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Everyone a computer specialist: a case for the development of user orientated autocode languages using the notation and terminology of the type of application.

Why not? Well, let us look at the realism of such a statement. Present day thinking has led to the establishment of computer departments with the usual structural divisions. That is system analysis, programming and operations. This department is usually completely independent of line departments and is used to undertake the conversions of departmental procedures on to a computer system. This leaves the user department in the position of complete dependence on the computer department for the running, modification and development of the system.

In the computer centre the personnel working on the implementation of line department systems tend to be entirely computer orientated and have little knowledge of the functions of the various departments of the organisation. The result is a communications problem with the computer department having to undertake long term investigations to establish the requirements of the user departments.

Practically there are many problems associated with this set up. Firstly the shortage of adequate computer staff has forced the salary scales to astronomic levels. Secondly, the user departments staff are quite often hostile to the idea of strangers organising their work schedules and method of operation. There are many other problem areas which are very familiar to all computer users.

The problem would appear to be in the level of communication with the machine. Although programming languages are supposedly becoming easier to comprehend, it is still necessary to have programmers specially trained for the sole purpose of writing programs. Similarly, systems analysts must be very familiar with the complexities of computer usage if any measure of efficiency is to be achieved.

Surely then the answer must be with user orientated autocode languages. Languages developed with the user department in mind using the notation and terminology of the type of application. This sort of thinking is already in the minds of the big computer users who are looking at a centralised powerhouse approach with the computer department developing programming languages understandable and usable by line departments.

In a way a pointer towards this technique has already been outlined with the ease with which scientific and mathematical problems can be solved directly by the use of Fortran and Algol. These are user languages and little knowledge of a particular computer is needed for a mathematician to be able to use it with effect.

Perhaps then the vast investment in Cobol and PLI should be turned towards looking at this aspect of computer technology. After some study it is apparent that there are not too many different languages necessary and within each language levels of usage can easily be established for the various areas of operation. Who knows, if this approach becomes a reality, everyone will be able to be given the advantage of computers, and it does in some measure aid the staff shortage problem. Maybe we may even see the board room on line.

The writer would welcome any ideas or suggestions relating to this article.

NEW BROCHURE ON 1900 subroutines package

A ten-page colour brochure describing "More Subroutines!," the new subroutines package specially written to help speedup the commissioning and increase the day-to-day operating efficiency of ICL igoo series computers, is now available from 1900 Programming Ltd., of Domlin House, Maltravers Street, W.C.2.

The package which has been written for use with the 1900 language PLAN, puts full emphasis on practical day-to-day operation. It is claimed that by using this "high level" PLAN it is possible to achieve rates of program development at least comparable with COBOL on a normal commercial job--without the limitation associated with the latter.

Routines in the package include those for handling input and output on basic peripherals; converting sterling and decimals; manipulating characters; holding numeric information in packed-digit format, and numerous others.

1900 Programming Ltd., are the independent software consultants specialising exclusively in 1900 series computers.

K. Johnston, 1900 Programming Ltd

The original text from Vol. No.1 1969
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Author:Johnston, K.
Publication:Software World
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2009
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