be performed? At the GE Computer Department Reunion
Francisco, October 10, 2006)
Western Drama in three Acts
The Protagonists: GE & IBM
Author, Playwright & Director: George Snively
Buck Rogers IBM Western Region Mgr..
Doc Gale Cleven VP IT Hughes Aircraft
George Snively, Mgr. Sales Financing GE
Don Benscotter, VP Mrkt. Lease Financing Corp.
Hughes Security Guard
Hughes Security Guard
Old Codger (Cleven’s coffee buddy).
Narrator - Ken Fisher
Tables (one to be used as desk)
Telephones (not connected)
Security guard caps
Tent signs: “Doc. Gale
“Hughes Aircraft Cafeteria”
Small “sandwich board” signs for the actors –except the
ACT I Scene
The curtain opens showing a table labeled “Hughes Aircraft
is a man (with a small sandwich board labeled “Old Codger”) sitting
there with a cup of coffee.
The Hughes Aircraft Company had long been a bastion of the IBM
Company and was totally “Big Blue”.
Paul Shapiro doggedly called on them but could never get passed the
receptionist – until Hughes hired a non-IBMer, Doc. Gale Cleven, as VP
of IT. Paul was
able to get an appointment with Doc and brought in the 600 team to make a
Cleven was impressed and decided to give GE a chance.
looking in on Hughes Aircraft’s cafeteria where an old codger is sipping
a cup of coffee. (As an
aside: Doc wanted to attend this reunion but recently had a brain tumor
removed and didn’t feel quite up to the trip.)
Doc Cleven holding a cup of
coffee ENTERs stage left.
He spots the Old Codger.
“Hello. Do you mind if I
sit with you?”
“Not at all. Have a seat”
Cleven sits opposite the Old Codger.
“You’re new around here aren’t you?”
the new VP of IT.”
“ Yes. I was
hired to get the computer costs under control.”
“How’s it going?”
“Well. So far
I’ve sent enough equipment back to IBM to reduce the monthly rental from
$12 to $9 million.”
“Yes. But it
hasn’t made IBM very happy with me.” “See you around”
Cleven gets up and leaves.
ACT I Scene
This scene takes place several
days later. Still in the cafeteria.
holding a cup of coffee,
ENTERs stage left. He
spots the Old Codger and goes to sit with him.
“How are things today?”
“IBM is giving me fits”
“We currently have two IBM 7094’s that need replacing.
I’m planning to replace one of them with an IBM 360 and the other
with a GE 600.” After
operating them for 24 months I’ll then decide whether to go all IBM or
is having a fit about my soliciting proposals from GE.
They have proposed not charging rent on the 7094’s
during the estimated three months to get the 360’s up and
running. This is
about $90,000 per 7094. Of
course the rent will continue on the one being replaced with a GE 600 –
putting GE at a $90,000 disadvantage.
I can’t eat that $90,000 difference.”
“What does GE say?”
“GE has come up with a very creative way to equal IBM’s $90,000
savings through a sale and leaseback of one of the 7094’s.”
“It is, except that IBM is refusing to let us assign our purchase
option to the leasing company- even though they let their other customers
I’d better get back to work.
Have a good day.”
Doc Cleven LEAVES and goes to his office – the
desk in the center of the stage.
ACT I Scene Three
Stage right, shows two people
sitting at separate tables (or just on chairs) talking on telephones:
We are eavesdropping on a conversation between Don Benscotter of
Lease Financing Corporation and GE’s Manager of Sales Financing –
George Snively. Let’s
listen as George is talking.
“Don, as you are aware, Hughes’
Doc Cleven has set up a two year contest between us and IBM. We would like to pitch one of your seven-year
leases to him – but he is trying to be scrupulously fair in setting up
I have an idea. We would be amenable to selling the 600 system with an
option to return it after 24 months and treat it as if it had been rented
if we lose the contest.
you handle it as an early termination in a seven-year net lease?
“I’m sure that we can but I’ll check with our people and have
them run the numbers.’
you think that you could get the word to Cleven that we might be amenable
to such a transaction? We
don’t want to appear to be trying to avoid the 24-month contest.”
“As you may know, following the IBM 7094 deal where we finally
forced IBM to assign us the purchase
option, I’ve been working with Hughes’ Treasurer and Pat Hyland, the
President to finance several other important transactions for Hughes.
I’ve completed the financing for the purchase
and lease of their Malibu Research building, and I’m meeting with them
tomorrow in LA on another deal they want us to do.
I’ve been planning on dropping in to see Cleven when I’m there.
Not only will I get your proposal to him, but also I think I can
make him think it’s his idea.
I’ll remind him that the other week we kicked around various
ideas on how he might get the investment tax credit.
He’s intrigued by your term “diamond dollars” and keeps
asking how he can get some of them.”
This is one way he can get them.
Sounds good to me.
ACT II Scene One
This act takes
place in Doc Cleven’s office.
We look in on Doc Cleven in his office while he’s on the phone
with George Snively.
George, I want you to catch the next plane and get over here.
I’ve got something to discuss with you.
tomorrow will be soon enough if you can’t make it today..
I’ll pick you up at the airport and we’ll go to lunch.
I’m buying as I’m selling you.
ACT II Scene Two
Time flies and we look into Doc Cleven’s office the next day.
Snively enters stage right and sits down at Cleven’s desk.
Ok what’s the urgency and why all the mystery?
I want you to sell the GE 600 system to Lease Financing with an
option to rent.
the GE equipment is not selected at the end of the 24 months you will
refund the purchase price and charge them the 24 months rent.
Hughes will get the investment tax credit and if we keep the
equipment we will have the advantage of the much lower seven-year lease
rate. GE will have the
use of the cash for two years and save the personal property tax.
It’s a win-win for all three of us.
Where do you get these crazy ideas?
I’m not sure it makes sense but I’ll go back to Phoenix and put
a pencil to it.
You don’t need to. I’ve
already talked to Don Benscotter about it and he has run the numbers.
Your job is to go back to Phoenix and convince Vern Cooper to take
the deal. If he
doesn’t, he’s dumber than I think he is.
ACT III Scene One
This act takes
place back in the cafeteria where the Old Codger is sitting.
Cleven holding a
cup of coffee,
ENTERs stage right (from his desk).
Sits down across from the Old Codger.
your day going?”
“Buck Rogers, IBM’s Regional Manager, has heard a rumor that we
might be signing a long-term lease on the GE system and he’s madder than
a wet hen. He’s
insisting that he meet with my boss and me immediately.
He’s insinuating all kinds of things like bribery and is
threatening to get me fired.”
“Let me introduce myself.
(Turns the sandwich board
with the name “Old Codger” around to the side that says, “Howard
Hall – Attorney”) My
name is Howard Hall. I’m
Howard Hughes’ personal attorney and I’ve been keeping detailed notes
of our conversations and believe that we have a cause of action against
IBM for their statements and actions.
In anticipation of
such a show down, I’ve prepared instructions for you.”
Cleven a piece of paper.
These are instructions to follow if Mr. Rogers is abusive and
threatens your job..
Cleven returns to his office.
Buck Rogers: “My
sources tell me that you are planning to sign a long term lease on the GE
junk. You know
that they don’t know anything about building computers and certainly
can’t provide the software that Hughes Aircraft needs.
Only IBM can service your needs.
If you persist in this foolishness, we’ll have to let Howard
Hughes know of your incompetence and that you have been taking bribes from
Lease Financing. We’ll have your job.”
Cleven picks up the phone and dials a number.
happened to your plan for conducting a fair 24 month contest?
We went along with the crazy idea because you assured us that you
would conduct it fairly.”
Security Guards rush in from the back of the room while Rodgers is
Cleven : “Please escort Mr. Rogers off of Hughes Aircraft property.”
Security guards gently, but
firmly, pick up Buck Rogers and carry him out of the room.
BR: As he’s being carried out. “You
can’t do this to me. I’ll
see that Mr. Watson calls Howard Hughes.
You’ll regret this.”
Hughes Aircraft subsequently ordered TWO
GE 600 systems which, Doc.
Cleven recently advised, remained in service for 8 to 10 years.
ends another chapter in the fascinating saga of the Computer Department.