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Like jgelona, I cut my teeth on multi-user PC Focus for DOS, although I had been exposed to mainframe IBM 360 code as a project manager for the Ontario government. I was a writer of government propaganda at the time, subsequently tasked with building an alternative to a badly mangled distribution system for the publications we were creating. I knew nothing about computers and at first could not get the programmers to do what I wanted. So I enrolled in computer science courses at the university and within a year was able to talk to them in a language they understood. So I spent hours sitting beside them while they wrote FOCUS code.
When I quit in a huff one day I found myself unemployed, but a one week contract opportunity came along at a company called Chemo International. It wasn't a FOCUS job, but rather a database project in DATASTAR. But during that week their network broke down every single day and they lost half the data. It's a long story but I fixed the network and switched them to multi-user PC Focus. And I'm still working for Chemo and still on contract 28 years later ...
As jgelona says, getting PC Focus to work in less than 640K was a challenge. I found some nifty add-on cards for the PCs that allowed all the things like COMMAND.COM, network drivers etc. to be stuffed into the gaps in memory between 640K and 1 Meg. That left almost the entire 640K for Focus - but it still only worked if I used COMPILE FILE XXX. That shrunk the memory requirement for each MODIFY by about a third. Who remembers COMPILE? I think I still have all those floppy disks around somewhere.
Ahhh memories ..... I had more hair back then too....This message has been edited. Last edited by: George Patton,
Well I won’t make the ¼ century club for a while but In 1993 my boss at a company in Houston got tired of waiting for the IT department to create her Cobol reports, so she decided to look into a report writing tool. We were in the process of evaluating them, when Her Boss said here…we are installing Focus because he knew someone at IBI. She told me to pick out our most complicated Cobol report to convert to Focus. She didn’t think it could be done. Someone came from IBI and I sat with them for two days and watched him rewrite the report and a couple of more. Then he left and handed me a manual. My boss, still thinking we weren’t going to keep Focus – told me to write some reports – was not going to send me to a class, cause Focus was not going to stay. Two years later, with my much weathered manual – I had converted 100 Cobol reports to Focus and created many more – and a new career was born. Sure could have used Focal Point back then for help!
In Focus since 1993. WebFOCUS 7.7.03 Win 2003
Posts: 1903 | Location: San Antonio | Registered: February 28, 2005
WAZ: Its quite interesting how people get into there careers.
I started as a field service tech. Part of our task was to enter all the contact info into this system which I later learned was written in something called FOCUS. Then I was sent to IB, 1250 Broadway NYC, to learn it. I converted it from the single user system using a 110 baud DEC LA120 line printer for I/O to SU FIDEL with full CRUD abilities. That system became the corporate mandated system to satisfy the Defense Contract Audit Agencies request to create a compliant audit system. We called it HATS ~ Hardwar Acquisition Tracking System. The rest is history.
Posts: 3132 | Location: Tennessee, Nashville area | Registered: February 23, 2005
I first started using FOCUS in 1990. At the time I was underwriting health policies and needed to be able to pull information on the fly. FOCUS was one of the reporting tools at our company and they were offering a FOCUS class so I said why not. I was a quick study and soon the administrators were sending other FOCUS users to me when they had a problem. Next thing I knew, the Health area had a reporting unit that consisted of one person. You guessed it. The unit has since grown and I love the path my career has taken.
Get that club going, I would love to join you in a few years.
Seems a common complaint in the young 80's was about those "What the ****" (fill in your fave invective) cobol programmers, so in comes Focus to save the day.
We had the same issue. I was the GL/AP/AR manager for our small Voice Mail company (VMX) and the cobol group could not get reports out quick enough. So my bosses bought VaxFocus, threw the mainframe manual at me and told me to produce a Balance Sheet, Income Statement, and Cash flow statement. I learned it so well, I leaped from Finance to IT. It was a money thing. Programmers usually make more than accounting types. FOCUS has been my bread and butter ever since.
This is a fun topic. As said previously by someone else, very interesting to learn how folks got their feet wet.
For all the topic breaker haters an update: I quite enjoyed the new "Dallas" reboot last night. Not Shakespeare, not "House", and not "Mad Men" (never was), but Larry Hagman is brilliant and remains the main reason to enjoy it. I was giggling everytime they framed him going into a commercial.
In FOCUS since 1985 - WF 8.009/8.104 Win 8 Outputs: ALL of 'em! Adapters: Sql Server Teradata Oracle
i'm glad you said that. i hated it and turned it off after 3 minutes; i hated the new kids, they can't act. but i love Larry and Patrick and SueEllen .. i met my first husband at the 'who shot JR?' party, and i worked for CBS at the time. So i'm glad someone out there liked it.
In Focus since 1979///7706m/5 ;wintel 2008/64;OAM security; Oracle db, ///MRE/BID
Posts: 3811 | Location: Manhattan | Registered: October 28, 2003
I've been trying to resist this thread, but what the ****.
I'm not resisting at all!
In 1981, I was working at a bank and I was trying to convince the higher-ups to create an Information Center (THE buzzword at the time). I came across FOCUS in COMPUTERWORLD. I wrote (mail!) and asked a few questions. I got an answer telling me that Art Greenhouse and Jonathan Mark would be coming in the summer. I organized a meeting and was fascinated by the possibilities and decided that I should try to become an agent. IBI told me that if I could bring in a customer I would have the agency. With two friends we created a company. I left the bank. After a couple of months I went back to them and suggested they try FOCUS, renting it for a year. The rest, as they say, is history.
Daniel In Focus since 1982 wf 8.202M/Win10/IIS/SSA - WrapApp Front End for WF
Posts: 1980 | Location: Tel Aviv, Israel | Registered: March 23, 2006
Started using FOCUS in 1986 - don't ask which version as I might have to blame a senior moment. Not something I was concerned about knowing then!
Originally used the IBM 3179 terminal followed shortly after by the IBM PC3270. Used to have a copy of the old red UWS but "over use" saw the end of that a while ago now. Still have the quick reference card for MODIFY (1993) and once saw a program that someone had written to use FSCAN to update the table!! TED was v.good for the time, not sure that I'd want to return to it though (@Prarie, TED says he misses you too ).
The old "two manuals covers everything" days have gone and now I carry a lot of the manuals with me where ever I go to work - all in PDF of course!
Pass me my zimmer frame
In FOCUS since 1986
WebFOCUS Server 8.2.01M, thru 8.2.07 on Windows Svr 2008 R2
WebFOCUS App Studio 8.2.06 standalone on Windows 10
Posts: 5694 | Location: United Kingdom | Registered: April 08, 2004
I first touched Focus in the 1982 - 83 time frame at Household Finance Corp. This was right around the same time we were switching from BAL to COBOL. Been doing mainframe Focus ever since until a couple of years ago when my current company decided it was time to get off of that nasty mainframe. We're almost there.
WebFOCUS 7.7.05 (Someday 8) Windows 7, All Outputs In Focus since 1983.
I read this thread, and despite the fact that I am already drawing Social Security, I feel like the "new" kid :-)
The year is 2000, and all of us VB6 / asp / vba application developers are tired fo trying to get data from the conglomeration of Oracle, SQL Server & DB2 data bases into a web browser on the company intranet, AND provide the customers ease of access via the Internet.
Big Bob has this fancy degree in Engineering, so the head manager says evaluate FOCUS, Crystal Reports, Business Objects, COGNOS, and two others I have forgotten since, and make a recommendation.
After I do so, (guess which one I recommended???) said same boss says, you picked it, you run it...
5 years alter IBM buys the company, and I go screaming off into the night as an independant consultant. So, I don;t really think I will ever make the quarter century club (I do not intend to still be coding at 77 years of age, but who knows) I thought I would share that.
Robert F. Bowley Jr. Owner TaRa Solutions, LLC
In WebFOCUS since 2001
Posts: 132 | Location: Gadsden, Al | Registered: July 22, 2005
Wow guys - I feel like a newbie! Very interesting reading your FOCUS histories. I didn't quite start as early as many of you but did start in similar environments. FOCUS on VAX/VMS, PC FOCUS 1.5 (remember trying to get that to work on MS Windows?), FOCUS Systems Journal, TED, TableTalk (although that got old after about three weeks) early TOP GUN courses, CACTUS, ahh the memories....
We did sooo much stuff with FOCUS at the university where I started out of college. I sometimes wonder what the progression was with all the FOCUS reports, input screens, MODIFY, etc. after I left because there weren't too many others there with in-depth FOCUS experience when I left.
My kids ask me if we had color monitors "way back in the olden days." I tell them yes, you could have amber ones or green ones.
In FOCUS since 1991 WF Server: 7.7.04 on Linux and Z/OS, ReportCaster, Self-Service, MRE, Java, Flex Data: DB2/UDB, Adabas, SQL Server Output: HTML,PDF,EXL2K/07, PS, AHTML, Flex WF Client: 77 on Linux w/Tomcat
Posts: 2298 | Location: Salt Lake City, Utah | Registered: February 02, 2007
It's indeed quite nice to learn of the various ways that people got started with Focus. My way was to react to a small obscure advertisement of a totally unknown company to me, Information Builders, which stated they were looking for a VAX/VMS expert. At the time that's what I was and I was up for a new challenge, so I applied and was subsequently hired. That was in '88. I stayed with IB until the end of '07, but kept on working with IB products ever since. Now that Doug mentioned TopGun classes ... I even presented one, somewhere in England, during the user meeting there. Had forgotten all about it, and now it sort of jumped back into my memory reading Doug's comment... The thanks for that was a book containing the complete and unabbreviated works of ... Shakespeare - I still have to start reading it
- Using AS 8.2.01 on Windows 10 - IE11.
in Focus since 1988
Posts: 1961 | Location: Netherlands | Registered: September 25, 2007
For a while there, I was feeling like a dinosaur. I work with a bunch of twenty-some-year-olds. Just at Summit, my friend who I sat with for most of the sessions keep on laughing that I get frustrated at the labs because I can type the code faster than I can find the check boxes in the GUI.
But, I don't qualify for quarter century either. Yeay?
I took my first Focus training session in '95 in Michigan just north of Detriot. Yeah, we were on the mainframe then. Windows '95 was not even born yet. And java was what you drank with your Mountain Dew.
I attended the Wizards session. That was fun! Didn't get to meet any of the wizards though. I met Kathleen Butler, that's about it.