George Snively's 1961 G.E. Frontiers of Progress Skit
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G.E."George" SNIVELY Credit & Collection


Stage Setting - Curtain, with sign 1956, opens on-

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Desert scene with high desks and stools setting among Saguaros. Desks are identified as Cost Accounting, etc. Sub-section managers, with green eyeshades, wander in and take their seats.

Props-      Crutchley - starts counting large stacks of oversized dollar bills

               Hage - gazes into a large crystal ball

               VanWagenen - plays with a large abacus

               Steward - picks up big book with title "How to Write Contracts 
               that No One Can Interpret"

                Snively - stamps orders with big NO stamp

                Peper - with yard stick, measures printed wiring board


    Crutchley - Well, here we are in phoenix.

    Peper -What new business do you think is big enough for GE to get into now?
    We aren't going to make Tubes out here.

    Steward - (looking around) It looks like there's enough room in this desert to grow 
    a pretty big one.


McCombs enters carrying a flatiron

    McCombs - Well, I see you finally made it. Welcome to the Computer Department.


    Managers - (in unison) The what department?

    McCombs - The Computer Department.

    VanW.-What's a computer?

    McCombs - Oh, it's sort of a small turbine with Christmas tree lights - that plays music.

    Steward -They're a kind of fast adding machine.

    Snively - Yeh. The labs have been playing around with computers since about 1918.

    Peper - We're getting this product out of the lab in a hurry aren't we.

    Hage -Well, one thing's certain. It may take General Electric a few years to decide 
    to go into a new business, but once we decide, we're going stay and become the leader.

     Crutchley - We won't have to use one in accounting will we?

     McCombs - No. But we will have to give Van one to play with and pretend we're using it.

     VanW. - What's a computer?

- 1 -

    Hage - (gazing into crystal ball) Well, I guess I'd better dream 
    up along range forecast.

    McCombs -, Better make it cost a lot for a long time or New York won't think it's a business
    worth going after.

    Snively - I just got a Dun and Bradstreet on IBM. They make computers. Maybe 
    we could just buy them out to get a start. 

    VanW. - What! s a computer?

    Crutchley - I think IBM, would cost too much for Lasher to approve. We'd have to get 
    Board of Directors' approval.

    Steward - That would be too much trouble.

    Peper - When's everyone coming so we can get started?

    Crutchley - They'll be here in about a month. We're starting off on the right foot. No first 
    class or air travel. We authorized covered wagons at: 4 cents a mile.


    Managers - (in unison) Good!

    McCombs -Well, I'll see you in a couple of months .I've got to catch a
    plane for New York.

    Crutchley - First Class?

    McCombs - (exiting) If you plan ahead and wait till the last minute to make 
    your reservations, that's all that's available.

Enter - Frank Moran with sign - "Salesman"

Snively steps front of stage and speaks confidentially to audience -

    This is really Frank Moran, our internal auditor, We couldn't find anyone else
    around here who looked like a salesman.

    Moran - Hi, Cliff. I've got a real big order for your review (empties
    briefcase looking for order).

    Steward - Good - how big?

    Moran - One million and one half dollars!

    Peper - I thought you said big. This is General Electric. Not that
    little business machine company you came from.

    Hage - Don't bother us. We're busy planning big things for the future.

    VanW.- 'What's a computer?

    Moran - But fellows I've got to have financial approval in ten minutes 
    so I can accept the order.

- 2 -


Peper takes a couple of sheets of the contract away from Steward

    Peper - We'll have to have a cost estimate. It'll take a couple of weeks.

Peper walks to door and hollers outside - loudly --

    Put 10 guys to work estimating this thing and give me the answer in 10 minutes.
    So who cares if it takes two weeks. Give me the answer in 10 minutes.

    Steward - The conditions in this contract are wholly unacceptable. We'll have to take at 
    least two weeks to rewrite the whole thing.

    Hage -We can't accept this order. It'll put us over our forecast and we can't 
    have our forecast wrong. 

    Crutchley - Who's the customer?

    Moran -The Peoples First National City Valley Trust Bank. They just merged 
    with the Morgan Chase Guarantee Bank. They're now the second largest in the country.

    Snively - Oh, that one! We can't accept their credit. They didn't have enough 
    money to loan me 100 bucks to go to Las Vegas last month.

Cost estimate is thrown on stage. Peper picks it up and weights it.

    Peper - I've got the cost estimate. It comes out to $3 million.

    Moran - (dejectedly) Re1l.I can't sell it if it's going to cost that much. I'd better 
    tell Sheeley the deal is off,

Moran leaves

    Steward - I guess we settled that in a hurry. Phone rings and Hage answers it 6 %*%**%*,

    Hage -     Hello? Who? Oh, yes Lash, you've talked to Sheeley. According to 
               Cliff the contract will have to be rewritten


                  But, Lash!


                  O.K. Lash. And the cost estimate is $3 million. (Pause)

                  You won't let engineering and manufacturing spend that much? But 
               they say they can't do it for less.


                  Yes, Mr. Lasher. (Pause)

                  You want this order. (Pause)

- 3 -


                  I understand.


                  Yes Sir. 


                   Yes Sir 


                   Goodbye Sir. (Hage hangs up) 

    Hage - (to Peper) That was Mr. Lasher. He says he "wants the order and it's only going to cost one million. Besides - we aren't going to sell it. We'll rent it.

    Peper -Oh - that makes it easy.

Peper  - measures papers with yard stick, throws half away and remeasures. 

    Peper -We've got the cost estimate down to a million dollars.

Moran re-enters.

    Moran - Sheeley told me to get a rental contract. Where do I get a price?

    Snively - If it's set low enough, I won't have to worry about credit, 
a bank should be good for a few thousand a month.

    Hage - Lash suggested $10 000 a month. That gets our money back in ten years if you 
    forget maintenance costs. Moran - Cliff, how about drawing up a rental contract for me?

Steward - That's not in my area. Better see Crutchley.

Moran turns to Crutchley

    Crutchley - Don't look at me. Better see Peper.

Moran turns to Peper 

    Peper -Itls not my responsibility. Better see Hage

Moran turns to Hage 

    Hage - I think Snively knows something about renting and leasing.

Moran turns to Snively 

    Snively - Renting is a very complicated subject (pause) Our standard agreement 
    should be complicated enough.

    But if the customer doesn't like it - have him write up the deal his way.

- 4 - 


    Crutchley - This is a high budget month. Lacy will accept whatever the customer wants anyway.

    Moran -(leaving happily) Gee, thanks fellows.

Curtain closes and reopens on 1961 scene.

McCombs enters waving papers

McCombs - How come operating results look so lousy this month?

    Crutchley - Because we shipped the Peoples First National City Valley Trust bank job.

    Peper -It was rented so we had all the cost and no income.

    McCombs - Didn't we get at least one month's rent?

    Snively - Oh, no. According to the contract they don't start paying rent
until they're completely happy.

    Steward - The only completely happy man I ever saw was in an asylum and he
    didn't have to pay rent.      

    McCombs - Lasher is sure unhappy about these results.

    Hage -Oh!  - He's looking at actual results. That's wrong. He should be looking 
    at results on an if sold basis. Then he'd understand the situation.

    Peper -Our cost estimate was pretty good. It cost three million dollars.

    Crutchley - If we'd sold it at our normal gross margin, sales billed would have 
    been 4-1/2 million. So, with costs of three million, we really made a million and a half.

    Steward - Gee, if we can keep our rental prices a real bargain and our costs high 
    enough, we ought to be able to make this a real good business.

    McCombs - Will you give me those figures. Lash ought to be happy with that.

McCombs leaving - The computer business is sure different from the flatiron business 

    VanW - My wife's got a flatiron.

Curtains close

Curtains open on 1962

Back curtains part revealing back of stage with large computer

    VanWagenen walks to computer and starts pulling out continuous strips of paper. 

    VanW. -(gleefully) I've got a computer!

- 5 -


Moran enters with sheaf ofpapers

Moran - Hi fellows. I've got a half dozen more orders.

    Crutchley - (reading Wall Street Journal) I see IBM's selling at 50.
    It's a good thing we didn't buy them.

    Peper - Van, have you got those cost estimates?

    VanW. - Sure, I've got a computer.

VanW. hands Peper a sheet of paper. Peper measures it with a micrometer. 

     Peper - Our costs sure have come down.

     Steward - No problems with these contracts. We helped write them  
    before the proposals were made.

    Snively - We approved credit right after you told us these customers were prospects. We've had 
    plenty of time to get the information we needed. No problems here.

    Moran -(leaving) Thanks, fellows. Things sure go smoother when I 
    let you know of my problems.

Moran leaves

    Hage -These rental orders sure do pyramid. Even with Van's computer we 
   have trouble revising our forecasts fast enough.

    VanW.- I've got a computer.

Curtain - 1963

McCombs enters in yachting outfit

    McCombs - I'm going out with Lasher on his yacht. If things are going good we'll stay three months
    instead of two. Do you have the latest results?

Crutchley - Here they are. Beginning this month, we're rounding everything off to the nearest million.

    McCombs - (turning to Crutchley) Before I forget it, Wallendorf just called and he needs 
    some money for General Electric to start another new

Crutchley - I'll send him a hundred million right away.

    McCombs - (leaving) When Lash sees these results we'll probably stay six months.
    Don't work too hard.


Managers - (in unison) Not us, we're mechanized.

    VanW. - And I've got a computer!


- 6 -


Pictures from the skit script.

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(To be performed? At the GE Computer Department Reunion

San Francisco, October 10, 2006)


DRAFT rev.5

Shoot-out at Hughes Aircraft


A Western Drama in three Acts


The Protagonists: GE & IBM


             Author, Playwright & Director: George Snively


Character                                 Who                                                                 Played by

The Villain                    Buck Rogers IBM Western Region Mgr..                Vic Casebolt

The Hero                      Doc Gale Cleven VP IT Hughes Aircraft                         Nate Norris

Gunslinger #1               George Snively, Mgr. Sales Financing GE                   Joe McGoldrick

Gunslinger #2               Don Benscotter, VP Mrkt. Lease Financing Corp.   George Snively

Deputy #1                    Hughes Security Guard                                     Warren Prince

Deputy #2                    Hughes Security Guard                                     Bill Peake

Sheriff             Old Codger (Cleven’s coffee buddy).                         George Jacobi


The Narrator - Ken Fisher


Props:              2            Tables (one to be used as desk)

                        6              Chairs

                        2            Coffee cups

3                    Telephones (not connected)

2                    Security guard caps

2               Tent signs: “Doc. Gale Cleven”

         “Hughes Aircraft Cafeteria”

                                    Small “sandwich board” signs for the actors –except the security guards.



ACT I    Scene One


            The curtain opens showing a table labeled “Hughes Aircraft Cafeteria”.    There is a man (with a small sandwich board labeled “Old Codger”) sitting there with a cup of coffee.


Narrator :    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 presentation.     Doc. Cleven was impressed and decided to give GE a chance.

You are 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.    



Doc Cleven: “Hello.  Do you mind if I sit with you?”


OC:   “Not at all.   Have a seat”


Cleven sits opposite the Old Codger.


OC:   “You’re new around here aren’t you?”


DC:    “Yes.   I’m the new VP of IT.”


OC:   “Oh?”


DC:    “ Yes.   I was hired to get the computer costs under control.”


OC:      “How’s it going?”


DC:    “Well.   So far I’ve sent enough equipment back to IBM to reduce the monthly rental from $12 to $9 million.”


OC:    “Sounds good.”


DC:    “Yes.   But it hasn’t made IBM very happy with me.”    “See you around”


Cleven gets up and leaves.  


ACT I    Scene Two


Narrator :    This scene takes place several  days later.    Still in the cafeteria.


Cleven holding a cup of coffee, ENTERs stage left.    He spots the Old Codger and goes to sit with him.


OC:      “How are things today?”


DC:      “IBM is giving me fits”


OC:    “So?”


DC:    “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 all GE.   

IBM 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.”


OC:    “What does GE say?”


DC:    “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.”


OC:    “Good?”


DC:    “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 do it.   

Well, 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:


Narrator :    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.


George Snively:  “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 the contest.           

However, 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.

Could you handle it as an early termination in a seven-year net lease?  


Don Benscotter:   “I’m sure that we can but I’ll check with our people and have them run the numbers.’


GS     “Good.    Do 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.”


DB;      “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.


GS       Sounds good to me.                  


ACT II Scene One

This act takes place in Doc Cleven’s office.


Narrator :    We look in on Doc Cleven in his office while he’s on the phone with George Snively.


DC:                  George, I want you to catch the next plane and get over here.   I’ve got something to discuss with you.    Pause.   

OK, 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


Narrator :            Time flies and we look into Doc Cleven’s office the next day.


George Snively enters stage right and sits down at Cleven’s desk.


GS:    Ok what’s the urgency and why all the mystery?


DC:      I want you to sell the GE 600 system to Lease Financing with an option to rent.


GS:      What?


DC:      Yes.    If 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.


GS:      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.


DC:      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.


GS:      “OK.   I’ll try.”


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.


OC:   “How’s your day going?”


DC:      “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.”


OC:      “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.”


Hands Cleven a piece of paper.


OC      These are instructions to follow if Mr. Rogers is abusive and threatens your job..


ACT III Scene Two


 Doc Cleven returns to his office.

Enter Buck Rogers


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.


Cleven:    “Code One”


BR:      “What 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 complaining.


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.”


Narrator :     Hughes Aircraft  subsequently ordered TWO GE 600 systems which,  Doc. Cleven recently advised, remained in service for 8 to 10 years.  


 Thus ends another chapter in the fascinating saga of the Computer Department.


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