History of Pick

Pick was originally implemented as the Generalized Information Retrieval Language System (GIRLS) on an IBM System/360 in 1965 by Don Nelson and Dick Pick at TRW for use by the U.S. Army to control the inventory of Cheyenne helicopter parts. Pick was subsequently commercially released in 1973 by Microdata (and their British distributor CMC) as the Reality Operating System now supplied by Northgate Information Solutions.

Originally on the Microdata implementation, and subsequently implemented on all Pick systems, a BASIC-like language called Data/BASIC with numerous syntax extensions for smart terminal interface and database operations was the primary programming language for applications. A PROC procedure language was provided for executing scripts. A SQL-style language called ENGLISH allowed database retrieval and reporting, but not updates (although later, the English command "REFORMAT" allowed updates on a batch basis). ENGLISH did not fully allow manipulation of the 3-dimensional multivalued structure of data records. Nor did it directly provide common relational capabilities such as joins. This was because powerful data dictionary redefinitions for a field allowed joins via the execution of a calculated lookup in another file. The system included a spooler. A simple text editor for file-system records was provided, but the editor was only suitable for system maintenance, and could not lock records, so most applications were written with the other tools such as Batch, RPL, or the BASIC language so as to ensure data validation and allow record locking.

Dick Pick had founded Pick & Associates, later renamed Pick Systems then Raining Data and currently called TigerLogic, and licensed what was now called "Pick" to a large variety of manufacturers and vendors who have produced different "flavors" of Pick. The database flavors sold by TigerLogic is now known as D3, mvBase, and mvEnterprise. Those sold by IBM under the "U2" umbrella are known as UniData and UniVerse. Dick Pick died of stroke complications in October 1994.

Pick Systems was often tangled in licensing litigation, and relatively little effort was devoted to marketing and improving the software. Subsequent ports of Pick to other platforms generally offered the same tools and capabilities for many years, usually with relatively minor improvements and simply renamed (for example, Data/BASIC became Pick/BASIC and ENGLISH became ACCESS). Licensees often developed proprietary variations and enhancements (for example, Microdata created their own input processor called ScreenPro). The resulting fragmented plethora of non-standard implementations caused the various Pick systems to wander ineffectively while the rest of the industry moved forward. As a result, Pick is no longer as popular or successful or discussed as it once was.