Installing MTS Distribution 1 at UBC

MTS Distribution 1 was ready well before the 360/67 was. Of course, this just about drove us insane.

John Campbell's father had a connection to a business in Burnaby that had a 360/50. John said he could get us some midnight shift hours on that machine. Peter Madderom enthusiastically volunteered for the task of performing surgery on UMMPS to remove the virtual memory support. This was difficult, but feasible, because UMMPS was originally LLMPS, which ran on vanilla 360s. Taking the virtual memory support out that UM had painstakingly added was a retrograde step, but hey, any way we could actually get something running was worth considering. John Campbell had experience with DOS/360 on the 360/50, so he undertook to get the source code off the tape and assist with making the assembly code acceptable to the DOS assembler.

Peter and John managed to get a severely crippled UMMPS and MTS running on that 360/50, and it wasn't an idle exercise. Peter learned things about UMMPS that served us well in the following year.

Our 360 hardware configuration included a 360/67 CPU, 768K of memory, a 2301 drum, and 2x2314 disk units, for an astounding total of about 400 megabytes of disk storage. We had to build a new machine room in the basement of the Civil Engineering building to house it. The trucks arrived in November of 1968 and a team of about a dozen IBM Customer Engineers began the arduous task of assembling the pieces. It took them a couple of weeks. They arrived in jackets and ties, of course, but because this was a university they removed their jackets and ties when no IBM manager was on campus.

To say that IBM was unhappy about our decision to run MTS on their precious hardware would be to understate the case. They were downright upset, and they said so to the University administration. Sober IBM executives in blue suits let it be known that those young whippersnappers in the Computing Centre were taking liberties with very expensive IBM hardware. IBM thought we ought to run MVT while TSS/360 matured. We had visited a university (UCLA) that ran MVT on a 360/75, and their systems people had unprintable things to say about the suitability of MVT for university work. You can imagine how keen were were on that idea.

IBM had written into the lease contract that they would certify the 67 with MVT before turning it over to us. Oh, how we chafed at that. All this lovely new hardware sitting idle on the midnight shift and we couldn't play with it.

From time to time, Dr. Kennedy would visit us and ask delicately about our level of confidence that we could make MTS work and that it would do useful things for our campus users. Our confidence was unbounded. Whether it was justified remained to be seen.

We finally cheated. We promised the CEs that if they let us tinker with the machine after midnight, we'd never ever, ever, tell anyone about it. Cross our hearts and hope to die. We pleaded. We put on our best innocent smiles. We brought them pizza. They finally caved under the relentless pressure and identified a 2314 disk pack we could use. Then they left at midnight and pretended they didn't know what was about to happen. What happened was that Peter booted a deck of cards he had prepared on the model 50, copied the contents of a tape to disk, booted the disk, and after a few minor hassles we were greeted with the MTS prompt on the console. We felt an immense weight fall off our shoulders, and that taught us that we hadn't been quite as confident as we had been saying we were.

After the Customer Engineers signed off on the hardware installation, the IBM Systems Engineers took over. It was their task to build OS MVT for our system and show that it would run successfully. This involved booting the sysgen software from tape and processing the system definition in phases. The guy in charge of this was a really nice SE by the name of Terry McKim. It must have been a difficult job for him. All the UBC technical guys liked him personally but hated IBM. He, being a true career IBMer, believed in IBM. There we were, looking over his shoulder while he defined stage 1 on sysgen on cards. We were also looking over his shoulder while he ran sysgen stage 1, which took some hours of tape spinning and generated a deck of about 2,000 cards which was input to sysgen stage 2. Terry was a remarkably nice guy. If I had been in his shoes, I would have told us to take a hike.

Stage 2 sysgen croaked. Perhaps partly because we had been looking over his shoulder, Terry had specified our disks in his stage 1 definition as "DASD". This was a generic type which was unavailable until after stage 2. He should have specified "2314". He was faced with going back to his original stage 1 card deck, changing one instance of "DASD" to "2314" and spending another few hours watching tapes spin.

I liked Terry. Plus which I wanted to show off. So I said "Terry, take a break. Give me 15 minutes with the machine." "Why?", he asked, not unreasonably. "Watch", said I. I booted MTS, signed on at the console, loaded the cards into the reader, copied the cards to a file, started the MTS line editor, changed all instances of "DASD" to "2314", copied the file to the card punch, and handed Terry a brand new tray full of cards that stage 2 sysgen would accept. I think that was the first time that one of the local IBM people started to get the idea that maybe there was something to this MTS stuff after all.

Eventually, IBM handed the machine over to us. By early January, we had real live campus users on the machine. We didn't get much sleep over that Christmas "holiday", but we had a lot of fun. As we said at the time, we got our 67 in 68 and put it into service in 69.