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– Guestbook

This page is a place for users of BTI computers, or former employees, to leave stories and recollections. Share your memories below! Because of spammers, all submissions go through a spam filter service, taking a few seconds to be approved. If you would rather communicate privately, use the email link at the bottom of this page.

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Robert Knight writes...
I was a Technical Service rep for Reynolds and Reynolds from 1978 until 1989. I fondly remember working with these behemoths using Reynolds software in auto dealerships all over the country. We had a great working relationship with BTI and with many of their field techs. Those were some great days for both companies.
Posted on January 26, 2017 - 14:53:55 EST
Clayton Weimer writes...
While working myself through Cal St. Disneyland (Cal State Fullerton that is) I worked up the road for 2 years at Beckman Instruments in Brea California. A few bright biology scientists had kludged together a small hospital Laboratory Management System (LMS) to hook up with the other laboratory test equipment Beckman was known for in those days. It was on the BTI-5000, the software was written in Basic, and BTI (or a consultant they recommended) got real interested and help them with their search algorithms etc. (first time I heard of the term b-tree). Beckman got real interested and made a product out of it, and I was hired as a programmer’s aide to test and help debug.

Basic was my first language, but by that time I was learning Pascal in school and was already realizing the beauty in modularization and specification.

I loved the BTI-5000. The code? Not so much, but it was a great environment.

Then Beckman got real serious and began product development based on BTI-8000. Our language would be Pascal! But nobody (other than me) really understood Pascal, and much less software engineering processes required to put out a robust product. So quickly several engineers were brought into the team, including outside contractors were hired. What I remember best about the whole experience is I learned more about software engineering from them than I ever did in school (my degree was C.S.). My second memory was asking a manager for a raise and pointing out my accomplishments over other engineers who were at a higher pay grade. He quickly pointed to my lack of a degree and I said “what does that matter, I’m better?” He said, “Look at it from management’s point of view, a degree shows that you can accomplish something, that you can finish something.” Apparently programming accomplishments alone didn’t mean very much, so I quit and went back to being a full time student.

Here’s the brochure for the LMS system, I believe its a BTI-5000? I could be wrong.
Posted on January 15, 2016 - 15:35:33 EST
Scott Golding writes...
I was late to the game, starting using a BTI-5000 and an -8000 in 1989. I made the start of a great career developing and maintaining systems to run pulp mills from '89 until newer technologies rendered the old dumb terminals (et al) obsolete; Y2K was the nail in the coffin, and we shut them all down in '98 or so. I'm proud to still have a few BTI parts in my garage and the nameplate from my last 8000 still in my office. I miss the wonderful reliability and great tech support!
Posted on July 3, 2015 - 20:26:29 EDT
bill schmitt writes...
just brousing
Posted on May 28, 2015 - 00:17:39 EDT
Brian Richards writes...
How great to find this! I was a user at Bryant College (BTI 4000) and and employee after graduation in 1980. I was hired by Sam Cohen and worked for Shirley Henry,
Posted on February 22, 2015 - 08:53:28 EST
Juergen Kaiser writes...
I was a BTI employee from 1974 to1994 and worked in Manufacturing
Posted on March 14, 2014 - 15:55:00 EDT
Walt Corwin writes...
Hi. Is this site still active?

Walt Corwin - BTI Field Service 1975 -1979
Posted on December 10, 2013 - 17:22:51 EST
Al Zimmerman writes...
Hey, it's great to find this site. Thanks for putting it together.
Posted on May 28, 2013 - 22:04:16 EDT
Tim Rice writes...
In Junior High School and High School I was lucky enough to attend a school that ran a succession of BTI systems. From the BTI3000 through the BTI5000. It was my introduction to Computers, and Computer Programming.

Today, I manage multi million dollar systems that in turn manage 10's of millions of dollars of computer hardware. It all started on a BTI3000 running BASIC.

Thank you BTI.
Posted on October 19, 2012 - 13:12:15 EDT
Charley Hall writes...
As a former (1977-2009) Reynolds and Reynolds employee, I remember when there was the backlog of
computers in inventory. This was prmarily due to the economic conditions at the time. This actually occured in 1979 when I was the local service rep in Richmond, VA. In the fall of that year Reynolds announced what they called CAMPAIGN 80, a sales blitz designed to reduce and eventually elilminate the back log. There was sustantial discounting of the VIM III comupters, which were BTI mainframes with Reynolds and Reynolds software. This initiative wsa successful. In 1982 Reynolds came out with the Vim Net computers which was the beginning of the end of the relationship between Reynolds and BTI.
Posted on April 10, 2012 - 19:44:28 EDT
bill schmitt writes...
Paul Roberts: If your 5000 has a front panel like the 4000, that allows you to
halt the system and peek and poke memory, I may be able to help you
revive it.

My experience tells me that a conversation with an industrial rep who handles
drive belts might find you a belt that would get that drive spinning.

I'm at
Posted on March 17, 2012 - 01:22:21 EDT
Paul Roberts writes...
I'll send you an e-mail. I'm just cleaning up after some flooding so have been pretty busy but it looks like most of the material made it through OK. Some of the original manuals I'm drying. It looks like OTI was reselling BTI systems in cooperation with CTI (California Time Sharing I believe) and that is why I seem to have a number of sales related material.
Posted on January 27, 2012 - 00:51:26 EST
Jim Battle writes...
Paul -- when you submit your comment, I have no idea how to contact you. I'm very interested in getting a copy of your slides. Please contact me:

Posted on January 6, 2012 - 03:57:36 EST
Paul Roberts writes...
Huh, Interesting! I was cleaning the basement tonight and thought I had found some misplaced family photos but it turns out to be two slide cases of BTI architecture slides. For example, color charts of BTI 8000 Variable Resource Architecture (32-bit, 67 nanosecond bus), pictures of "1970s - 1 machine - many programs - many users, BTI Innovation Strategy, etc. color charts, graphs...

I'm guessing this is the predecessor of the "Powerpoint" presentation perhaps shown to potential customers. It probably doesn't cover any specs not already on the BTI8000 page but it is in color with graphics. Maybe I can fire up the old slide scanner and put the slideshow into a PDF file or something.
Posted on January 6, 2012 - 02:23:55 EST
Ray Smith writes...
Very happy to see the entry by my old boss, Lou Yurek, and I'm curious to hear what happened to him after he left for Ireland.

I will dig through the attic and see what I have to donate.
Posted on October 9, 2011 - 23:50:25 EDT
Joe Briggs writes...
We ran a BTI computer for our 3 store retail furniture operation in Dallas, TX in the mid 80's. Accounting and Inventory Management Software package was written by two former EDS employees. We had to enroll in Basic X computer language courses at the local technical college so we could help keep the system running.

The secret passwords to reset date and other CPU maintenance and other hardware issues put the machine out of use, once the BTI shop was now longer available for tech support. As I understand it, BTI was instrumental in helping to bring database management into the public arena.

Concerning the comment by Paul Roberts concerning the OKIDATA hard drives; Several others we knew, at the time that were using the BTI system were converting to the newer compact PC type hard drives.

Glad to find the BTI history website. This brings back a lot of memories. Must add that converting from old paper based inventory and accounting systems was a big task and I learned that acquiring a computer was like adopting a newborn baby. They can require a lot of attention and can get cranky at times.

I am still an IBM PC clone user currently using Windows 7 & XP Pro, since AutoCAD and most of the available wood engineering applications run on Windows. However as I contemplate the passing of Steve Jobs, I very much appreciate his and Steve Wozniak for humanizing the computer and for developing the GUI. My son is a dedicated Mac pro user.
Posted on October 6, 2011 - 10:56:28 EDT
Paul Roberts writes...
I have a BTI 5000 in the basement. I believe it was what would have been 'Oregon Timeshare Incorporated'. I used it briefly before the hard drive threw a belt. Try to ask any modern computer supply store where you can get a belt for an Okidata hard drive --Two most popular responses are "A belt?" and "Okidata makes hard drives?" I tried to repair it but I think the front-panel code looked up as 'drive not up to speed'.

At one point I called BTI support to ask about the maintenance password so I could play a bit more through the maintenance port instead of the 'basicx' user accounts (as I recall). To my surprise I was told they couldn't provide that because there were still a number of auto dealers actually using that model. I think support was a bit surprised there was a 5000 not in a data center too. :-)
Posted on August 15, 2011 - 18:52:35 EDT
bill schmitt writes...
In the early 80s, it became apparent that my timesharing users were going to migrate to their own computers, and at the time my impression was that they would pay from 15 to 20 thousand for such a system that would run their applications, which were built on my DBMS.

(Since I had no imagination at the time, someone at BTI named it "MINDS")

IIRC, at the time the BTI 5000 in a minimum configuration was about $25,000., simply too much
for the market here.

At the same time, computer memory was rapidly getting denser and cheaper, so that the system wouldn't need disk-based swap tracks, and the user space
of about 12 KB could be expanded at minimal cost.

I brought these subjects up with BTI marketing, but didn't find much interest. It was obvious that all the resources were going to the 8000 program, and I can't honestly say that the 8000 wasn't the best bet at the time for BTI, but with some new small-end product, my shop would have turned into a systems house, and maybe some others out there, and this might have merged into the PC
stream and kept BTI alive.

Coulda, woulda, shouda.

As long as we're throwing stones, my own big error was not translating MINDS into Microsoft Basic. There never was a shortage of DBMS software for small systems, but we'll never know how many chips were left on the table.
Posted on August 10, 2011 - 00:55:25 EDT
Don Cosner writes...
I worked on the travel team for 4 years or so. Some of the gang was, Jack Vanmeel, Bill Dollahite, Dennis Pramstaller, Mike Hoffer, Rodney Hofner, Eric Minoski, John Diehl, Bert Briggs, and lots of others I will try to remember more names and list as the old brain allows.

Great to see the site. Brings back some very fun memories.

Thanks for sharing.
Posted on July 29, 2011 - 17:31:37 EDT
John Loewen writes...
It was neat to find your BTI-8000 website this evening. I was having a conversation with a friend this last weekend and my years of working on the BTI-8000 came up. I wanted to look up and find out what happened to the company. I thought it was a great computer in it's day. I'm glad I found your website.

I went to Southwestern Adventist College (SAC) in Keene, Texas from 1979-1983. Some time during that time the college bought a BTI-8000. The computer center was run by Steve Sowder (he may have actually been responsible for purchasing it) and during my last couple of year there took Basic, Pascal, and COBOL. From what I understood, there were only 2 BTI-8000's in the state of Texas at the time. The other one was at Old American County Mutual Fire Insurance Co, in Dallas, TX. Old American was looking for entry level programmers so where better to go to find one than 1 hour away at SAC. Steve recommended me for the job which I took and started around Jan 1983. I worked there for 3 years before moving on to IBM mainframe shops. I had never heard of BTI since then so it was good to read about the history on your website.

Thanks for sharing...
Posted on July 5, 2011 - 22:50:04 EDT