Multics > Sites
15 Feb 2003

Site History: PRHA


Puerto Rican Highway Authority
Minillas Station
Santurce, Puerto Rico

[Stanley C. Kitching] Although Santurce is in the heart of San Juan, it is a very distinguished and separate community unto itself of which the natives are rightfully proud ...

First Installed

Aug 1977


Dual 68/80, 2MB, 16 MSU451, 8 MTU, 2 LPR, DN6600, reader, punch


Jose Delgado



Application areas

[Stanley C. Kitching] All phases of governmental data processing ...

Administration, Education, Payroll, Planning, Social Services, etc. as well as Highway Engineering ...

Vehicle and Driver Information System (VADIS)

I only know the PRHA site from the time I spent there, 1978-1981 ... Through Junte de Plannes, the Planning Department, we developed a very nice MRDS data base system with an integrated data dictionary that provided a standardized data processing and planning environment for the ENTIRE Puerto Rican government ... That was no easy chore, but it worked in the end due to some extraordinary programming by Cousin Efrain Rios who provided the routines necessary to convert the data files from ANY other platform that the PR government had to Multics ... This project was deemed InfoSystem and I worked with a company called Planning Research Corporation International to do the design and development ...


The Sale

[Ron Riedesel] Here are some pictures (click any thumbnail for a larger version):

[Ron Riedesel] I recall that we had a minor gaffe on the proposal to the PRHA, when, in the cover letter from Pin Pin to Luis Aparicio, we accidentally spell-checked the following "...Honeywell Information Systems, Inc. is pleased to propose this turkey system..." (sic, "turn-key") and (we're not through yet) "..upon award of this purchase, we will be pleased to enter into controversial negotiations with the Puerto Rican Highway Authority.." (sic, "contractual negotiations"). We had some drinks with Luis Aparicio at the Condado Lounge after explaining the errors in the cover letter, and he said (in his heavily accented English) "That's a relief, after reading that thing about 'controversial negotiations', I was beginning to think it would be easier to buy from Burroughs" .

[Ron Riedesel] I also recollect that, after we were awarded the contract, the IBM Branch Manager in San Juan was fired (the PRHA system was the largest computer system on the island, at that time), and Luis Aparicio told us he'd started carrying a firearm in his car, after receiving telephoned death threats at his home in the middle of the night (for having chosen to leave IBM). It was a small computing world in those days.

Other Anecdotes

[Stanley C. Kitching] I'm not sure about the actual installation date but it had to be sometime in 1977 because ... I went there in January 1978 and they were already up and running at this time and the conversion was in its startup phase ... The IBM / Multics Conversion was completed and turned over to the customer at the beginning of June 1978 ...

One PRHA Conversion Story

[Stanley C. Kitching] We were assigned to convert all programs, mostly PL/1, and data files from existing IBM 360/370 systems to Multics ... The IBM and Multics systems were connected via standard COM lines for file sharing to aid the conversion effort ... Due to the inherent nature of communications systems, there were problems associated with the COM links, and often we could not establish IBM / Multics connections or files would be corrupted during transmission ... Since this was a government site all system modifications had to be approved through proper bureaucratic channels on both the IBM and Multics systems ... Needless to say these channels always do not flow at optimum speeds ...

Our Honeywell Multics manager, a brilliant Cuban fellow named Pedro Diaz, was growing weary of waiting on authorization for system changes ... Pedro had studied the COM problems and was convinced that he knew the solution ... One morning at about 3 AM, I accompanied Pedro into the un-attended IBM machine room ... Pedro searched the IBM rack mounted systems for a while, extracted a couple of circuit boards, re-strapped them, and re-inserted the cards into the rack ...

NO more COM change requests were required ... IBM / Multics COM problems solved ... No one ever knew this Hardware change had been carried out ...


[THVV] I remember that PRHA used MRDS for some database applications, and that there were data corruption problems in vfile_ which consumed a lot of debugging time.

Final Shutdown

[THVV] No solid info on when this happened, or the fate of the hardware. The system was installed well into the 1990s, and got some support from Perigon. Sources there report that PRHA never got the tapes with the Y2K mods, so the system could not have run past Jan 1 2000.

Information from Stanley C. Kitching and Ron Riedesel.