Bob Gray has the distinction of having more years of seniority at ACS than the company has been in business. That's because Bob was working at one of the firms that merged to become T & B Computing (the original name of ACS) and was allowed to count his years of service there when T & B Computing was formed.
In his 30+ years here, Bob has witnessed remarkable changes in operating systems, programming languages and software technology. When he first began his career in computing, he programmed in Fortran for a mainframe computer, even using card decks on occasion, and had to debug using core dumps (or hex dumps). Access to the computer was through shared terminals in a terminal room, where they were connected via phone modems running 300 baud. Reports and data were printed out on green-bar paper.
By the time T & B was formed, the programmers got desktop terminals, which was a huge deal, Bob recalls. From mainframes, he went to Prime mini-computers and was involved in writing the General Mailing System, which was the forerunner of today's circulation functionality. Over the years, the software was ported from Prime to VAX VMS, to UNIX and then to Windows.
In the early 90's, Bob moved from the circulation side of the software to the book and product order. Development in that area has been his focus ever since and he has worked on such functionality as taxes, EDI, customer search, duplicate consolidation, payment dialog boxes, premiums and premium sets, online authorization for credit cards and the new user interface. Bob's favorite tasks involve creating a new feature or piece of functionality that he knows will be useful to clients and improve what Advantage has to offer.
Currently in the product development group led by Howie Brooks, Bob has nothing but admiration for Howie as a supervisor. He is especially impressed with Howie's ability to multi-task. And Howie has good things to say about him: "Bob is the resident expert on all things PRO, but he's also more of an expert in CIR/AMB/ARP, etc. than he'll readily admit. You can depend on Bob for anything and know that he gives everything his best effort. He cares deeply for the integrity of the product."
Bob's reputation for caring about the integrity of the software is well known. Other engineers like to run their ideas past him because he is good at pointing out potential problems with a design. As Howie explains, "If your design can get past Bob, then there's a very good chance you've covered the bases."
Bob has worked with nearly everyone at ACS over the years. Project manager John Sheehy has this to say about his experience with Bob: "I've had the pleasure of working closely with Bob over the last three years on a large development project. His attention to detail and ability to consider wider development implications proved to be an invaluable asset to the project's success. His easy-going nature also makes him a lot of fun to work with and very approachable for development collaboration."
A native of Ann Arbor, Bob studied engineering at the University of Michigan as well as elementary education at Eastern Michigan University. Upon graduation, teaching jobs were scarce and Bob went to work for Project Management Associates—a precursor to T & B Computing—and has never been sorry.
Bob and his wife of 36+ years, Sarah, live in Saline with the youngest of their five children. Their eldest, Angela, 35, lives in Ohio and works for Xavier University. Charlie, 33, is a lawyer and lives in Cleveland with his wife and Bob and Sarah's first grandchild, Arlo. Robert, 30 manages a small business in Ann Arbor and Carla, 28 works in federal law enforcement in Washington, DC. And the "baby" of the family, Eleanor, 16, attends high school in Saline. Bob is visibly proud of all of his children and their accomplishments and enjoys visiting them whenever possible. In his leisure time, Bob enjoys gardening and playing hockey and is also an avid runner and tennis player. He is not one to sit still or waste time.
We hope that Bob continues to use his considerable energy on Advantage development for many more years.