Their Finest Hour
In a speech to the House of Commons (20 August 1940), Winston Churchill praised the Battle of Britain pilots with his declaration; "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few". Admittedly, there have been times where many of us have felt as though we were at war. In some cases the adversary was a colleague or a superior. In other cases, maybe a program or control program CSECT. While I have no intentions of equating armed conflict with the trials and tribulations of data processing, there are in fact parallels which can be drawn from Sir Winston's famous remark.
Those folks who were able to attend the TPF Users Group Conference in New Orleans last month were presented with the first public announcement and disclosure on TPF4.1. In a series of presentations which spanned two full days, IBM took the covers off of NBR, and presented the details and particulars of their new product offering for TPF. If I was asked which one word I would use to describe TPF4.1, it would have to be exciting.
The last major change to TPF was the 2.4/3.1 effort which technologically moved many of us into the 20th century by introducing XA architecture for the TPF operating system. Was it a challenge? Sure it was. Was it a lot of work to install and implement? Absolutely. Was it exciting? Not in the least. I'm not saying that there weren't a few people out there who thought they'd died and gone to heaven (pocket protectors and all), but if the answer was TPF3.1, I think the majority of us Jeopardy freaks would have to choose "Dry, Boring, Uninteresting Things for $100, Alex". What was missing in TPF3.1 was the excitement, and IBM has more than made up for it with TPF4.1. The new functionality provided with 4.1 is a collective effort of the Poughkeepsie (nee Danbury) Development Lab, and many of the TPF users throughout the world. Very briefly, here are just some of the features you'll find in TPF4.1.
Things like: virtual memory/Dynamic Address Translation, 1000's of available ECB's, lots of new/enhanced macros, no more "core-walkers", multiple control program images online, new data collection, new capture/restore, online load any number of programs at one time, online load programs for use by specific terminals only, allocation of contiguous memory up to 1 megabyte, the new WTOPC can display thousands of lines, the database can accommodate 4 billion records, macro trace data for each ECB, online PER trace, new Branch Trace facility, new ZAFIL/ZACOR functions, automatic tape mounting (no more standbys needed), new user exits, new error number prefixing, smaller/faster/smarter control dumps, run-time macro authorization, program execution directly from VFA, define up to 8 million LU's in your network, load your network definitions in NORM state, new SNA I/O trace, new PIU trace, lots of LU6.2 enhancements, create new functional messages online dynamically, and much, much more...
In addition, IBM has worked very closely with the vendor community to insure that all of the third-party products many of us use are TPF4.1 compatible. These include the British Airways Step-By-Step Trace package, the Micro Information Systems Dump Analyzer, TPF Software's CMSTPF/ESA and SOURCE VIEW, Virtual Systems Software's VPARS and VTAPE products, KLM's Online Dump Facility, EDS's ESPM and SABRETALK products, and COVIA's Communications Integrator. Throw in a noteworthy set of technical documentation and migration aids, and an aggressive education curriculum, and you can't help but be impressed with IBM's 8 year effort to provide a truly competitive transaction processing platform. Topping things off is a new TPF Business Unit and a new TPF Marketing Unit at IBM, which will "boldly go where no man has gone before".
The bottom line is that congratulations and praise are in order for Bob Cohen's organization. His staff has every reason to be proud of their accomplishments, and on behalf of the TPF user community, I would like to say to the ladies and gentlemen of the TPF Development Lab: Well done, and thank you!