Open University T306

T306 Block 2: Activity 5

Describe an Information System with which you are involved

This activity requires me to construct a system map of an IS. Due to my prior tardiness I’m going to miss that bit out, although I’ll come back and revisit it if necessary.

I’m going to describe an ancient IS from a previous employment. This was back in the ’90s before large-scale computer systems were the norm. The site where I worked had a collection of “dumb” terminals – there were visual display units that had a rudimentary screen and keyboard and only had enough on-board processing to display information from a central computer mainframe. Each dumb terminal was connected to a local telephone point using a technology called “data over voice” (DOV). There was a DOV box on each end of the telephone line.

In the computer room was a BT Krone frame where these telephone lines ended up. The data from the connected DOV box was fed into the core of the IS in some fashion (I can’t quite remember this aspect of it) so that the dumb terminals could connect to the mainframe. The mainframe itself stored this data on some utterly ancient Winchester disks. There were two computer guys that maintained the mainframe and I was involved in the maintenance side of the dumb terminals (among other things).

Some of our more remote locations used a modem to connect to the mainframe. Comms guys may be impressed by the ultra-fast 2k4 modems we had at our disposal. I’m never going to complain about the slowness of my 10Mbps Internet connection at home, that is for certain.

The IS had a purpose – it supported the work of the various locations – and it did it well. For 1990.

  1. Hi Sel,

    To be honest I can’t remember who made them. I’ve used Wyse terminals later on and the odd HP VT100 console but I can’t remember who made the ones from my RAF days.

    ISs were so much simpler back in the day…

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