103. siemens, part 4


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103. siemens, part 4

  1. 1. H.I.S.-tory by Vince Ciotti, Episode #103: Siemens, Part 4: Minis & Micros © 2013 by H.I.S. Professionals, LLC, all rights reserved.
  2. 2. Minicomputer Systems • 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.
  3. 3. 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…
  4. 4. 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 Transmitted Immediately” • 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”!!
  5. 5. 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…
  6. 6. 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.
  7. 7. Major Minis • 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:
  8. 8. 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).
  9. 9. Microcomputer Systems • 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.
  10. 10. 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.”
  11. 11. 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.
  12. 12. 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.
  13. 13. 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 today: