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Launching CSM in 1983

The 1983 Software Maintenance Workshop

Some history of how it was created

Nicholas Zvegintzov

The 1983 Software Maintenance Workshop was created more or less single-handedly by Norman F. Schneidewind, then and for a long time a Professor of Computer Science at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, California.

Schneidewind had the concept of such a Workshop (both the necessity and the content of it), he got authorization for it from IEEE Computer Society, secured a venue at NPS, gathered people to work on it and to contribute to it from his considerable network of contacts, and managed them through it with tenacity, vision, tact, and good humor.  He had unique resources at a unique moment – having a vision of the problem and a network of contacts in academia, industry, military, and Computer Society.

The Workshop took place at NPS December 6-8, 1983.  It was a financial and an intellectual success.  And it was the root of all the CSM’s (Conference on Software Maintenance), ICSM’s (International), and ICSME (Evolution) that followed and still flourish.

I don’t know when he first began to think of it and work on it.  I first heard of his plans in June 1982.

Here is the cover page of a 12 December 1982 ‘STATUS REPORT ON SOFTWARE MAINTENANCE WORKSHOP 1’ of 6 pages which already outlines a format, topics, potential sponsors, an organizing plan, and a list of recruited supporters.

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Here is page 1 of A REQUEST FOR COMPUTER SOCIETY SPONSORSHIP OF A TECHNICAL MEETING, dated 1983 January 25:

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Here is page 3 of the same REQUEST, showing the topic and the justification:

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By 1982 I was a software consultant fired up with software maintenance, and after hearing about the Workshop I met Schneidewind in Monterey in January or February 1982.  With characteristically opportunistic vision he offered me the position of Publicity Chair, and we immediately began to discuss and plan mailing pieces, mailing lists, and outreach to contributors, vendors, and attendees.

I must have done at least an adequate job (ably supported by the IEEE Computer Society)...  Though I must admit that from time to time Schneidewind had to handle some of my ideas with the vision, tact, and good humor mentioned above.

This is the Call For Papers, which must have gone out in March 1983:

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The Call for Papers mailing piece is not dated, but here 1983SMWCallPressRelease1.jpg and 1983SMWCallPressRelease2.jpg is the CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS sent to trade and academic journals on 1983 March 24:


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Here are a couple more items that illustrate the myriad of issues that came up in organizing the Workshop.

The first is a Computerworld cartoon that Schneidewind forwarded on 1983 April 14 as a possible publicity item.  It illustrates incidentally the interest that software maintenance began to generate in the industry generally at that time.

In the end I didn’t use the cartoon, partly not knowing what to do with copyright issues and partly because of avoiding negative connotations:

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The second is a Schneidewind memo of 1985 May 9 speaks for itself of the tact and good humor that Schneidewind brought to the enterprise:

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This little history doesn’t go into the immense work that went into organizing the Keynotes and the technical sessions – the Military Session, the Swedish Session, the Japanese Session, the Tools Session, and eight more.

But here is the 4-page Advance Program in color, which served as the mailing piece to invite attendance and as the hand-out at the Workshop:


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The time of the Workshop was a time of the rise to consciousness of an interest in software maintenance.

In Fall 1983 the Joint Logistics Commanders’ biennial workshop was themed ‘Post Deployment Software Support’.  William E. Perry of the Quality Assurance Institute was holding his 2nd National Conference on EDP System Maintenance.  In 1983 Consultant J. Cris Miller’s Structured Retrofit maintenance tool was sold to big 8 accounting firm Peat, Marwick for consulting use, and tool-maker Bill Morgan announced a competing Superstructure tool.  Software Renovation Technology was founded to market a static analysis tool originally created at Amdahl.  The first issue of newsletter Software Maintenance News came out.  Guidance on software maintenance was issued by the National Bureau of Standards, co-authored by Roger J. Martin and Wilma M. Osborne (both at the 1983 Workshop and both later Chairs of the Conference on Software Maintenance).

But of all these the 1983 Software Maintenance Workshop was the most enduring, having founded a solid foundation for the research conferences to come.