Keane’s Indigenous Products• This week we continue the story of Keane, looking at the series of HIS products they developed internally, before next week, when we start the convoluted tale of the many systems they acquired: – PatCom, SDS, Ferranti, Infostat, LabFusion, First Coast, etc.• When Ray Paris first joined Keane after they acquired Ray Kern’s Innovations in Technology, their emphasis was on FM, Facilities Management, just like Keane’s parent did so well through AMM.• By the late 70s, however, the turnkey mini revolution was taking off, and Keane wrote its own software for IBM System 3 minis.• The IBM mini field was extremely crowded, however, with: – John Sacco’s “JS Data” running on System 32 & 34 minis – Dave Pommerance & Mitch Laskey’s Dynamic Control on Sys 38 – Intermountain Health Care’s MedSeries 4 running on Sys 34s – Plus: HCS, AR/Mediquest, HIS, LeBlanc-Shexnayder, etc.
Creative Alternative…• Being headquartered in Boston, Keane had a number of local firms right in Massachusetts manufacturing minis in competition with IBM, one of whom had been formed back in the 1950s) by founders Drs. An Wang and G. Chu. - They chose Dr. Wang’s name for their firm, and their engineering prowess was far greater than their product naming ability… • Wang first started out making calculators, all the rage in the 60s, then switched to minis in the 70s. • Word Processing became their hot niche, in this era of typewriters and carbon paper, with their introduction an “OIS” (Office Information System) - Hard to imagine how daring this was in the 1970s, when only secretaries could type!
Hardware Options• Keane started offering its HIS on the Wang “VS” mini, which was introduced in 1977, about the same time as DEC’s VAX line, and both went toe-to-toe with IBM’s very popular line of minis: Sys 34, 36, & 38• Keane kept their IBM mini option, as well as the Wang line, giving clients the option of which platform they wanted, unlike other vendors who made them choose.• Soon, Ray Paris and Al Gottlieb, Keane’s tech guru, came up with a better idea: • Back in the 70s & 80s, most minicomputers dictated the OS, DB and programming language: - IBM SYS 3X & AS/400 = RPG, DB2 and OS/400
Pick Your Poison…• So a hospital DP Mgr had to pick an HIS system that matched their expertise:• If you were a DEC shop, you would look at Meditech or SMS’ ACTIon.• If you were a DG shop, you’d look at Compucare or Computer Synergy• How did Wang rate? Way down at #12 per this chart from
Threshold Of A Dream• Ray & Al came up with a daring new concept: offer an HIS that was hardware independent, capable of running on any minicomputer! • For an OS, they chose UNIX, developed in 1969 by a group of Bell Lab employees at AT&T. • Although first developed in assembly language and later written in C, by the late ‘80s almost every computer manufacturer had their own version of UNIX: - IBM = AIX, DEC = OSF-1, Sun Micro = SunOS, Apple = A/UX… - There were even different “flavors,” such as Berkeley “BSD” vs
Threshold• Keane named this new system “Threshold,” and started working on all the financial and clinical apps needed for a complete HIS.• So at one point in the 80s, besides the Wang-based HIS, Keane could install Threshold on any number of different hardware platforms: - IBM’s Series 3X minis - Burroughs mainframes - Data General “MV” series - DEC’s line of VAXes• Unfortunately, writing the applications wasn’t nearly as easy as supporting the hardware!
Build Versus Buy?• Keane now faced the same dilemma many hospitals faced back then: – Building the entire suite of apps for an HIS, which takes a very long time, or – Buying them, a much faster route!• So Keane used its parent company’s deep pockets to pursue both: – Building Threshold one app at a time for those UNIX devotees – Buying up a whole string of competitors, primarily for their client bases, as well as some excellent products as well.• Next week we start the story of the series of HIS vendors Keane acquired, as told from the inside by many HIS-tory heroes like: “As an ex-Ferranti employee (by way of Pentamation), I have to point out an error in your Part 1 of Keane. Ferranti was founded by Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti, who was born in Liverpool, England. He founded the company in about 1885 as a British corporation (not Italian as I wrote). Although international in scope, it was always a British company.” - Gary Pollock, Clark Memorial Hospital - 812.283.2686• Thanks Gary; as Keane’s 90’s ad slogan went: “I didn’t know that!”