Another HIS-tory Hero• We interrupted our series on Frank Poggio’s HMDS micro-basedsystem for the sad news of the passing of Bill Corum of McAuto.• Bill was the VP of Data Center Operations at McAuto, easily oneof the most important positions in a shared system vendor!• Well, this week we’re gonna interrupt the story on micros a 2ndtime to tell the story of the VP of Ops at Mac’s arch-enemy - SMS:• Jim Carter– let me start by sayingJim is doing pretty good rightnow, but fighting a serious illness.I just spoke to him this weekendand it was such a rush hearing hisguts & fighting spirit fighting hisdamn disease that I had to tellthe story to all his many oldfriends from King of Prussia.
A True Soul Brother• I first met Jim back in 1970 when he joined SMS from CaliforniaBlue Cross where he ran their giant IBM mainframe data center.• We were struggling (to put in mildly) with running SHAS on our360 mainframe in Bridgeport, PA (hadn’t moved to K of P yet).• Jim popped up one day and was hard to miss: one of the fewAfrican-American employees at SMS back in those early days.• I remember sitting in his crampedoffice where he had pasted up allof the data flow of IBM’s SHAS onthe wall, to try to document thecorrect sequence of running thehundreds of programs in the JCL.• He had cut and pasted dozens offlowcharts from the SHAS OPSand PDM manuals to figure it out
Bright, Hard Working, and Fun!• It was quite an intellectual feat to figure out that job flow, as SHASwould abend often, and restarting correctly saving clients from re-submitting hundreds of batches of 5081 keypunch cards, or not!• So the guy was among the smartest stars in a company full ofbright boys, yet he was also one of the most down-to-earth peoplein a corporate world of wing-tip shoes, white shirts & blue ties.• Jim’s afro hair style gave away his unpretentious approach to thebusiness world: he would challenge you with some tough questionor problem, debate the issue in a rapid-fire give & take, and thenpunch you in the arm & tell a joke when it was all resolved.• Long hair back then was a symbol of how we younger dudes werestruggling to look correct in a world where image was everything.If you remember how SMS was full of ex-IBMers, we long-hairs definitely stood out!
An Athlete & A Gentleman• Jim excelled in areas outside the office, as I learned to my chagrin:– In 1971, I decided to challenge his operations department to abasketball game against we IDs (Installation Directors).– IDs were decidedly older and paunchier than Jim’s operators,but I was bored and single at the time, so what the heck…– We met at the YMCA gym in Bridgeport, and started shootingaround as a warm-up – if you shoot hoops, you know thetradition of giving the ball back to whoever makes a shot, right?- Well, Jim comes out and makes ajumper, gets the ball back and makesa hook, gets the ball and makes along one-hander, gets the ball backand makes a turn-around jumper,gets the ball back and… you get thepicture, for about 20 shots!! Needlessto say, his Ops guys murdered we IDs.
Big Promotion!• In 1982, Jim really made it big at SMS: he was promoted to VP ofOperations by Carl Witonsky, SMS’s VP for all of Systems & Ops,about the same time Bill Corumwas promoted to VP at McAuto.• I know it’s not politically correct to even raise the issue, but for ablack man to earn the honor and recognition of being promoted toVP was a very big deal, quite fitting with Jim’s accomplishments.• I doubt if anyonekeeps such records,but I’ll bet Jim wasone of the first (andmost deserving)Afro-Americans toearn such an honorin the whole US ITindustry back inthose halcyon days…
“Act II” of Jim’s HIS Career• Jim eventually left SMS in the late 80s, flush with penny-a-sharestock that had grown amazingly. He took it easy for a while, thenwas recruited by another SMS HIS-tory hero: Harvey Wilson.• After a stint as SMS’ CEO, Harvey too left the corporate jungle fora few years pursuing his love of boats. After a while, he yearnedfor another shot at the brass ring, and formed a company called“NewCo,” recruiting a bunch of former SMS-ers, including Jim.• Harvey acquired several quality HIS systems to build his new HIS:- TDS– ex-Technicon, the clinical suite, and- SDK – Sam David Kaufman’s hot financials. Jim set up the “remote hosting” data centersfor the new firm that Harvey built up to whereit eclipsed most leading HIS systems. Thefitting name for such an up-start venture?- ECLIPSYS, and the rest is HIS-tory…
Sad Turn ofEvents…• Shortly after our 40th SMSreunion in October of 2009,Jim was diagnosed withPancreatic cancer.• Like Steve Jobs, he’s fightingit just as hard as all the other challenges he overcame in his career.• Here’s Jim at the reunion celebrating with Tony Sammartino, Mgr ofSMS’ Customer Service Center, who ran SMS’ data center in 1969…• Jim seemed to have the disease beat thanks in no part to his alwayspositive attitude, competitive spirit and amazing joie de vivre –- He told me last Sunday he was out dancing on Saturday night!!• After countless chemo &rad therapy, he’s still doing battle with it...• So here’s to Jim Carter, HIS-tory hero extraordinaire – keep fighting!