People Profile

Chandru Murthi, Pick Systems Pioneer!

1. How did you get started in PICK?

With a degree in IE/OR (Operations Research, a branch of applied math) from UC Berkeley, I was hired by General Analytics in late 1970, where Pick had just moved from TRW, bringing the GIM system (on an IBM360) for further development. I was, oddly, hired for my OR expertise (can’t say experience, since I had none) for a very large project for NBC that never came through. So Pick asked me to write a terminal driver in FORTRAN. That was the start of a 10-year relationship, through GA’s bankruptcy, working six months in a Los Angeles garage on the Microdata 800 implementation, to Pick & Associates’ home on SkyPark Circle in Irvine. My first major project was writing one-half (Dick did the other) of the firmware for the Microdata 1600. I left Pick in late ’79 and worked with many licensees at the OS level.

2. Why do you think MultiValue applications continue to thrive despite being greatly exaggerated otherwise?

Conventional reasoning seems to be that Pick applications are much easier to prototype, develop, and implement than competing database apps. Pick also seems to appeal to a certain iconoclastic type of developer and was accessible to many non-programmers, so smaller companies that could not afford an extensive IT staff would get others to help out with pressing issues.

3. What is a memorable event or funny story from your time in the market?

Though this is quite esoteric, got to be the first time Microdata was demonstrating Reality (may not have had that name,) to a major prospective client who required 7 (yes, 7) terminals simultaneously accessing the database randomly. The terminals ran in automatic mode, displaying a screen of data, making a few data changes, and filing the item. Just before the demo, a major disc I/O glitch was causing crashes every few minutes. Pick finally came up with a program that ran on terminal 0, which monitored the disc driver, and restarted it if it was frozen. Several of the terminals would pause, glitch a bit and come back to life, sometimes repeating the data display. This was not particularly noticed by the observers, who signed a major contract with Microdata.

4. What are you doing now?

I retired last year when I moved back to San Francisco after 19 years in Brooklyn, NY. Looking for (non-computer) things to do!

5. What are you passionate about and why?

As a result of my expertise and a good deal of luck, I spent 48 years working exclusively on Pick, the last 18, including developing a major “low-code” browser-based development platform with a UV back-end. But passionate about computers? No. My son would complain when he asked about how to “fix” his PC, and I’d say I knew nothing about computers in general. I love other things mostly, arts and music (I worked in a small theatre for a while, and wish I were trained in music.) I got a Master’s degree in Sustainability as I developed a deep interest in it and related issues like Urban Development and how it affects the well-being of residents. I considered a career change briefly as a Sustainability Consultant, but ultimately, coding was much easier than starting a new business.