Multics > People > Stories
06 Nov 2005

Julie Jackson's Multics Bio

Julie Jackson Sibert

Most of my Multics tenure was as Julie Jackson.

I was a USL student from 1976-1980 and had a student-aid job working in the Computer Center for Della Bonnette. I worked in the I/O room, gave tours, conducted training seminars for faculty, helped students with programming assignments, wrote user guides, and in general did whatever needed doing during my years as a USL computer science student.

The reason I was always given for why USL was allowed to buy a Multics system was that the Louisiana State Government ran on a GCOS system and Dr. Terry Walker (Computer Science Department Head of USL) promised that the University's Multics would be the emergency backup (running the GCOS simulator) should it ever become necessary.

Dr. Walker was a "good old boy" who knew his audience. This was the same man who, when I met with him seeking advice on local summer employment (he operated a small programming company on the side and I figured he would be able to direct me to other local businesses who might hire a student for the summer), responded that I "didn't need a job" -- I "needed a sugar daddy". I, totally baffled, having never heard the term before, returned to my student aid job at the Computer Center and in an attempt to figure out what he meant, reported the conversation to my colleagues. I was fairly new to Louisiana (my father was in the Air Force and we had moved there when I was in high school) and I thought the "sugar daddy" phrase might have something to do with the local sugar cane industry. (Yes, I was that naive.) Shortly thereafter, Della Bonnette, then Director of the Computer Center, called to suggest that I stay after the dorms closed to interview with Honeywell for the PRHA project -- and the rest is history!

Della suggested that I interview "for the experience" with Honeywell, who was coming to town to hire for a summer project. I was the lone freshman (and the lone female) hired along with 2 graduate students and 2 seniors to begin work on the Puerto Rican Highway Authority Conversion project. The others were David Burkhardt, Ken Horton, Bill Tims, and Ed ???. I have some great photos and hope to write up some of the stories from this summer, but that will have to come later. My favorite is when Allen Berglund sent us on an "easy" hike up Camelback Mountain -- we missed the parking lot and climbed the wrong (no-trail, loose rocks, multiple hours, "we're going to die") side of the mountain.

My next Multics experience came during the summer between my Junior and Senior year when I was hired by Honeywell Canada to do the benchmark acceptance testing and installation for the two Bell Canada Systems (one in Montreal and one in Toronto). I worked for Swan Tan and John Morrison. Again, there are a couple of fun stories mostly about having to be snuck into the sites in panel vans at night and on weekends to avoid the striking and picketing telephone workers. Oh, and there was meeting Bob Mullen for the first time - he flew out to Phoenix to tune the system. He was still a chain-smoker and didn't eat, sleep, or drink anything but Coke for the duration. It was a very small fishbowl...

After graduating, I was hired by Dave Draper to build the first Multics TAC (Technical Assistance Center) to be run out of the more formal Honeywell Field Engineering Division. It was thought that my summer experiences with Multics made me a "known and accepted" entity to the Multics Development and Support teams in both Phoenix and Cambridge, so this "integration" might be less painful. Multicians were used to taking care of their own customers directly and did not look kindly on this type of "interference" from Honeywell management. The group consisted of myself, Michael Toussaint, George Gilcrease, and Linda Pugh (now Linda Topham).

I stayed with the Multics TAC for awhile, then moved into Honeywell Education, working with Nancy Dibble and Janet Dent (and for Terry Dunnigan). I taught classes at many domestic Multics sites (brain cells are aging and I don't remember them all), but I spent considerable time at Bolling Air Force Base (I was loaned to Judy Young at Honeywell Federal Systems Operations). My best trip was to Mainz, Germany where I taught for two weeks while the system was being installed.

I left Honeywell in 1986 to go to Stratus where I was reunited with many of my Multics friends and eventually married Olin. Now I'm a stay-at-home mom who is never home. That will have to do it for now -- dinner's ready!

Here are some snapshots from the summer of 1977.

11 June 2004, updated 06 Nov 2005