• This week covers the HIS-tory of SMS’ many mini & micro-based
products, that are amazingly diverse for a shared system vendor!
• Indeed, many were sold in conjunction with one of the shared
systems, such as “Unity,” a typically creative name from their
marketing team for a dual system with a mini and mainframe!?
• The time line below shows roughly how these many products
evolved over the last four decades, changing names over time
with new releases and to keep client & prospect interest high,
with several still being sold and supported by Siemens today.
Circuitous Hardware Circle
• Odd how the first mini-based system SMS sold came from its major
competitor McAuto, circling around two minicomputer platforms.
• In the early 70s, McAuto’s development team was working on HDC
(Hospital Data Collection), a dual mini system comprised of a Four
Phase mini (with a sweet user interface) front-ending a DEC PDP
(more powerful CPU) to handle Census, Order Entry & Results.
• Walt Huff from OSF in Peoria (source of their HFC shared system)
argued that the system could run on the Four Phase alone, but the
programmers disagreed. Walt left in one (sorry…) with his OSF
buddies Dave Barrington and Bruce Owens and started HBO.
• They called their system MedPro and it sold so well it
caught the attention of SMS’ Harvey Wilson who secured
the rights to market it as a front-end to SHAS too. The
question was, what to call it? Strangely, I got involved…
Where the ______Is
• Betsy Palonisin my Education Department was eager to get into
marketing, so Harvey challenged her to come up with a name that
could grow as SMS’ mini product line would eventually grow...
• Betsy came up with “ACT I” – very creative name, and we had
hundreds of buttons printed up for a sales meeting when our
attorneys suddenly found that name was taken – boooo!
• So Betsy got creative again, and came up with a name that saved
all the ACT I buttons through an 2nd extremely creative acronym:
• “All Communication
• At the sales meeting where
ACTIon was announced, it
didn’t take the reps long to
come up with the meaning of
the last 2 letters” “Or Never”!!
Hardware Platform Redux
• ACTIon first came out on a Four Phase Data 4/40
mini with an 72K of memory and a 2.5 Megabyte
disk platter. It was soon augmented by the Data
4/90 with 96K of memory, and 67.5 MB disks.
• SMS called these early versions ACTIon 200, 400 and 600, based on
the size box and whether software included ADT only or ADT plus
Orders & Results (many thanks to super-techie Mike Cassidy –
pictured below at our 2009 reunion – for this hardware minutiae).
• However, SMS’ programmers were as enamored of DEC’s far more
powerful line of PDP minis as McAuto’s programmers were, and
soon started developing a whole new line of ACTIon software for it.
• Within a few years, SMS offered only ACTIon 1100
running on a DEC PDP, and ACTIon 1500 running on
a super-powerful DEC VAX. OnlyHBO stayed loyal
to Four Phase minis for the long life of MedPro…
Creative Mini Tangent
• SMS sold as many over 500 Four Phase minis
before Motorola bought them up and sunset the
box. Mike Cassidy can remember only a single
SMS customer running Four Phase by 1998...
• Another amazing SMS veteran was Bob Fetters,
who sadly passed away a few years back. Bob
was one of the nicest guys in the HIS industry
and one of the most successful salesmen in a
company renowned for having only the very best
reps. Bob came to SMS from some obscure
minicomputer company, and he got involved in
the Four Phase ACTIon project and led the
development of an amazingly precocious word
processing system called “MedVerse.” Only
Keane competed in WP with their Wang line of
minis, and SMS’ evolved into their ACTIon RIS.
• As well as ACTIon sold, it still
relied on the SHAS mainframe
financials and the HIS market in
the 80s was rife with total HIS
systems on minis, and even
SMS’super reps felt the heat.
• So in 1985, SMS made its first
acquisition of a “Total HIS”
running on minis: Computer
Synergy out of Oakland, CA.
• You can get the full story of
Tom Culligan’sfirm in episodes
28 & 29 on our web site
(hispros.com), and its name
changes from Spirit Choice to:
Major Minis, cont’d
• Allegra sold pretty well, but
its DEC platform was just not
as hot in sales asIBM’sSYS 38
and AS/400 minis, so in the
90s, SMS bought a leading
IBM mini-based HIS turnkey:
• MedSeries4 from GTE, who
had bought it from IHC (see
episodes 24A & B for details)
• For once, SMS did not play
any “name games” and the
system still runs in hundreds
of Siemens’ clients today
under the same moniker
(sadly for about 175 clients,
Allegra was sunset pre-Y2K).
• As hot & creative a company as SMS was, when the PC revolution
hit the IT industry in the mid 1980s, Malvern (where they moved
from K of P circa 1980) was right on top of it. Unfortunately, I
can’t give credit to the SMS tech maven who helped with this part
of the story as he’s still working there and nervous about
attribution so I’ll just say a loud thanks to Mr. LanMan / 3WIZ.
• This “deep throat” worked in Jerry Vogt’s engineering department
which came up with some amazing developments over the years,
and they jumped on the micro bandwagon early and hard. One of
their most creative ideas was called “Harmony” which as you can
see in the micro time line below evolved into today’s OpenLink
Interface Engine (IE), and marked SMS’ entry into the PC world.
Harmony –> LAN22 ->OpenLink
• Again, thanks to LanMan aka 3WIZ, for this story & pictures:
– “At first this "PC network" was based on something called
3Com EtherShare, and ran on an XT PC (hard drive). Then
3Com came up with a dedicated bit of hardware called the
3Server (later 3Server3 and 3S/500) that was basically a
headless server, running a special version of MS-DOS that had
something called MS-NET as part of it. The command line stuff
you can use today in the windows world (NET USE, NET VIEW,
NET SHARE) was what we did way back in 1986. The
hardware used SCSI drives of 36MB. You could add expansion
drives via SCSI. And a tape drive to back it all up.”
Ancillary Department Systems
• We could do a whole year of HIS-tory on ancillary dept. systems:
– Laboratory: comprised of basic LIS systems, Microbiology,
Anatomic Pathology, & Blood Bank
– Pharmacy: basic RX plus today’s eMAR, Bedside, and Med Rec
– Radiology: starting with early RIS, and the mini-world of PACS
– ED: that has given rise to an entire world of EDIS vendors
– Not to mention OR, ICU, HIM, Nursing (staffing, etc.), etc.
• Like many vendors, SMS developed a
whole series of ancillary systems on
minis, starting with the DEC ACTIon
line. Only problem: even the powerful
VAX could run out of gas running both
ACTIon core apps (ADT & O/E) as well
as a LIS, RIS, etc, and there was a limit
to how many minis could be afforded.
PCs to the Rescue!
• The answer came to SMS just as
it did to other breakthrough
niche vendors like Citation in the
LIS world: cheap, powerful PCs!
• SMS gradually evolved its whole
line of ancillaries (Lab, RX & RIS)
into a brand new line of micro-
based systems. And what would
you call a brand new line of
systems? What else but Novius,
a line of Client/ Server based
ancillary department systems
that Siemens still sells and
supports in hundreds of sites.
The Big Picture
• So here it is in toto: the complex evolution of SMS/Siemen’s
many products, showing the surprising age of systems still in use
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