How I Got Into Linux and MySQL

In the 1992 I was asked to create a unique manufacturing shop floor software system whereby assemblers would use computers with pictures and text to complete each task on an assembly line. The system ran on Unisys 386 servers, Novell network (token-ring), and with Microsoft dos on Unisys 286 workstations. The database engine was SPI (Software Products international) Open Access ; the program was written in turbo Pasquale with lots of c hooks. We supported nearly 250 users.

The shop floor system was highly successful. It quadrupled sales, halved production time, tremendously increasing production quality, and resulted in new business from Ford, Allison, and Nissan. Several articles were written about my work appearing in ComputerWorld, AME Target, and WSJ.

In time, a disagreement ensued as to who owned the source code. Since I was not in a position to defend a muti-million dollar law suite, I let them have the code, then developed original code using Microsoft SQL and ASP.

Again company threatened to bring a lawsuit stating that I had used “their” code extensively to create my new product. John Brown, owner of SPI, found himself in a similar situation with Microsoft and was totally obliterated. So I let them have that source code too.

For my next product, I needed something radically different, something that could not be remotely confused with anything I had written in the past. Linux using Slack Ware, PHP, Java, and PostGreSQL was the answer to my prayers.

"The Company" thought it was a joke! 'What, Linux???' However, the resulting product was far better then my previous efforts. Linux proved to be faster and much more reliable. And linux was so efficient I could sell totally redundant servers (fail-over) at the same cost that my competition sold stripped-down single servers. Scalability was unlimited. The results greatly exceeded expectation!

In time, however, we moved from Slack Ware to Debian. Slack Ware was a great linux distro, but the internal references in Slack Ware to satan, atan.S, apple and eve, was troubling to me, and might be to some of my customers as well. With a few changes in code and database structure, we also expand our database offerings to DB2 Oracle, and MySQL.

Interesting thing about this technology. Even though we developed it in 1992, Caterpillar, who acquired the software through acquisition, is just now rolling out this production model to all of it's manufacturing facilities, worldwide.

Go figure. Perhaps I should think about dusting off the code and making another run at it.

Link to first ComputerWorld article:
Link to 1995 video of the software on a production line (5 minutes):
Link to a 1996 software demo:

If you find this interesting, please drop me a line