The Origins of GENESYS, the General Engineering System (Part 2)

Speakers: Brian Shearing
Date: Thursday 18th November 2021
Time: 14:30

25 Copthall Ave, London EC2R 7BP and
Via the Internet using ZOOM.


About the seminar

GENESYS, the GENeral Engineering SYStem, was commissioned by the Ministry of Public Building and Works in 1968. It was a way of writing and using engineering software that worked, without change, across all major mainframes of the day, something that unfortunately could not be said for software written in the various dialects of FORTRAN available then. The ministry also commissioned the establishment of the GENESYS Centre which opened in 1972 and was charged with promoting, teaching, developing and expanding the applications that ran under the system. The speaker was chief programmer of the team that built the central system. The seminar is the first of two, the second being next season, and explores what the system was like, what its influences were and how it came to be commissioned.

About the speaker

Last November’s talk about GENESYS, the GENeral Engineering SYStem commissioned by the Ministry of Public Building and Works in 1968, ended with the contract let and a team with experience of two prototypes ready to start work. The second half of the talk explains the building of the system. It compares methods for constructing a substantial piece of software in 1970 with techniques available today. The talk also attempts to position GENTRAN, the language at the heart of the system, in the historical context of the evolution of programming languages.

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