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A Legacy of Wisdom: The Dr. John Ehrman Interview - Introduction

At SHARE in Atlanta in 2012, I recorded a long discussion with the late Dr. John Ehrman about the history and culture of the mainframe, SHARE, architecture and programming languages as seen from his experience and perspective. This is the first in a series of articles that will share these insights.

Dr. Ehrman was involved in SHARE beginning in February of 1964, two months before the announcement of the IBM System/360 on April 7, and eight-and-a-half years after SHARE was founded in August of 1955. Here’s how he described his first experience and impressions of SHARE:

“It was the first time I had been to a SHARE conference and it was very different from the typical, polite academic conferences that I had been to — a couple of people politely applaud boring speaker after another. That’s by way of contrast to the very first session that I wandered into at SHARE, which was a meeting of the Fortran committee, at which the group that was known as the “three by three committee”— three IBMers and three customer representatives — had been designing what they called the new programing language (NPL for short [now PL/I]). They had copies of this report that they passed out to people and it generated a fair amount of discussion, which is a polite way of saying that there was a lot of shouting going on.”

And so began his long and honorable legacy at SHARE.

Over the course of the interview, he had many more interesting insights, anecdotes and elaborations that paint an informative and entertaining picture of our SHARE’d history. Over the coming months, we will be mining it with care, respect and enthusiasm, writing about what we discover.

Stay tuned for more!

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