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The period 1983 - 1986:
Personal Computing and FEL-TV

IBM PC Another project by the Research Group 10 (RG10) was to stimulate the use of Personal Computers (PC's) by the Laboratory. To support the interconnection of PCs to the CYBER using asynchronous lines, CDC had released a public domain package called "Remote Micro Facility" (RMF). RMF supported terminal emulation as well as file transfer services between a PC and a CYBER. At the CYBER side, a package partly written in Fortran and partly in Compass (assembler) handled the communication application services.

After a short market analysis it was decided at the end of 1983 that TNO Defense Research would make use of PC's (IBM XT's) and Microsoft of WORD version 3.0 under MS/DOS. In order to support automatic version management of documents, the documents were centrally saved on the CYBER system. Research Group 10, which was responsible for the project, made binary patches in WORD using a binaire editor. Formatting options and other functions were too dangerous in the hands of computer 'illiterate' users as secretaries and the report processing department. Thus, these F-key functions were patched and were removed from the option list. Of course, certain short-cut function keys, CTRL-commands and so one were overlooked. In this way users entered sub-screens, which they could not leave because the screen-commands were blocked. There was NO escape from these back alleys of WORD. This caused the loss of all the work done earlier. During the loading and also during the saving of a document, the file was loaded from/moved to a temporary file. The batch procedure moved this file from/to the CYBER. The user lost all his earlier work now. The combination of WORD and Remote Micro Facility (RMF) was named FEL-TV, a "product name" that previewed the new name of the combined laboraties of the Physics Laboratory and LEOK.

People that worked later than 18.00 hours could be surprised as the saving on the CYBER failed, because the interactive access to the CYBER ended at that time on 18.00 hours. FEL-TV had then a user friendly option. It decided to delete the temporary file, causing all work done to be lost. Also, the instability of the WORD software caused many PC hang-up's, only a RBR could solve that situation. RBR is the abbreviation of "Red Button Reset", the POWER ON/OFF-switch...

FEL-TV promissed "What-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG)", but many times you did not get what you actually had seen on the screen ....

Despite all those initial problems, a much faster stream of documents was initiated. Reports were printed on Daisy-wheel printers. Those printers, however, were designed for printing a letter once in a while. Printing ten hours a day of very thick TNO (draft) reports was something else. Soon, it was necessary to acquire a "heavy-duty" C.Itoh 300 printer. A special preprocessor had to be written to support the Netherlands special character "ij", some Greek characters (beta and mu) as well as other special characters.

Confi or secret

Is it confiture or confidential? The Computer Group received many complaints from the users of FEL-TV. Users could not get their printed output without setting a signature for receiving a confidential or even secret document after creating an unclassified FEL-TV document. This issue was even discussed in the Laboratory's management team. The many scripts around FEL-TV checked the output for the occurrence of strings like "secret", "confi" and "geheim". Words like "confiture" (in the restaurant list), "secretary" and "configuration" triggered the special confidential and secret printing procedures.



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