of interactive computing, a topic I was then interested in. The deal was that I would teach a course in such subjects at IRIA in Paris the first half year and then a graduate course in Grenoble in the second half. I lived in Grenoble and commuted to Paris for the first part. To my knowledge UMMPS/MTS was never implemented at Grenoble. IBM(USA) was never enthusiastic about producing many model 67s and IBM(France) could not cope with necessary support anyway. Beside hardware unavailability, I don't think Grenoble had the systems programming expertise that was available in British Columbia and Newcastle. Adopting UMMPS/MTS was essentially an "open source" exercise. The year had its frustrations, but also its rewards -- largely for my family.

Among other things at that time language was a problem. The course at IRIA was in English and students were required to be conversant, but many weren't. And at Grenoble the students preferred my fractured French to English. Lecturing in French induced learning for me, and the students seemed to understand but most of them did not do the assignments. I learned later that this was normal. French university level education is done in two year "cycles" and students advance by taking a national exam on each cycle. Visiting professors never contributed questions for these exams.


From: Tad Pinkerton
Date: December 21, 2010 12:02:22 PM EST
To: Jeff Ogden
Subject: Re: MTS at Grenoble?

Hi Jeff,

Yes, I know a fair bit.

When I was finishing my PhD in late 1967 or early 1968 I was trying to decide where to go for an overseas year of teaching before starting a career here in the States.  Bernie[Galler]  arranged for me to be interviewed by Professor Louis Bolliet from Grenoble and Professor Sidney Michaelson from Edinburgh.  The overall institution was called the Universite de Grenoble and the sponsoring group at the time was the Institute of Informatics and Applied Mathematics (IMAG), which I gather later became INP.

I received job offers for the 1968-69 academic year from both places and was really torn between them: Grenoble was the site of the 1968 Winter Olympics and the TV coverage was spectacular.  Both jobs were half-time in the department and half in the computing center.  But if I taught in Grenoble it had to be in French, which I had only mastered well enough to pass the reading exam for my degree.  So the family went to Edinburgh, but with an invitation to visit Grenoble while I was in Europe, especially to advise the computing center folks on MTS.

AS things turned out I got about four trips to Grenoble during the academic year and we were able to spend the summer of 1969 there as well.  The IMAG group was heavily supported by IBM at the time:

Around 1960, the IMAG developed an expertise in delivering programming languages, compilers and other software tools under contract with most computer manufacturers operating in France. A second, deeper relationship was established in the late 1960s, when IBM, followed by the national champion CII, created "Scientific Centers" on the IMAG premises, mixing academic and industrial software developers, to undertake joint research on novel concepts such as virtual memory, network analysis and modelling.
(page 27 in "Inventing Europe: technology and the making of Europe, 1850 to the present", European Science Foundation)

and they got a 360/67.  They got MTS up and running on the 360, but IBM Europe seemed to be exerting influence on the group not to run it in production.

Bolliet was the classic European professor, doing both language/compiler research and moving his group into operating systems.  I didn't see a lot of him when I was there.  I worked with a multinational group of programmers, so much so that there was a sign on the door of their shared office that said "Today we speak/Heute wir sprechen/Aujourd'hui en parle" with a sliding insert that said "English/German/French".  I don't remember many of the names.  The Englishman was Tony Mascall, remembered especially because he got us an apartment above his for the summer.

I went more often to Newcastle because it was only about 120 miles south of Edinburgh and an easy train ride.  The joke that year was that if someone from Europe called Michigan to ask about MTS they could be asked "have you called our Edinburgh office?"  A story from that institution:  after they received the MTS tapes and loaded up the system and booted up, they couldn't get past the time and date query.  They could not imagine that the format of the latter was so 'user friendly'!


On Dec 21, 2010, at 1:56 PM, Mike Alexander wrote:

This largely agrees with my recollections, although I didn't know so many details.

I think the story about the first IPL at Newcastle is apocryphal since I carried the tapes there myself and was present for the first IPL.  I remember it well since they insisted that I come pretty much directly from the plane to the Computer Lab and I more or less IPLed MTS in my sleep.  . . .