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Quick History of ALL-IN-1


Digital Equipment Corporation’s (DEC’s) ALL-IN-1 and IBM’s PROFS were the leading email packages during the 1980s and 1990s; here’s a quick summary of the former. We welcome further details on ALL–IN-1′s history–please post as a response to this blog, or feel free to propose a new bulletin or article if you want to write at length.

The line-oriented interface is used to access ALL-IN-1′s main services

As its name implies, ALL-IN-1 encompasses a range of office functions, including:

  • Email
  • Group scheduling & calendaring
  • Directory/address books
  • Word processing
  • Document file system

There were a number of interesting email-related services, such as:

  • Having your email read to you over the phone
  • Automated modem-based integration with external email systems, such as Compuserve

ALL-IN-1 evolved from DEC’s CP/OSS (The Charlotte Package of Office System Services) which first shipped in 1982. Some of the development moved to DEC Park in Reading England around 1983, where the email system for ALL-IN-1 was created.  The first major release out of the UK was ALL-IN-1 V2.0, released around 1984.

In 1992, Digital released TeamLinks for Windows V1, which included support for using ALL-IN-1 as a file server server, but not as a mail server.  To send mail, TeamLinks V1 required Digital’s DEC MAILworks for VMS server (formerly named ALL-IN-1 MAIL Server for VMS).

The email system in ALL-IN-1 was the corporate mail system at Digital for many years until a decision was made around 1997 to start using Microsoft Exchange, making it more difficult to convince customers to stick with ALL-IN-1.

And yes, ALL-IN-1 has the correct capitalization in this bulletin. It was often incorrectly capitalized in the press.

Timeline

  • 1980. John Churin of Digital’s Software Services group in Charlotte, North Carolina, develops and demonstrates a prototype of an easy to customize office system
  • 1982. CP/OSS (The Charlotte Package of Office System Services) ships
  • 1982, June. ALL-IN-1 V1.1 ships to US customers only
  • 1983. ALL-IN-1 V1.2 and V1.3 ships in US.  Mostly bug fixes
  • 1984 ALL-IN-1 V1.4 ships.  Added VMS 4.0 support
  • 1985, summer. ALL-IN-1 V2.0, a major upgraded with a completely rewritten email system.
  • 1986. ALL-IN-1 V2.1 ships with full VAXcluster support
  • 1986. ALL-IN-1 BEV (Basic European Version) V2.0 released and translated into 12 languages.
  • 1987. ALL-IN-1 BEV 2.1 released
  • 1987. ALL-IN-1 2.2 released.  Mainly bug fixes
  • 1988. ALL-IN-1 BEV 2.3 released and translated to 18 languages
  • 1988. ALL-IN-1 V2.3 BIV (Basic International Version) released. A major update, which included multiple select for the first time
  • 1990. ALL-IN-1 V2.4 announced at DECworld in Boston
  • 1990, July. Dataquest estimates that ALL-IN-1 has over 4.2 million daily users
  • 1991. ALL-IN-1 Installed in over 43 countries
  • 1992, September.  TeamLinks for Windows V1.0 release.  It could use ALL-IN-1 as a network file system, but required DEC Mailworks for VMS server to send and receive email
  • 1994, January. TeamLinks 2.0, providing a Windows mail client for ALL-IN-1, is released
  • 1994, June. ALL-IN-1 V3.1 released
  • 1997. Digital is supporting over 1 million Microsoft Exchange seats.  Over 50% of Digital employees using Microsoft Exchange.  Support revenues for ALL-IN-1 remain high, but new customers are sparse
  • 2011. HP still sells ALL-IN-1 Office Server V3.2 for OpenVMS Systems

Bibliography

  • Digital Equipment Corporation. (1995). TeamLinks for Windows User’s Guide (TeamLinks for Windows 2.5 ed.). Maynard, MA, US: Digital Equipment Corporation.
  • Digital Equipment Corporation. (1992). TeamLinks Handbook. US: Digital Equipment Corporation.
  • Redmond, T. (1992). ALL-IN-1 A Technical Odyssey. Digital Press.
  • Redmond, T. (1997). Microsoft Exchange Server V5.0. Digital Press.
  • Redmond, T. (1995). WORKING with TEAMLINKS (Second ed.). Digital Press.

About The Author

David Ouellette worked at Digital from 1980 until 1999.  He was a member of ALL-IN-1 Engineering team in Reading UK from 1983 to 1984, contributing to ALL-IN-1 V2.0.  He also worked on Digital’s PC ALL-IN-1 Mail Server, ALL-IN-1 Mail for MS-DOS and TeamLinks Mail client, which ran on Microsoft Windows.  He has been working with the archiving product Enterprise Vault since it started at Digital in the late 1990’s. He was Technical Director of North America at KVS, and later a product manager for Enterprise Vault at Symantec.  He is now Founder and President of Vault Solutions LLC.

One Comment

  1. Nigel
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 6:40 PM | Permalink

    The big thing about ALL-IN-1 was that as well as offering all the above mentioned out-of-the-box functionality it was highly customisable and was effectively an application development platform. There was an enormous amount of development done by customers, third parties and the Digital Services organisation based on this platform, ranging from relatively trivial visual customisations to full-blown layered applications sold by partner companies.

    From the product engineering point of view, this added a whole extra dimension to its base functionality (for example, a customisation management environment) and to its development, testing and support because engineers always had to consider the thousands of customisations and applications written on top of it.

    Another point to make is that from version 3.2 in 1996 a web interface was developed as an alternative to the VT interface, and over time this was evolved to offer most of the functionality of the VT interface.

    Sadly a big chance was missed with Teamlinks to focus it entirely on ALL-IN-1 as a server rather than presenting the customer with the requirement to have both Office Server AND Mailworks server. However, as with much of what went wrong at Digital, this was more to do with engineering politics than rational product planning!

One Trackback

  1. [...] In the 1980s, as computing burst out of isolated data centers and became part of all modern commerce (except health care and education, which suffer from a number of similar constraints), computer companies offered “all in one” solutions that attempted to keep the customer within the provider’s walls. In fact, Digital Equipment Corporation, the towering success of the era, named one of their products ALL-IN-1. [...]

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