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  1. Technology
March 9, 1987


By CBR Staff Writer

The winners of the first programming tools development competition in the UK, racily dubbed the 4GL Grand Prix, was Majorgreen with its Pick-based System Builder product – and ICL had the misfortune to hobble in last with its Quickbuild under VME, but immediately claimed extenuating circumstances, saying that British Telecom’s Telecom Gold network was down for two crucial hours. The 11 competititors underwent seven tests in two 12-hour sessions. The problem set by Computing Futures Ltd, a software consultancy house, was to develop and carry out tests on an airline reservation system. The seven categories in which the companies were tested included productivity, change of file specification, batch work, enquiries, portability, documentation and flair. The winner of the productivity test was Majorgreen; Sanderson Computers Ltd, with its Sanderson Development System – also a Pick product – won the file change section; Progress, a Unix product distributed by Slinn Computer Group in the UK came out top in batch work; Majorgreen was again awarded the first prize for the enquiries section; Pro Lab with its Pro-IV Unix system won the portability section, porting to seven different machines; ICL with Quickbuild came first in the documentation section; and Majorgreen scored its hat trick by taking the flair section. At the outset of the test, most of the competitors were predictably confident and thought the problem a relatively straightforward test but only three of the 11 managed to complete in all seven categories. ICL, with a lowly 195 points, muttered darkly about the British Telecom lines, and after complaints from other contestants, the organisers are thinking of using Mercury links for next year’s run. The full list, with marks out of 900 were as follows:

Majorgreen System Bldr Pick 776

Pro Lab Pro IV Unix 695

Slinn Comp Progress Unix 638

Sanderson Sanderson Pick 537

Philips Memphis prop 468

Simdell Libra Unix 456

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Star Cmtrs Informix Unix 376

McCor & Dg Millenium MVS 369

Data Ntwks Omen Plus unkn 282

ICl Quickbuild VME 195

Cmptr Asst CA Universe MVS –

The winner comes from Atech Systems of Zurich, Switzerland; Memphis is an unannounced Philips product, entered by the company to see how much more work we need to do on it; Computer Associates failed to complete the course; no details were available on Data Networks or its product at the prize-giving at the Kensington Roof Garden. The sponsor, Computer News, was pleased, with the number of entrants who took part despite the stiff UKP4,000 entrance fee; and expects it to become an annual event. The organisers will, of course, have to change the problem because as the McCormack & Dodge entrants said, we will see a number of airline reservation system development tools come to market over the next 12 months as a result of the competitive exercise.

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