Basic Four / was Re: Microdata disk/tape images

Brent Hilpert hilpert at
Sat Feb 7 20:35:31 CST 2015

On 2015-Feb-07, at 4:58 PM, Ian McLaughlin wrote:
>> On Feb 7, 2015, at 4:28 PM, Brent Hilpert <hilpert at> wrote:
>> I programmed for a Microdata/REALITY system as a teenager ca. 1977 (business accounting applications), and I remember Basic Four as another competitor / minicomputer company in the business market, but never knew much about them.
>> Can you (or anyone) briefly describe what distinguished Basic Four in the marketplace? What were they offering that was particular or special or 'interesting'?, esp. if they were using the same CPU initially?
>> From what I remember/can gather, MAI’s claim to fame was their Business Basic.  The MAI Basic Four BB-II machine ran Business Basic which was Basic with a bunch of database-type stuff built in.
> I see your UBC email address, so you may be interested to know that the BB-II machine I acquired in the 90s was originally from the project that constructed Revelstoke dam.  From the software that was installed on it, it appears to have been used for both engineering calculations as well as payroll.

Hmm, used by a sub-contractor to BC Hydro perhaps? I'd think BC Hydro in-house would have tended to be doing such stuff on its mainframes. I could see an engineering department having it's own mini, but payroll would have been more likely to have been handled centrally.

Did it travel far (from BC) to make it into your hands?

BC Hydro is scheduled to be decommissioning a large 60's-era thermal generating plant a few miles from me in the next year or so. I'm considering trying to make contacts there to find out if there might be anything interesting in the way of computer systems being discarded but I suspect the old/original ones have already gone in furnace upgrades 15 years ago.
I used to know the plant manager but he's since retired.

In the past I've missed a large, functioning 70's-era PDP-11 system tossed out during a control-system upgrade at a local oil-refinery (~10 years ago) - I heard about that one after-the-fact from a high-school acquaintance who works in the control room; and a 70's-era Foxboro system tossed when another nearby oil-refinery was dismantled (~20 years ago).

BC Hydro moved it's major system-control station off the top of SFU/Burnaby Mtn. just a few years ago. I know there were large VAX/VMS systems in there as late as the late-90's (not sure which model, I think they were beige+brown rather than white+blue), those were likely discarded too.

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