Sparta logo

June 2023

SPARTA President’s Corner

contributed by Randy Springs

This month, we will again be holding our SPARTA meetings via Zoom format. With the removal of mask mandates in NC, we can consider going back to our in-person meetings if we can find an appropriate venue. Let us know if you have any suggestions for a meeting location.

For our June meeting, join us for a presentation from Jim Porrell of Rocket Software . Invite your fellow systems programmers to join us for this informative and interesting virtual meeting.

Please join your colleagues online at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 6, on Zoom. Watch for speaker details and meeting connection information coming your way soon.

Randy Springs
Retired (Truist)

Future Speakers (subject to change)

June 6, 2023 - Modern Analytics with Mainframe Monitoring by Jim Porell of Rocket Software

July 11, 2023 (Special Date) - TBA

We need ideas and volunteers for future speakers. Presentations don’t have to be fancy, just informative and interesting. Even a 5 or 10 minute talk can start an interesting interaction. Contact Ron Pimblett by phone as noted below.

2022-2023 SPARTA

Board of Directors

Randy Springs - President

Retired (Truist)                  (919) nnn-nnnn


Raleigh, NC 27604

Ron Pimblett - Vice President

MDI Data Systems

Land line 613 599 6970

Mobile 613 981 6919

190 Guelph Private

Kanata, ON K2T 0J7

Chris Blackshire - Secretary

Retired (Dell, Perot Systems, Nortel)  (919) nnn-nnnn


Durham, NC 27713

Randy Springs - (Acting) Treasurer

Retired (Truist)                  (919) nnn-nnnn

see Randy

Springs earlier

Ed Webb -  Communications Director

Retired (SAS Institute Inc.)  (919) nnn-nnnn


Apex, NC 27523

Mike Lockey -  Web Master

Guilford Co. Information Services  336-641-6235

201 N. Eugene St.

Greensboro, NC 27401


Coronavirus Change: All meetings for the foreseeable future will be held online at 7 p.m. via the Zoom App. The link to meeting is sent to SPARTA Mailing list within 24 hours of the meeting time for security reasons. Stay safe.

Meetings are scheduled for the first Tuesday evening of each month (except no meeting in January), with optional dinner at 6:15 p.m. and the meeting beginning at 7:00 p.m.

These monthly meetings usually are held at LabCorp’s Center for Molecular Biology and Pathology (CMBP) near the Research Triangle Park (see last page). Take I-40 to Miami Boulevard and go north. Turn right onto T.W. Alexander Drive. Go about a mile or so. Then turn right into LabCorp complex and turn Left to the CMBP Building (1912 T.W. Alexander Drive). In the lobby, sign in as a visitor to see Bill Johnson. Bill will escort you to the conference room.

Call for Articles

If you have any ideas for speakers, presentations, newsletter articles, or are interested in taking part in a presentation, PLEASE contact one of the Board of Directors with your suggestions.

Newsletter e-Mailings

The SPARTA policy is to e-mail a monthly notice to our SPARTA-RTP Group. The newsletter is posted to the website about five (5) days before each meeting so you can prepare. The SPARTA distribution List is maintained by Chris Blackshire; if you have corrections or problems receiving your meeting notice, contact Chris at

April 2023 “CBT Tape” Shareware Online

The directory and files from the latest CBT tape V505 (dated April 24, 2023) are available from

If you need help obtaining one or more files, contact Ed Webb (see Board of Director’s list for contact info).

Minutes of the May 2, 2023 Meeting

• The May 2, 2023 meeting was called to order at 7:06 PM by Randy Springs, the SPARTA President.

• This Thirty-third (April 2020 to May 2023) virtual SPARTA meeting was held via the Zoom Software.

• Eleven (11) people were present at the virtual meeting.

• The business portion of the meeting preceded the presentation.

• For the Roundtable, everyone introduced themselves, told where they worked, talked about working from home, and briefly described their job functions and what they've been doing at work and home.


• The minutes of the April 4, 2023 meeting as published in the March 2023 Newsletter was approved.

• The April 30, 2023 Treasurer's report (there was No Activity to-date in 2023) as published in the May 2023 Newsletter were approved. As of April 30, 2023, the current balance was $994.51.

• Call For Articles: Articles are needed for this newsletter. If you would like to write an article for this newsletter, please contact Ed Webb. Keep in mind that you don't really need to write the article, it can be an article that you read that you would like to share with the membership.

• The SPARTA Web page is available at this site: Please send any comments or suggestions about the Web page to Mike Lockey. Be sure to check the Web page every once in a while to see any new or changed information.

• 2023 meeting dates, Future Speakers and Topics (subject to change based on internal politics, budget, the weather):





June 6, 2023

Pyramid Systems, Inc.

Rachel Massey


July 11, 2023




August 1, 2023




September 12, 2023

Retired (SAS)

Ed Webb

SHARE Update New Orleans, LA
Aug 13-18, 2023

October 3, 2023




November 7, 2023




December 5, 2023




If you have suggestions about speakers and topics, contact Ron Pimblett.

• The next SPARTA monthly meeting will be held virtually on Tuesday, June 6, 2023.

• The annual dues have been suspended (motion passed in the March 2021 monthly meeting).

• Thanks to Randy Springs for online hosting the May 2 meeting via Zoom.

• There are currently about 100 people on the SPARTA e-mail distribution list.

• Send any e-mail address changes to Chris Blackshire so he can update the SPARTA distribution List. The SPARTA meeting notices are being sent via a simple distribution list maintained by Chris.

• Randy Springs is looking for a new Treasurer volunteer. He projects about 2 hours per month is needed.
- Contact Randy Springs if you are interested.

• Randy Springs has setup a SPARTA group on LinkedIn. Please join.

• There was discussion about a possible 2023 in person meeting, depending on vaccinations and room availability. Stay tuned.
- LabCorp Future Meeting Place: No update from Bill Johnson.


• We will continue meeting virtually for now with a future in-person meeting date TBD. Stay tuned.
• Randy will contact Bill Johnson to determine the LabCorp meeting place status.
• The Business portion of the meeting ended about 7:30 P.M.

• The Presentation started at 7:30 PM.

• Presentation Topic: Mainframes and the Moon
The Role Played by IBM Mainframes in the Greatest Technical Achievement in the History of Mankind

By Mark Nelson, IBM Poughkeepsie

• Agenda
Why is the Manned Space Program Such a Good Story?
It’s a Local Story!
It’s a Story about the Times
Singularity of Vision
The Roots of the Cold War
The Stages of the US Space Program Leading up to the Lunar Landing
Let’s Talk About the Mainframes!
The Iconic Apollo Control Room
It’s Not a Mainframe but….
Where did we go Next?
What Happened to the Mainframe?
Where we Stand

The online presentation ended at about 8:40 PM and the Q&A session ended at 9 PM.

• Presentation Access - See Below for a full outline of the presentation.

For those who missed the meeting, the Zoom 1 hr, 14 min presentation was recorded. See the video at: 20230502 SPARTA Mainframes and the Moon

See the SPARTA webpage for all recent presentations including this one.

Contact Info:
Speaker: Mark Nelson, CISSP, CSSLP
z/OS Security Server (RACF) Design and Development
IBM Poughkeepsie

• The May 2, 2023 monthly meeting ended about 9:00 P.M.

Treasurer’s Report for May 2023

contributed by Randy Springs

The balance in the account is $994.51 as of May 31, 2023.

SPARTA Financial Report
05/01/2023 through 05/31/2023


Opening Balance 04/1/2023


Total Deposits

Food money donated











Web Site


Petty Cash


Bank Service Charges






PETTY CASH on hand




Items of Interest

SPARTA Schedule and Menu for 2023

contributed by Chris Blackshire

June 6, 2023 - Chicken
July 11, 2023 - Subs (July 4 holiday falls on the first Tuesday meeting date)
Aug 1, 2023 - BarBQ
Sept 12, 2023 - Pizza (Labor Day holiday is Monday Sept 4)
Oct 3, 2023 - Chicken
Nov 7, 2023 - Subs
Dec 5, 2023 - BarBQ

View Event Proceedings from SHARE Atlanta

contributed By Ed Webb

"SHARE Atlanta event proceedings are now available for SHARE members to download on Explore session handouts with information on all of the hottest topics from SHARE Atlanta."

Early Bird registration discounts for SHARE New Orleans August 13-18, 2023 at Hyatt Regency New Orleans are available until July 7.

 Check out the SHARE New Orleans 2023 website for details.

Quantum-Safe Cryptography For Today’s Mainframe Security

contributed By Ed Webb

"…. Distinguished Engineer Anne Dames, cryptographic technology architect at IBM, shares her insights into quantum-safe cryptography with the mainframe.

…. Quantum computers, Dames explains, “use qubits or quantum bits with multiple states, which enable users to complete different kinds of processes to solve complex problems in, for instance, areas like materials science chemistry or in cryptography.”

The Role of Quantum-Safe Cryptography      

As quantum computing improves and becomes “cryptographically relevant” in terms of factoring large numbers outside the reach of classical computers, the security of traditional hardware, like the mainframe, could be compromised. Why would bad actors want to break into the mainframe? Mainframe computing has traditionally included the business of buying and selling and the transfer of ownership.

According to Dames, systems like the mainframe use cryptography for use cases, such as protecting the integrity of the firmware running on the system. Individual applications also have their own cryptographic algorithm requirements for use cases that require confidentiality, authentication, integrity, or proof of authorship. These cryptographic algorithms need to be resistant to attacks from both classical and quantum systems.

Learn more about using Quantum-Safe Cryptography in this SHARE blog article.

Validated Boot Activation APAR

Contributed by Ed Webb

"Validated Boot for z/OS® is a solution that uses digital signatures to provide an initial program load (IPL)-time check that validates that IPL data is intact, not tampered with, and originated from a trusted source. It also enables detection of unauthorized changes to software executables."

"Documentation for the Validated Boot function can be found in the following URLs (case-sensitive):

Validated Boot White Paper

Validated Boot for z/OS PDF"

Learn more about this upcoming IBM z/OS security technology at this Validated Boot for z/OS webpage.


Wit and Wisdom continued

contributed by Ed Webb

Men stumble over pebbles, not mountains.
Never underestimate the power of denial.
Half the trouble of this life can be traced to saying 'yes' too quickly, and not saying 'no' soon enough.

Laziness is nothing more than resting before you get tired.
No one wants advice; only corroboration.
Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.

Membership Information

Don’t Forget the Next SPARTA Meeting

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

7 p.m.

Location: Online

Information about access to our online meeting will be sent to our e-mail list by Tuesday, June 6.

Free Food before meeting: Your Food at Your Home


Modern Analytics with Mainframe Monitoring


by Jim Porell of Rocket Software

SPARTA Corporate Sponsors:

DTS Software

Rocket Software

Software Diversified Services


May 2023 Presentation outline

• Presentation Topic: Mainframes and the Moon
The Role Played by IBM Mainframes in the Greatest Technical Achievement in the History of Mankind

By Mark Nelson, IBM Poughkeepsie

This session focuses on the role of the IBM Mainframe. We are not focusing on:
• The contributions of all of the other providers of information technology that were used in the United States space program through the lunar landing. We look forward to them telling their stories.
• The amazing other computing technologies used onboard the Apollo Command Module or the Lunar Module
• Events (Skylab, Space Shuttle) which occurred after the lunar landing on 20 July 1969.

A big “thank you” to everyone who worked on these mainframes and to Max Campbell at the IBM Archives for his invaluable assistance!

• Agenda
Why is the Manned Space Program Such a Good Story?
It’s a Local Story!
It’s a Story about the Times
Singularity of Vision
The Roots of the Cold War
The Stages of the US Space Program Leading up to the Lunar Landing
Let’s Talk About the Mainframes!
The Iconic Apollo Control Room
It’s Not a Mainframe but….
Where did we go Next?
What Happened to the Mainframe?
Where we Stand

Why is the Manned Space Program Such a Good Story?
- It’s a story that combines all of the elements of a great story:
-- Life and death drama
-- Singularity of vision and purpose
-- Engaging, passionate characters
-- Technology (physics, chemistry, electrical engineering, computer science, materials…)
-- Politics, Finance, Management
-- Mainframes!
-- … and after all the trials and tribulations, a happy ending.

It’s a Local Story!
- With 20,000 contractors and subcontractors, virtually every state in the United States contributed!
- Take New York, for example:
-- IBM Poughkeepsie
-- IBM Kingston
-- IBM Fishkill
-- IBM Endicott
-- IBM Owego
-- US Military Academy, West Point
-- Grumman Aerospace, Bethpage
--… and many others

It’s a Story about the Times: 1968 Event Pictures

It’s a Story about the Times: 1969 Event Pictures

Singularity of Vision
- President John F. Kennedy’s 25 May, 1961 speech before a Joint Session of Congress
-- "We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.""
- President John F. Kennedy’s 12 September 1962 at Rice University
-- "First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish."

The Roots of the Cold War
- Yalta Conference, February 4-11, 1945
- Potsdam Conference, 17 July to 2 August 1945.
- Sputnik: First artificial satellite launch, 4 October, 1957
- Yuri Gagarin: First human in space, 12 April, 1961

The Stages of the US Space Program Leading up to the Lunar Landing
- Project Vanguard
-- Goal: Launch a satellite into space
-- During a highly publicized launch on 6 December, 1957, the Vanguard rocket rises four feet, sinks back, and explodes
-- First satellite into space (Explorer 1), launched on a Juno Rocket on 31 January, 1958
-- But the Soviet Union had launched Sputnik 1 on 4 October, 1957

- Project Mercury
-- Goal: One human into earth orbit and return to earth safely.
-- Alan Shepard launches for a 15 minute suborbital flight on 5 May, 1961
-- and John Glenn into an orbital flight on 20 February, 1962
-- But the Soviet Union had launched Yuri Gagarin into an orbital flight on 12 April, 1961

- Project Gemini
-- Goal: Prepare for the lunar mission
-- Two astronauts flew ten missions to work out maneuvers needed for a lunar landing:
--- Extra-vehicular activity (EVA)
--- Space craft rendezvous and docking
--- Extended duration

- Project Apollo
-- Three Astronauts on each mission, with 12 manned missions, most notably:
--- Apollo 1: Launch pad fire on 27 January, 1967. Gus Grissom, Ed White, Roger Chaffee perish.
--- Apollo 7: Manned flights resume on 11 Oct., 1968
--- Apollo 8: First manned flight to the moon in 21 Dec. 1968
--- Apollo 10: “Dress rehearsal” 18 May 1969
--- Apollo 11: Success! 20 July 1969

Let’s Talk About the Mainframes!
• Pre-Space Program: IBM SSEC
- The IBM Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator (SSEC)
-- Based on the electro-mechanical IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (Harvard Mark I).
-- Built at IBM Endicott, installed at 590 Madison Avenue, NYC
-- Electronic and electromechanical design
-- Arithmetic unit: Approximately 12,500 vacuum tubes were used in the arithmetic unit, control, and its eight high-speed registers, which had an access time of less than one millisecond.
-- Control and slow speed registers: Consisted of 21,400 relays with an access time of 20 milliseconds.
-- Calculated position information of the moon and planets;
--- This data was the basis for data used later during the Apollo program

• Project Vanguard Computer Center
- Established June 1957, Washington D.C. with a backup in building 701 in Poughkeepsie N.Y.
- Consisted of an IBM 709 in each location
- Supported orbital calculations and tracking data for satellites
- IBM 709 Data Processing System
-- Vacuum tube technology
-- 180 instructions
-- Improved version of the IBM 704
-- Introduction of the “data-synchronizer units” (we’d call them channels today)
-- 32,768 words of 36-bit word magnetic core memory
-- Could execute 42,000 addition or subtraction instructions per second
-- Could multiply two 36-bit integers at a rate of 5000 per second
-- An optional hardware emulator executed 704 programs

• Real Time Computer Center (RTCC): Project Mercury
- Established in 1960 at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, M.D.
- Three IBM 7090s
- Consolidated information from tracking sites and launch control in Cape Canaveral to provide a real-time continually updated aircraft status
- Special-purpose control program/monitor with limited multiprogramming capabilities - IBM 7090 Data Processing System
-- Transistorized version of the IBM 709
-- Six times faster
-- Far more reliable
-- Half the cost
-- but still $63K a month in 1960 dollars ($612K in 2022 dollars)
-- 32,768 words of 36-bit magnetic core memory (same as 709)

• RTCC: Project Gemini
- Had to control two spacecraft at the same time
- Five IBM 7094s, partition-able into:
-- Two mission systems, one b/u
-- One mission, one test/training, one backup
-- Still has a custom control program/monitor, but commercial off-the-shelf operating system (IBSYS) begins to be used
- IBM 7094 Data Processing System
-- Instruction set increased to 274 instructions
-- A basic machine operating cycle of 2 microseconds
-- Double-precision floating-point operations
- IBM 7094 II
-- Shorter cycle time
-- Less cycles for multiplications and divisions
-- Memory interleaving

• Project Apollo
- Apollo Launch Vehicle: Saturn V
-- 363’ tall, launch weight of 6.5M pounds, capable of lifting 310K lbs. delivered to lower earth orbit, 107K to lunar orbit
-- Three stage launch design:
--- 1:(S-IC, Boeing), five F-1 rockets, 2:41 burn of liquid oxygen/kerosene, altitude 36 NM, 50NM downrange, velocity 7.5KFPS
--- 2:(S-II, North American), five J2 rockets, 6:32 burn of liquid oxygen/hydrogen
--- 3:(S-IVB, Douglas), one J2 rocket two burns, one for orbit insertion (2:30), one for trans-lunar injection (6:00)
- Apollo Landing Vehicle: Lunar Module
-- Designed and manufactured by Grumman (Bethpage, NY)
-- Two stage design: Descent and ascent
-- Dimensions: 23’x31’x31’
-- Could not be flown in earth’s gravity or atmosphere
-- Flown manually for final lunar descent
-- Saved the crew of Apollo 13

- Want to See a Lunar Module in Person?
-- You Can! Visit the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, Long Island!
-- 75 air and spacecraft chronicling over 100 years of aerospace history, focusing on the role of Long Island
-- Special exhibits (currently “The Future is Now: Drones!”, “The Arcade Age”, “Pan Am Flying Boats”)
-- Planetarium
-- Special lectures

• RTCC: Project Apollo
- Transitioned from the five IBM 7094s to five IBM System/360 Model 75Js which were responsible for:
-- Launch systems
-- Management of telemetry data
-- Orbit computation and trajectory determination
-- Mission planning
-- Reentry
- NASA contractors Rockwell and Caterpillar work with IBM to create what is now called IMS to help track the millions of parts needed for the Apollo rockets and spacecraft
- The Apollo Real-Time Operating System (RTOS), a modified version of OS/360 becomes the single operating system to support all Apollo activities

- IBM System/360 Model 75J
-- First non-microcoded System/360
-- Configured with 1M core storage with 750 nanosecond access time
-- Supported four-way interleaved storage
-- Purchase price: $2.5M-$3.5M ($24M-$34M in 2023 dollars)
- RTOS Extensions to OS/360
-- Creation of a new task dispatcher and the concept of tasks which are independent of their creator, run with their own PSW key, and wait for work, which can be queued
-- Support for a synchronized high resolution (10 micro second) clock and interval timer
-- Real-time I/O control system for devices supporting a device-independent display format language
-- Support for IBM 2361 Large Core Storage (4M of additional storage)
-- Fast swap-over (10 seconds) to backup
-- Houston Automatic Spooling Priority (HASP) system to control job input and output

The Iconic Apollo Control Room
- The display consoles in the Apollo Control room were connected back to the IBM System/360 Model 75 through a 2701 control unit

It’s Not a Mainframe but….
- The Saturn Instrument Unit had mainframe reliability characteristics for its mission
-- Built by IBM Huntsville, Alabama, with processors made by IBM Owego
-- Responsible for aircraft trajectory from before liftoff (“Guidance is Internal”) until established in “parking” orbit
-- Saved the Apollo 12 mission when it was struck by lightning during launch causing a complete loss of telemetry
-- As designed, continued the launch to orbit (“SCE to AUX”)
- Saturn Instrument Unit
-- SIU is on display at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama
-- Excellent video on YouTube in the “Smarter Every Day” series: Luke Talley interview
- Which Lead to The Lunar Landing on 20 July 1969
- Launched on 16 July, 1969 at 13:32 UTC and returned to Earth on 24 July, 1969 17:29 UTC
- Commanded by Neil Armstrong, with Buzz Aldrin also in the Lunar Module and Michael Collins remaining in lunar orbit in the Command Module
- One lunar EVA lasting 2:31:40 during which 48 pounds of lunar rocks were gathered
- Lunar activity was watched by an estimated 20% of the population of Earth

Where did we go Next?
• The Apollo 11 lunar landing was not the last event in our space travel activities. It was followed by:
- 6 additional Apollo missions, which landed 10 more men on the moon
- The Apollo-Soyuz joint United States and Soviet Union mission
- Skylab, Spacelab
- The Space Shuttle
- Space Shuttle and IBM Z
-- The Space Shuttle program made extensive use of z/OS (IMS, JES3,PL/I, HL Assembler, C++, RACF), z/VM, and Linux on Z (Redhat)
-- z/OS was used for mission planning, flight software creation, testing, simulation, and loading and validating software onto the orbiter
-- Onboard computing was performed by the IBM-supplied AP-101S General Purpose Computer (GPC)
-- Also used on several military aircraft (B-1, B-52, F-15)
-- Evolved from the S/360 architecture
-- See “Space Shuttle Usage of z/OS” (Jan Green, United Space Alliance), SHARE, 14 August 2007, session 8121

What Happened to the Mainframe?
• The IBM Mainframe continues to evolve, bring more and more processing power and added reliability and security
• The evolution continued through the IBM System/370, 303X, 308X, IBM 3090, System/390, zSeries (900, 800, 990, and 890), System z9, System z10, zEnterprise System (z196, zEC12, z13, z14, z15, z16)
• … and while an operational mainframe never made it to the moon, 37 IBMers were honored when their names were left on the moon during Apollo 15 in recognition of their Apollo efforts

Where we Stand
Nanos gigantum humeris insidentes (If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.) -Isaac Newton

The presentation ended at about 8:55 P.M.