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The AUTODIN Legacy Project

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Autodiners are individuals who have worked in the AUTODIN Project from approximately 1960 to 1999, or are  now still working In a DTH (DMS Transition Hub) center, or in the new DMS (Defense Message System) network, since January 1, 2000. This includes CONUS and Overseas, U.S. Government agency and AESC/ASC employees, military personnel, prime contractors, subcontractors, and vendors. Anyone who has been connected with the AUTODIN project and it's subsequent system replacements are considered by the ACNet Association to be "Autodiners".

In November of 1998, shortly after the WUALP (Western Union AUTODIN Legacy Project) web site was launched, Tony Platt, an original Western Union AUTODIN employee contacted the webmaster of our fledgling site. In his E-mail he referred to the few of us involved with the AUTODIN web at that time as "Autodiners". We quickly adopted the name, and have used it ever since when referring to the men and women who were associated with, or, participated in the project, it's predecessors (COMLOGNET and AFDATACOM), and the project's current successor called DMS (Defense Message System).

Since adopting the "Autodiner" name, we have further honored the AUTODIN system and the personnel who worked in it, by registering the domain name "autodin.net"on The Internet's World Wide Web service !!

In October of 2000 the original WUALP web site was attacked by several viruses in an apparent orchestrated tactic. The content of the online WUALP, and the sister web, ASACS (AUTODIN Saga: A Continuing Story) web were both destroyed along with the automatic backups dating back to August 29, 1999. An older WUALP backup dated August 29, 1999 was recovered and became the basis for re-constructing WUALP and ASACS. Since the backup recovery, both WUALP and the ASACS sites have been mostly restored. Fortunately, ASACS was undergoing a rebuild at the time of the "crash", and being renamed AS for just "AUTODIN Saga". The content was intact in it's new document form maintained by Bob Pollard, AS Editor at the time,    on his computer in Oregon. Both of the original web sites have now been consolidated into a single web, and renamed  "ALP" (AUTODIN Legacy Project) as the "new build" web for the benefit and enjoyment of ALL Autodiners. The reconstruction process is still a "work in  progress" and will continue so for sometime into the future.

Once the reconstruction is completed, ongoing maintenance and expansion will continue into the future, hopefully covering the DMS in more detail. Meanwhile ALP expansion and the posting of new content continues in parallel with the re-build. DMS,and remaining DTH Center Autodiners are invited to begin submitting content for the ALP expansion.

So, if you are reading this page, and fit the profile above, then we say " welcome to the world of the Autodiners", and welcome to any interested user who may pass through this portal, be they friend, or be they foe of the Autodiners at large!

Enjoy!

A summary history of the people that made "the little blue engine go", the Autodiners ... by Don Holtzclaw

My response as an example to Part 1 of the Index below ...

AUTODIN began for a group of four Western Union technicians in Cincinnati, Ohio about late Summer of 1061. During 1961, rumors began circulating through Western Union, at least in the Cincinnati office, about a mysterious system called COMLOGNET. I was working as a Test and Regulation (T&R) (AutoTech) technician in Western Union's commercial Reperforator Switching Center (Plan 21 for processing Telegrams and the like), in Cincinnati, Ohio.

One section of the 'Reperf' center was called "Locals" where local telegram and facsimile message traffic originating in the Cincinnati area, and being delivered to customers from other parts of the world in the same area, were processed. One day during that period, we noticed a new piece of equipment addition to Locals. It was a  small "funny looking" terminal  sitting off in the corner, barely noticed by most personnel. There was a hand printed sign laying on the keyboard that read something like "COMLOGNET - DO NOT TOUCH!". A mystery indeed! No one knew what a "COMLOGNET" was, or would "talk about it". So no one, as far as I know,  touched, or went near the small terminal throughout 1961. Later, I heard that COMLOGNET stood for "Combat Logistics Network". Very sinister!

Towards the end of 1961 bids went up on the Cincinnati office's union bulletin board for positions as "Apprentice Computer Center Technician", at Gentile DESC (Defense Electronic Supply Center, AFB - Named in honor of Don Gentile, an Air Force flying ace during the Korean conflict) in Dayton, Ohio, for a system called AUTODIN. The COMLOGNET Terminal had also disappeared about the same time. The Bids called for 24 applicants.

The applicants had to hold a second class FCC Radiotelephone (R/T) license to qualify for the position. The company planned to provide the FCC License qualifying training for the successful bidders who did not already hold an FCC ticket. For some reason (unrecalled by me), myself and Walter Schmoll, another Cincinnati T&R technician, had studied for and received our 2nd class FCC tickets. A third technician, Ralph Neville, had been a former Microwave maintainer and already had an FCC ticket. About the same time, I was scheduled to be sent to Chattanooga (Western Union's Training and manufacturing facility in Tennessee) on the new Telex system. Walt and I, along with two more T&R techs, Jim Hobbs (the only one of the four who did not yet hold an FCC ticket) and Ralph Neville, all submitted our bids for the AUTODIN jobs not fully understanding what the jobs entailed. I figured if I got one of the positions, and things didn't go right, I only had about 50 miles between the AUTODIN assignment in Dayton, Ohio and my home in Northern Kentucky. So, I felt I had a built-in safety net. This all occurred just before I left for the Telex School in Chattanooga.

All three of my T&R co-workers had seniority on me, and all three eventually got on the list of 24 applicants (successful bidders). Before I left for school I was told that I was 80th on a very long list in the Western Union Lake Division for just 24 openings. I had no hope at all for winning a seat in the new system. While taking the three week Telex course in Chattanooga, I received a long distance phone call from Ed Habel, a Cincinnati area field engineer at that time. Ed told me that I had made it to position 24 (bottom of the heap) on the AUTODIN Gentile list. I was the last bidder to be posted. I had made it! For what, I wasn't sure of - something about computers and computer systems.

Soon after I returned to Cincinnati from Chattanooga, I was  advised by Ed Habel to get a 1st class FCC ticket, as I had been selected to teach the Gentile group of apprentice AUTODIN computer center techs a radio and transmission course in preparation for them to obtain their 2nd class R/T FCC Ticket. I studied again for the 1st class, and took the additional 50 question exam. I passed. Ed moved me down to the area Engineers office where I prepared the five week course.

Nineteen apprentice technicians attended the class held in the hotel Metropole in Cincinnati. After that class was completed, all 24 of us attended Modem and Technical Control school at the hotel Gibson, also in Cincinnati. Once that class was completed, we were all sent off to the RCA Institute in Cherry Hill, a suburb of Camden, New Jersey, for a 4 month accelerated course on digital computer basics and ancillary equipment. The first day in class, is where our Gentile group learned that " ... Western Union had dredged the bottom of the barrel - and that we probably would not make it as computer technicians!". A very astute and observant instructor, that fellow! I wonder to this day, how many of the 24 technicians attending that class remember that statement by John D. ?? I have never forgotten it!

After "graduating" the Gentile class, we were assigned to our AESC. Ours, of course, was Gentile DESC (Defense Electronics Supply Center) in Dayton, Ohio. Some of us were sent on temporary detail (I was sent to Andrews AFB for about 2 to 3 months), as the Gentile AUTODIN Switch was not ready for a full complement of 24 technicians. Finally in Late October, or early November of 1962, all 24 technicians, myself included, converged on Gentile, along with many WU supervisors, Engineers, RCA computer system types, and other subcontractors.

All of us were "off and running" in our new careers as Computer Technicians!

The "People" side of AUTODIN begins
as told and recorded through the eyes and ears of the Autodiners themselves ...

This is where the story of the people we now refer to as "Autodiners" begins. AUTODIN had become a reality ...

To be continued ... April 2, 2001

Index to the Autodiner's history by site

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Revised: October 14, 2001