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Communicators AND Others Enjoying Retirement

A History of the ATS

ATS History
Part II of II
By Will Naeher - DASC Retired

Shielded Enclosure

Most electrical and electronic equipment radiates data which reveals the information being processed. This information can be intercepted with sophisticated equipment which can be located some distance away. Techniques can be applied to reduce this radiation. The program designed to this effort is called TEMPEST. The ATS contract stipulated that the ATS system must meet the TEMPEST Standards as promulgated by the National Security Agency. Much of the equipment in the ATS system had to be modified to met these standards. To make certain that the equipment did not emit data, it was enclosed in a large shielded enclosure. This was constructed using a system of interlocking fingers on doors, which ensures the integrity of the enclosure when entering, similar to a submarine. The enclosure was constructed of large sections of steel laminated on both sides of plywood and connected together with strips of metal to prevent signal leakage. Any penetration of the enclosure, such as electrical wiring, air conditioning, communications circuits, had to transit wave guides, filters, and approved isolators. At the time of the installation of the ATS system, the enclosure was the largest in the world; well over 15,000 square feet.

An interesting arrangement of copper "fingers" to ensure an electrical bond, was installed on the doors to permit opening and closing and to maintain the integrity of the enclosure.

Even though al of the equipment used in the ATS met TEMPEST standards, it was still installed in the enclosure. A "false floor" was installed to permit the passage of air conditioning under the equipment and to permit electrical circuits and signal lines to be installed. These lines were installed in non-ferrous conduit to prevent any cross radiation from one circuit to another.

These electrical circuits became a source of problems. After they were installed, it was discovered that all the sections of the conduit were connected with ferrous metal connectors. This of course affected the TEMPEST integrity of the conduit. The conduit had to be replaced at great expense to the contractor.

Some years later, when the electrical circuits and signal lines had to be replaced, the contractor doing the job was very confused about the number of pipes running under the floor. It only made sense to him when he was told of the previous situation.


There is always a danger in writing an article like this that some major contributor may be overlooked. This is particularly so when you are composing from memory. I am sure that this has happened. I apologize if this is so and would welcome any corrections or any memory refresh. If you will let me know of this, I will issue a corrected version so that the CANDOER ATS article may be as accurate as possible.

Many people were involved both in the Department and in the commercial companies in the development of the ATS. Some events and people that come to mind are listed below:

ITT Personnel Team

Herb Dimmick - Vice President of Marketing. Herb came into the ATS late in the program, after cut over. I guess his role was to placate and upset customer. At that time, the system had many cogent deficiencies and other areas of non-responsiveness to the contract. As the Technical Representative for the Contracting Officer, it was my responsibility to ensure contract responsiveness and insist that the system complied with the specification in every respect.

As time went on, we would negotiate change orders to correct an oversight in the system design. These change orders were negotiated with the understanding that they would have no affect on the cut over or system acceptance. A date was mutually agreed upon as to the system cut over and what the liquidated damages were, in the event of late delivery of the system. At this time, these damages were at about $250,000. Herb tried to negotiate this. At one meeting, Herb stated that ITT did not want anymore of the Department's business until the system was accepted. I called Jerry Jacaruso, chief of the circuit procurement section and, in Herb's presence, I told Jerry to cancel all the circuits leased from ITT WorldCom and transfer them to RCA. Jerry asked if I was kidding and I said yes. Herb did know this, of course. After reasonable heads prevailed, we agreed that negotiated change orders would continue. Later Herb and I became very close friends.

Ernie Field - Supervisor of Maintenance. Ernie was a skilled supervisor and ran a very close shop. Normally, in computer situations, it is difficult to determine whether the problem is hardware or software. Ernie was respected by the programmers and was skilled at locating the problem. He later left ITT and went to work for CDC. This company subsequently received a contract from the Department to install an automated switching system in Bonn, Germany (BAX). After Ernie left the ATS, Howie Simmons, who was one of the maintenance staff, replaced him.

Herb Chalmers - Chief of the ITT on-site team. Herb left to start his own company to build computers. Herb died later from a brain tumor.

Carl Townsend was Chief of Maintenance when I retired. Carl is now retired and lives in St Augustine, FL.

Bill Norton - An excellent maintenance man. He left ITT and went to work with XEROX Corporation where he contributed to the success of the ARCS.

Ron Nivella - Manager of Product Support. He visited the site regularly, after cut over. He later became Vice President of ITT Field Services and moved to Brussels.

Denis Combs - An ITT computer engineer. Before the ATS, Denis was a maintenance supervisor. Denis was assigned to Paris when ITT got the contract to put in a computerized switch. As I understand it, the Department contracted with a British subsidiary of ITT to install a switch in the relay station at the Paris Embassy. This switch was connected to a number of the U.S. Embassies in the former French Colonies in Africa. The British company defaulted and ITT of N.J. took over the project. It was a very small switch, using and ADX 7300 (Automated Data eXchange) similar to the ADX 7300 used in the ATS. Subsequently, the maintenance contract for this switch was put out for competition and some of the on-site maintenance men submitted a bid and won the contract. The problem was, they did not have a source of parts and other support infrastructure, so the equipment was neglected and eventually shut down. Denis was not one of those who bid on the contract, so he returned to ITT in N.J. His knowledge of the diplomatic switching problems stood him in good stead. He made a major contribution to the ATS development.

ITT Programming Team

The team was comprised of programmers who had worked on the SACDIN programs. They were experienced in ACP protocol programming. There were a number of them, but the ones who come to mind as being prominent in the development of the ATS were:

Bernie Weinstein - He was a very intense guy and was serious about his work. When he had a problem he stayed with it for many hours, until it was solved. He had his own company that maintained other switches for ITT. He was under contract by ITT to support the ATS. Bernie was a major contributor to the ATS success.

Marvin Frishman - Marv was dedicated to the ATS and was impressed with the importance of that Center working properly. Marv did an outstanding job in training the State programmers.

John Bordi and Howie Shu were also members of the ITT team. There were others who worked on a particular problem and then left for other systems. The ITT programmers were required by contract specifications to train the Department personnel in at least two programs. In this, they also did an excellent job.

Member of the Department's programming team were:

Jim Hawk - who died in a tragic auto accident in rural Pennsylvania, shortly after system cut-over.

John Garland- who was proselyted by ITT shortly after cut-over.

Ray Wolf who became the Programming Section Chief. Ray was a very intense and private guy. He was extremely competent and alert. On one occasion, while Ray was working a Sunday to try to find out what the problem was with the PDP 15 computers that ITT installed to replace the ADX, he noted that he was feeling a little warm and got a floor puller to pull up one of the sections of the raised floor. A rush of cold air came out. It was then he realized that the computer equipment had fans installed to bring the air downward through the equipment. ITT had forgotten that the cold air was in a plenum under the floor, not in the ceiling. The fans were reversed and the problem Ray was chasing for several weeks disappeared. After a long illness, which Ray would not discuss with anyone, he retired from State. He was sorely missed.

Jim Meador worked the off-line, Journaling and RACE sub-system programs.

Bob Berger, Barry Aiken, Edna Gonsky, and Jim Beard completed the excellent team, whose intelligence, work ethics, and technical skills contributed to the success of the ATS, and subsequent replacement systems, for years to come.


One of the requirements was that the ATS hardware comply with the TEMPEST Standards on space radiation as promulgated by NSA. Dick Rapier, a State Department communicator, was an expert in this field. He worked with the ITT engineers in running exhaustive tests at the plant. When something was discovered that radiated, Dick helped to eliminate the source. As a result, the ATS was very clean, radiation wise. Even so, the system was installed in a shielded enclosure.

Tom Husky and Dale De Vaughn were Communications Engineers and maintenance men. Dale was skilled in the design of technical controls. Tom was cryptographic equipment expert. Both were members of the Department's contractor evaluations team and were involved in the development of the final specification.

Jack Hulbert - Jack came from GSA, after a period of time with NSA. He was a Communications Security expert. He had been a Communications Officer in the Navy. When he came to the State Department, he was assigned to Operations. He was involved in the various states of the development of the proposals. He was a member of the proposal evaluation and negotiation team. After the contract was awarded, Jack became the Contracting Officers Representative for the Site Construction Contract. This involved many intricate security features such as power and signal line isolation and the design of a very large TEMPEST proof shielded enclosure.

Will Naeher - Came to the Department from CIA, via GSA, where he worked with Jack Hulbert. His experience was in Communications Center Operations and Communications Security. He was ultimately assigned as Chief of the Department's Communications Center. Will participated in the development of the various proposals. He was a member of the proposal evaluation and contract negotiation teams. He was assigned as the Contracting Officer's Technical Representative for the System contract. After cut-over, Will continued as Chief of the Communications Center.

Bob McConahy - Bob was in COMSEC and contributed to many of the features in the proposal to meet COMSEC standards. Bob later became the Planning Officer for the Office of Communications.

As time went on, representatives of the Department and ITT met in an off-site staff meeting to discuss how the system could be improved to take advantage of the latest technology, which may not have been available at the time the system was designed. This proved to be very useful and was an example of cooperation between industry and government in the development of what was essentially a research and development system.

As I stated at the outset, there may be others who may have overlooked and have faded from my memory. If so, please write to the Editor of the CANDOER, or me, and fill in the blanks.


There were two elements of training, which the contractor was required to perform: (1) system operators and telegram analysts; and, (2) Programmers.

To determine the extent of training required for operator personnel, we formed a committee composed of the section chiefs in the communications center. The name of each of the personnel in the communications center was placed on lists, which designated the extent of the type of training that would be required for each individual. It was determined that as a matter of policy, "on board" personnel would be trained and no new hires would be brought in as a result of the ATS.

We obtained two aptitude tests to test all personnel who volunteered for training as a programmer. The reason for two tests was to have one test confirm the other. The contract required that the contractor train State personnel as programmers, to preclude the necessity for the Office of Communications having to contract for any outside program maintenance. This was done in house. Each Office of Communications' programmer was to be trained in two areas of the program. As a result, each programmer was proficient in other areas of the program so that if any programmer was unavailable another programmer knew how to maintain his/her program areas. This also prevented any programmer from being indispensable.

After the test, ten candidates were selected. Half way through the training, five candidates were selected to complete the training. The following personnel passed the test and subsequent training: Ray Wolf, who became the Chief of the Programming Section; Jim Meador, John Garland, Jim Hawk, and Robert Ramsey.

The programmer training program was very successful and cost effective. The ITT programmers, Bernie Weinstein and Marvin Frishman, did an outstanding job. ITT programmers remained associated with the ATS as contract change orders were negotiated that required new programs or major changes to the present system. John Bordi was also an ITT programmer. He became associated with other ITT contracts and did not remain with the ATS.

The operator training was also very successful. To determine the extent of training for each individual, we established a grid chart with each operator's name. The chart indicated the extend of training that would be required for each individual in each section of the new communications center so that a minimum of new skills would have to be taught. I learned later that the personnel on the evening shift, who had access to the charts, became concerned about the color coding and number system and what it meant to them. When I learned of this, I met with all shifts and explained to them what was happening. Many times you get engrossed in a problem and forget to clue in the personnel who are being affected.

A lesson well learned.

The Office of Communications' programmers did an outstanding job in dealing with a very complicated system and with bringing it to its final and successful operation. This was as a direct result of the training and assistance rendered by Messrs Marvin Frishman, Bernie Weinstein and numerous other members of the ATS team.

Automated Reproduction and Collating System (ARCS)

In spite of the state-of-the-art concepts and equipment of the ATS, processing of telegrams was delayed in the manual labor intensive procedures of reproduction. Telegrams arrived in the Reproduction Section minutes after being received in the ATS. However, on a high volume traffic day, they languished in Reproduction for many hours. On Thursday and Friday, it was unlikely that a "routine" precedence telegram would be delivered before close of business. We were transmitting messages around the world at the speed of light and delivering them on a bicycle. The incongruity of this delay in writer to reader cycle was painfully apparent. Something had to be done. It was a classic case of a problem in search of technology. But, none of the then available technologies offered cost effective solutions.

In the late 1960's, the Department sought a solution to its reproduction bottleneck. Working with several other federal agencies, an attempt was made to define the general requirements. The technology available at that time, to solve our problem, was expensive. One by one, other agencies withdrew from the search. As they did so, the cost to the Department of State became prohibitive.

However, at the continued urging of the Department, XEROX Corporation continued its search for alternative solutions that would be cost effective. Finally, in 1974, the Research and Development staff of XEROX Electro-Optical Systems Division demonstrated a bread board model that had successfully married laser and computer technologies with existing printing and collating equipment. They demonstrated the feasibility of this approach and negotiations were begun.

The Manual System

To fully appreciate the ARCS, we should first review the manual system which it replaced and the requirements which were met by the new system. Before the ARCS, the reproduction and collating of messages was accomplished pretty much by brute force. Messages from the ATS were routed to skilled analysts, who used CRT terminals to edit and analyze the messages and to provide routing and distribution instructions. Once cleared by the analysts, the message was transmitted over communications lines to Data Products 2910 printers in the reproduction area, which prepared off-set masters. The message was then sent though a control clerk to one of nine Addressograph Multilith 2650 off-set presses for the preparation of an approximate number of copies as indicated by the Analyst. Because not all copies may be of acceptable quality, the press operator would produce more copies than are needed to obtain the required number of copies. Even so, the last few copies of a large run may be marginal. Unused copies were subsequently destroyed.

The messages were then given to people who checked the copies against the distribution list, collated them, stapled the copies into message sets by destination, and checked them against a control sheet. Multiple page messages were collated on a multiple page collator, which fed the assembled message into a stapler. The messages were then placed in the appropriate distribution bin, to be sent via pneumatic tubes to their ultimate destinations.

System Requirements and Objectives

At the time of the development of the ATS, the communications center handled about 4,500 terminal messages a day. However, this resulted in an average of about 750,000 pieces of paper per week, not including overrun copies. To avoid expensive short term development costs, we asked that the system be able to sustain a significant growth over the next eight years. The system was to be transparent to the ATS and be TEMPEST approved. The system must be able to print and sort messages in order of precedence and place collated and stapled messages in the proper destination bins. Printing of incoming telegrams would have precedence over outgoing messages and be able to distribute into 150 destination bins. The system was to be available 24-hours-a-day, seven days per week.

The front end of the system consisted of a master controller, which included two minicomputers, each with its own disc storage device. One of the computers was used as a backup device. It had to received all of the messages from the ATS that its partner did. The data was erased from both discs as each message was processed and reproduced. This was possible because the ATS had full storage and retrieval capability.

Each dual computer master controller, controlled a slave subsystem, which in turn controlled two print stations. Each slave system had a character generator, which electronically scanned the image of an entire page in a matter of milliseconds. Once the image for a page had been created, the message was transmitted to one of two XEROX printer/duplicators. The copies were then sent to a 50 bin sorter. The final ARCS configuration included two master controllers, for redundancy, and four slave subsystems, which supported seven printer and collating stations. The master controller was capable of directing up to 10 slave systems, controlling 20 printer/sorter stations.

The disc capacity of the master controller allowed us to store approximately 500 messages, averaging 1 pages each. It was designed so additional storage could be added. The type font was created through software instructions that spelled out the page density and patterns for each page, as it was created electronically. This versatility permitted the reproduction of about 70% of all messages on one page. If the message was two pages, a new compact font called "two-up" printing was used automatically, which permitted printing a two-page message on one side of a sheet of paper. To eliminate the need for an in-line stapling machine another smaller font was developed that allowed for longer telegrams to be printed "four-up" in a two column format. Later the capability to print on both sides of the paper was added.

The ARCS computer also checked the distribution designations and underlined the indicators for each bin, as the massage was printed and distributed. Messages were noted as Incoming or Outgoing. In addition to the heading, hash marks were placed down the right hand side of all outgoing messages to give immediate indication that this was an outgoing message. The action copy was also clearly indicated. A special hash mark was used on the top of the first page of each message set destined for the same office. Thus the end user could riffle though the pages and see at a glance where the new message set began. The precedence was clearly marked. A special visual sound alarm, on the controller of the sorter, alerted the operator when a FLASH message had been processed. These alarms continued until the message was removed from the distribution bin.

Negotiations were difficult. I was reassigned to the Deputy Assistant's position and Stu Branch became the Chief of the Communications Center, and later, the Contracting Officer's Technical Representative. XEOS finally gave us a ball park figure + or - 10%. This priced the system at about $3 million. I went to Congress to request funds. One Congressman asked me to provide the figures and how we "could do the job another way." We extrapolated a cost using offset presses meeting the capacity of the ARCS. The funds were granted. We needed the system urgently, but XEOS was reluctant. I knew they needed our contract in order to put them into the laser printer business in a visible way. Finally, at my urging, John Thomas, then Assistant Secretary for Administration, called the President of XEOS to advise him that he was sending his representatives to meet with him, with full authority to obligate the Department and he wanted XEOS to have personnel with similar authority to meet with them. We departed for Pasadena, California, with the Department's Contracting Officer, Jerry John (Editors note: Jerry is a member in good standing of the CANDOERs.)

After an all day meeting to scrub through the contract, I asked for an adjournment for the day. They wanted to know what our price was. I said I would give them a nonnegotiable price and showed them a copy of my testimony at the Congressional budget hearing. I told them that if it was not acceptable, it would be necessary for me to return to Congress and ask for more money. The hazard in that was, Congress could deny the request. Another problem was, the next budget cycle was nearly 18 months away.

After over night agonizing, they asked that we come back after lunch. Denton Allen, XEOS Project Chief, had a home with a pool, so we went to his house to relax and to have a catered lunch. At about 2:00 p.m., the phone rang and we were told that the XEOS personnel were now ready to meet. After more discussion, until dinner time, I told them we had reservations on the "red eye" back to Washington for that night. We went to dinner and the XEOS President asked me to meet with him privately. He told me that they had no experience with TEMPEST standards and were not familiar with ACP 127 protocols. I told him that if we went to contract, I would send a TEMPEST expert to work with his engineers and, since lasers were involved, I was confident that the system would meet the standards. I also said I would send a programmer to reside in their company, to assist them in the programming problems. This was acceptable to him and we were in contract.

Jerry John told me later that it was the weirdest negotiating session he ever attended. The success of the contract was largely attributed to Denton Allen, who made many frustrating trips in shuttle negotiating to Washington, with various offers. He became the ARCS XEOS program manager.

On one occasion, when we went to XEOS for demonstrations of the system, we discovered that one of their maintenance men was Bill Norton, who had been one of the ITT maintenance men on the ATS. I knew then that the ARCS was in good hands. Bill was well experienced with the Department's communications center and the ATS, and I knew that he would be a great asset to XEOS. Later Bill was assigned to the Department, where he headed up the XEOS maintenance crew.

This was truly pioneering at the edge of technology. The system was very successful and met all elements of the contract specifications.

The system required the Department to change many ways on how they dealt with telegrams. For example, it was no longer possible to distinguish outgoing telegrams from incoming telegrams by the color of the paper. This gave some people, in the Bureaus, a problem and I received many complaints. I told them that the outgoing telegram logo included the word "Outgoing" in bold letters at the top of the telegram. If they missed that, the next clue was in the preamble which said "From the Department of State." If they missed that, all outgoing telegrams contained the name of the Secretary of State at the end. If these clues were not satisfactory, I didn't think color would matter.

I also received complaints about telegrams being printed in columns. Whenever I received such complaints, I would cut portions of the Wall Street Journal or Time Magazine out and attach them to the reply, which in essence said, "if you can read your magazines or newspaper in columns, I did not understand why you could not read telegrams in that mode." I received full support from my boss. Soon the complaints stopped.

Later, the system was accepted by most of the Executive Agencies, including CIA, Army, Navy, and Air Force. In addition, the Department installed the system in several Embassies (the systems were called EMBARCS). Within the Department, several systems were installed in the Bureau message centers (the systems were called REARCS).

Traffic Research Section

After the ATS was activated, it occurred to me that we did a good job of servicing for missing telegrams or garbled telegrams between communications centers, but we had no mechanism for dealing with problems between the communications center and its customers. If someone had a problem, they would call a friend in the communications center and their problem was handled.

I established a "Traffic Research Section," under the supervision of Bill Callihan. When someone called their friend for help, they were instructed to take the information about the problem and then turn it over to the Traffic Research Section, who called the complainant for more information. If they had the answer to the callers problem, they would provide it to the caller and request that they call the Traffic Research Section, if they had any future problems. Soon, all problem calls were coming to this section. This worked very well and improved the service to our customers.

However, after examining the logs kept by Bill and his staff, we noticed that some bureaus were calling for an inordinate number of "no receipt" complaints. We assigned a Traffic Research staffer to the bureau's message center to try to find out what was happening. Almost immediately the complaints stopped.

As we suspected, bureaus would get a specified number of copies for each telegram. Sometimes the Bureau would need more copies and instead of reproducing the copies from their own machines, they would call Traffic Research for extra copies.

We sent a note to the bureau executive officers complaining that their message center personnel were using the communications center as a reproduction service. This put extra stress on the system and added to the normal processing times of traffic.

The Traffic Research Center was very successful under the leadership of Bill Callihan, Walt Abbott, and Dorothy Botts.

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