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Henry Steele's blog

Managing with Store Level Data


Henry M. Steele
July 31, 2010

During the summer of 1974 the first IBM supermarket scanning system (3660) in the United States was installed at the Pathmark (Supermarkets General Corp.) store in South Plainfield, N.J. I managed the on-site IBM installation team, working with a similar SGC group. In addition to many preinstallation functions (e.g., front end modifications, check stand design, training of store personnel, measurement of various factors to determine costs and benefits, etc.), we worked with the IBM development lab to validate function in the 3660 hardware and software. Our application development work, both pre and post installation, focused on front end measurements to facilitate labor scheduling and the use of item movement data (e.g., store inventory replenishment, shelf allocation, shrink identification, direct store delivery control). We eagerly anticipated use of item movement data for merchandising analysis, but did not quantify any work in this area.

Early Grocery Store Level Efforts by IBM

The Transaction Recorder was an attempt to develop a mechanical register and is the earliest system I know that IBM worked on. In 1968 or earlier IBM worked on it but it was not sufficiently cost effective to become a product.

1968-1969 The 29SM (SM meant Store Machine) followed this and was developed in the San Jose plant and installed in a Safeway store in Fremont, California in 1969. The test was successful and the marketing division wanted to go to market. That was over ruled by the Development Division and Corporate because of coming store technology. The 29SM was based on an IBM 1130 processor and IBM OPD 632 systems for the keyboards. Products were coded in something similar to PLU numbers used later but tuned to enhance key performance

1969 - 1971 Development of a third store effort, known internally as "Pebble Beach" followed this in the San Jose Plant and was based on a System /3 processor. Unfortunately, development killed this when they learned about new microprocessor technology known internally as the Universal Controller. After this store systems development moved to Raleigh.

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