User Stories

Some love it - others hate it. Some work with it every day and some cannot even remember which version they used. What is YOUR story about SPSS?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Major Lester Major Lester wrote on 5. October 2018 at 21:14:
I first used SPSS in 1974 to analyse public sector salaries at a CDC bureau in Victoria London (SIA). We received a fortran source code magnetic tape from USA, and had to compile it with card decks. It was by far the most popular Stats system at the time because it was easy to use.

Then in 1985 I joined the company and set up the SPSS UK office. For 10 years we used SPSS to do our marketing analysis, invoice our customers (Report writer), enter all customer details (DE) and even calculate the annual salary budget. In the end it was replaced by more normal accounting and CRM systems... but for many years it ran the show.

SPSS changed the way the world looked at data analysis. Instead of handing analysis off to statisticians/programmers, it was possible for normal people to solve their problems by themselves.
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Martin Young Martin Young wrote on 2. October 2018 at 14:02:
I first came into contact with SPSS in 1990 working as a volunteer for an international student body (AIESEC). I recall many days of entering survey responses into SPSS Data Entry followed by analysis in SPSS on a Mac. This was pre-Windows and I remember how cool it was to use a GUI for the first time. In 1992 I responded to a job ad in The Guardian newspaper for a Software Trainer position at SPSS UK Ltd. The interviews were held in their Chertsey offices and I remember being struck by how friendly everyone was (Sue Murray, Antu N'Jai, Gill Darbyshire, and John McConnell). I was hired and had a fun few days getting to know the company and the small team that was then SPSS UK. Jon Petersen explained the commercial side, John McConnell the technical side and Major Lester the fun side of working at SPSS UK. I was relieved to find that Major was far from being the ex-military man I had imagined!

My first training course was a 3 day Introduction to SPSS/PC+. It didn't go very well, nor did the next course which was a 2 day Introduction to SPSS on VAX/VMS using the tortuous command prompt. After the launch of SPSS for Windows things got easier (and a lot busier). Some training courses that stand out for me are: the Conversion to SPSS for Windows course where one attendee was waving the mouse in front of the monitor; an on-site course in the Brecon Beacons and the realisation on the day that I had forgotten the diskette containing all the course data, syntax, etc., then the arrival of a leather clad motorbike courier with said diskette (thanks Kelly Smith!); an on-site course in Belfast at the height of "The Troubles" when I narrowly missed a bomb exploding in Belfast's train station; writing the SPSS Tables for Windows course guide from scratch without a manual. I also recall in minute detail the setting up of the training room @ Chertsey starting with the trellis tables and benches and velour table cloths, followed by a sweep of the office and commandeering of every PC in sight. These 386 PCs were torture to work with and were eventually replaced with 486 PCs โ€“ a happy day in the SPSS UK training department!

SPSS UK was a fantastic workplace and I look back on those 2 years with great fondness. It was a time when SPSS UK was no more than 20 people strong and so it was possible for the entire office to head next-door to The Crown for a few pints of Youngโ€™s and a game of โ€œKillerโ€ darts. The Christmas parties were always hilarious featuring fancy dress and practical jokes: I recall one Christmas party with a Gangsters and Molls theme where the two new hires were fed false information: they were told it was a cross-dressing Vicars & Tarts theme duly arriving in fishnet stockings, silk basques and make-up (Kevin Lancashire, Andy Wilson โ€“ you looked stunning as maids)! Then of course was the SPSS UK Summer Party hosted by Major & Sharon Lester at their home on the banks of the Wey River. This event drew in SPSSers from around the world particularly from SPSS Benelux (Fred van Alphen, Hans Oostrum, et al) and SPSS Inc (Nancy D, Jack Noonan, Jason Verlen, et al). Of course, no SPSS UK Summer Party was complete without the โ€œno-rulesโ€ boat race around the island which one year ended with Steve Barr in hospital getting his stomach pumped.

Those 2 years at SPSS UK were a prelude to a career that has, to this day, been SPSS-centric. When the chapter working as a trainer at SPSS UK closed another chapter opened, namely in a brand new role created for me by Ian Durrell, VP SPSS International. In this new role as SPSS Channel Manager for Central & Eastern Europe (โ€œCEEโ€), I was responsible for growing the SPSS indirect business across the former communist bloc. These were exciting times at a period when the region was just starting to emerge from those dark days of communism. Some memories that stand out from those early days: visiting SPSS GmbH in Munich with my new boss, Tim Dimond-Brown, and the look on Renataโ€™s face when we told them about the CEE territory carve-out; visiting Moscow in the mid-1990s, staying in a military hotel with no phone lines and a corpse in a Moscow Metro station; the first SPSS CEE Partner Meeting in Brno in 1995 with welcome drinks in my lounge; Ian Durrellโ€™s reaction when he heard I had settled in Brno: โ€œWhat the F*** are you doing in Brno; I thought you were in F****** Prague!!!โ€; a long drive to Krakow with Tim Dimond-Brown to visit the newest SPSS partner at the time (COMPANION) with a boot full of the latest SPSS 3 ยผ diskettes and user guides; the SPSS UK delegation in Brno during my wedding in 1998 and their quest for the cheapest Pilsner lager (20p a pint I think was the record!); a single ATM in Brno and my sole source of funds in the early days; my first mobile phone (the Sony โ€œbrickโ€) and data card that connected me to the internet at 9600 baud โ€“ barely enough to download email from my CompuServe account (this was before @spss.com corporate email).

In the ensuing years, my role as SPSS CEE Channel Manager morphed into a more international role bringing me into contact with more and more SPSS business partners and franchise owners from across Europe, Middle East and Africa. I am proud to have been involved in SPSSโ€™s international expansion with many stand-out moments such as: the first ever release of the Polish and Russian versions of SPSS for Windows back in the late 1990โ€™s; the creation and expansion of the SPSS franchise network in the late 1990โ€™s / early 2000โ€™s; together with Jack Noonan, closing the largest SPSS sale in the companyโ€™s history at the time at a bank in Poland; a smooth(ish) transition of SPSS partners into the IBM family following the IBM acquisition of SPSS Inc. in 2008. Over and above all these commercial milestones are the numerous SPSS friends I have made all over the world โ€“ friendships that endure to this day and ones I will continue to treasure.

Fast-forward to today, and I am happy to say that my work is still heavily centred around SPSS and the SPSS partner and user community worldwide. After a 5 year spell at IBM following the IBM acquisition of SPSS Inc, I joined Predictive Solutions Ltd, the former SPSS Poland franchise, as their new VP International (a job title inspired by Ian Durrellโ€™s role at SPSS). In this role I am once again reunited with my SPSS friends from around the world from Singapore to the USA, from Kenya to Russia. A few weeks ago after a โ€œbriefโ€ hiatus of 20+ years, I was once again in the classroom delivering a training course on SPSS Statistics. It occurred to me then that the one thing that SPSS and I have in common: we are both 50 years old this year! Long live SPSS!
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Phil Hall Phil Hall wrote on 17. May 2018 at 15:23:
Reading the other stories prompted me to add mine...

I joined SPSS in Feb 2001 - my manager at a previous employer had joined SPSS and then brought me over there with him - I was going to be working on helping with the port of SPSS to run on the IBM iSeries (nee AS/400). The second day of being there I was poached by another manager after finding the reason why Microsoft's Internet Explorer was failing to load a local link - the question was sent out by Jon Fry, who, because of me being such a SPSS newbie at the time, I had no idea who he was!

I worked then on the 'Smuggler' project with so many super talented people: ViAnn, Dick Lieber, Jay, etc. Ralph in an earlier story mentioned "I was used to being a big fish in a small pond, and these guys were so exponentially better than me it was embarrassing" I know exactly what he meant - to see these guys in a UI design meeting was enlightening to say the least. Sometimes those collective meetings got a bit shall we say 'animated' but the incredible thing was, once people left the meeting room there was never any continued arguments. Often you'd see two people who had been 'heatedly' arguing over a particular issue 5 minutes later outside chatting & laughing in a cigarette/coffee break.

After that project, I moved to the "Recommendation Engine" team and had the fantastic opportunity to again work directly with extremely talented staff - Andrew Walaszek, Dave Hess, Rama, etc. We were trying to create a shrink wrapped Recommendation driven website or rather a plugin-in for existing websites and we even had a very helpful customer (a local tea shop) that used the product. We also created a 'high speed scoring engine' that scored large volumes of cases so fast we initially thought it was broken ๐Ÿ™‚

When that project wound down, I moved to the core SPSS development team and again was lucky to work with Jon Fry, Tex (from whom I inherited the licensing code and some other very clever FORTRAN code for other parts of the system [Exact Tests anyone?]), Kim Peck, Rick Oliver, Kevin Phelan, Jeff Sweeney, Curtis Browning etc, from whom I learned so very much.

Like many stories before mine, the core theme is how much of a honor/privilege it was to work at SPSS with such great people on a daily basis - a few more I've not already mentioned: Jing, Vikas, BJ Scherer, Jay Kosiba, Dave Watkins, and so many, many more on a less frequent basis.

One of my favorite moments to remember: while working with Andrew, being part of the team to do the technical due diligence for a couple of acquisitions that SPSS made; sitting around a table with Jack Noonan, Doug Dow, (and others from that high level) with their counter parts from the companies that SPSS was planning to acquire was, for a simple software developer like me, a surreal experience!!
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Karen Hardie Karen Hardie wrote on 17. May 2018 at 15:09:
Wow - many many years ago I started a commerce degree at University of NSW where I majored in Marketing - finished in 1977. In about 1984 I did my Masters Degree in Commerce - market research - I honestly canโ€™t remember when I started to use SPSS - it was version 3.2 and in DOS. I remember doing a survey for my bachelor degree and starting to do data entry using the punch card machine and then deciding that it was too hard and taking the surveys down to IBM at North Sydney and getting them to do the data entry onto cards.
Then after a few years in market research executive side I moved to the new technology - computer assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) - I wanted to start a family and my directors said that I couldnโ€™t handle clients from home but I could run a DP department. So, 32 years ago I started running a DP department from home writing CATI scripts and producing reports (in Quantum) - no internet and support done via Telex. After a few moves I started working for a software company called Surveycraft - best CATI software ever (I still think this) - on Friday 13th November 1998 we were bought by SPSS.
Over the next few years SPSS the company and product looked after me very well and I learnt to love the product now known as SPSS Statistics. No-one told me I could buy employee shares until about 2008 and I started to buy some then and owned just a few when in 2009 the company was bought by IBM (not enough shares to make a difference financially unfortunately).
I am still with IBM - I now do presales for a few products -including SPSS Statistics.
I am very proud and pleased that IBM is heavily investing in SPSS Statistics and look forward to using the new interface.
Whatโ€™s SPSS done for me - well apart from being amazing software and always ahead of its time itโ€™s allowed me to work with an amazing bunch of people and experience an amazing work life - we had really good fun at SPSS - one dinner that Richard Scionti paid for in Grasse above Cannes at an ESOMAR conference which I think probably broke a record for an expensed dinner was so memorable that 13 years later I still have the menu on my desk. I met the smartest people that Iโ€™ve ever known - some of whom are still with IBM and some whoโ€™ve left - I wonโ€™t mention names as I might leave someone out - but I will say that Jack Noonan led from the top - no airs, no graces - just a very very smart guy who always treated you as if you were the most important person in the room if he was talking to you. At SPSS Sydney we had a great photo of Jack and our office junior arm in arm at a pub playing pool - he was the best senior executive I have experienced.
My memories of SPSS are very very happy
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Sheri Gilley Sheri Gilley wrote on 4. May 2018 at 16:29:
I started working at SPSS in 1984, just as SPSS/PC was being released. Over the next 25 years I had the pleasure of working with so many bright and talented people who became my lifelong friends.

I arrived after the move to 444 North Michigan Ave. I remember the big green bar printer on our floor. If you wanted to print on a real sheet of paper, there was the pruoc command, which would route your output to a printer at the University of Chicago (print uoc). The next day it would show up in your mail slot like magic! Yes, we had physical mail slots and we used to get paper memos delivered there as well as those deliveries from UofC.

I remember conducting training seminars for SPSS/PC in which the first half day was devoted to teaching basic DOS commands because so many of the attendees had purchased a PC solely for the purpose of running SPSS on their own computer.

I remember long Friday parties with food trays and lots of beer. I remember the lock on the beer fridge. I remember an incident involving a big papier-mรขchรฉ apple which belonged to a downstairs restaurant that mysteriously ended up in the elevator during one of those Friday parties. I remember a memo about footprints on the wall in Norman's office that also mysteriously appeared after a Friday party.

I remember how excited I was when Starbucks moved into 444 and how quickly I became hooked on my morning latte. Then I moved to Woking for 6 months to work on Clementine and Woking didn't have a Starbucks. But I quickly became re-addicted when I came back to Chicago.

I remember so many releases and working around the clock to get them finished on time. While it was exhausting it was also fun and exciting. I remember Tex remarking during one release that this must be just like being retired - Saturday and Sunday are just like every other day!

SPSS was my second home (at times it felt a bit more like my first home) and the the wonderful talented people I worked with are still my second family.
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Gerard van Meurs Gerard van Meurs wrote on 2. May 2018 at 9:11:
I started using SPSS in 1979, while studying cognitive psychology at the Leiden University. In these days I had to program SPSS-syntax on punched cards. The worst thing was not this card-interface, but it was the IBM job control language you had to include: total gibberish language that was needed to make your SPSS-job run on a mainframe somewhere in one of the university buildings. This way of working had two advantages. Because each run took quite some turnaround time (typing in the SPSS-commands on the punched cards, offering the job to the job-scheduler, running to a printer for the output), you had every interest in preparing your work very precisely because you did not like to go to the printer just to see that your job ended with an error message. The other advantage (over working with the menu โ€“interface) is that you became quite proficient in writing SPSS-syntaxes, a skill that I still use in my current job.
One of the great things about SPSS, especially in the early days were the very good written SPSS manuals of Marija Norusis. I have used these manuals very often to explain statistical methods to colleagues or clients.
I still use SPSS a lot, but nowadays I also use R for analytic work. I think SPSS took the right decision to enable the use of R within SPSS. 50 years is an impressive age for a software package like SPSS, but Iโ€™m not sure whether SPSS will survive another 50 years.
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Anneli Pettersson Anneli Pettersson wrote on 30. April 2018 at 20:10:
As a former employee I am so glad I was part of the SPSS-family for twelve years. I met so many nice colleagues through the years and have made friends for life - working for this international company gave me great experiences and I still "dream" of the 'good old days'.
As someone in the Swedish office once said - SPSS - Sexy People Selling Software - I think that was us!
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Ralph Brendler Ralph Brendler wrote on 29. April 2018 at 0:23:
In 1989 I was a happy-but-underpaid engineer at a small startup in Grand Rapids, MI. I took an interview with SPSS, with no intention of taking the job-- the plan was to get an offer and use it as leverage to get some more money from my current company.

Anyway, I started out talking with Kim Peck for a while, worked on the white board for a bit, and felt pretty good about myself. Then... they dropped me off with Andrew Walaszek. I could tell immediately that he was in the middle of something, and not happy for the interruption. He glanced over my resume, and said (in his thick Polish accent) something along the lines of "You know OS/2?" and put me in front of his computer. He as debugging some crazy low-level issue, and we spent the next 45 minutes or so chasing it down. After Andrew I spent another 45 minutes with John Werner doing a rather intense internal design session.

By the end of my interview I was mentally exhausted, and questioning my career choice. I had never seen ANYONE as focused and intense as Andrew, or as effortlessly brilliant in the details of software architecture as John. I was used to being a big fish in a small pond, and these guys were so exponentially better than me it was embarrassing. But by god, I wanted to work at SPSS so I could learn from them! I got an offer a few days later, left GR, and never looked back.

My fondest personal memories:

- The engineering all-hands where Louise announced my promotion to principal engineer. I was honestly shocked, and nearly cried. I couldn't believe that they let me in the same club as Tex, Andrew, and John Fry

- Spending countless hours with ViAnn trying to figure out the internals of pivot tables by examining Lotus Improv. We didn't know it at the time, but we were basically re-inventing OLAP from first principles.

- Andrew and I looking over Tex's shoulder while he re-wrote the MS Fortran memory manager at 4am, a few hours before the time that we needed to ship SPSS 7

- Spending more than a week tracking down a heisenbug in SPSS 6 with Lisa Childers, that eventually required us to jerry-rig an inline emulator using dumb terminal on the com port.

- Louise, Andrew, and I doing a long phone interview with PC Week about the crazy stuff we were doing in SPSS 7. When the article came out they got Andrew's name right, but I was Ralph Brencier.

- Spending many long days with Rob McKinley and Andrew at the MS porting lab in Washington. I think Louise thought it was a perk (look, a week in Seattle!), when the reality was a lot of 12+ hour days.

Thanks SPSS, for teaching me what it meant to be a professional software developer. Happy 50th!
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Rick Oliver Rick Oliver wrote on 28. April 2018 at 23:34:
I think we got this idea from Bob Gruen, but I take partial credit for implementing it: In the help index we included an entry for "loop, infinite; see infinite loop", and another entry for "infinite loop: see loop, infinite. We eventually had to remove them when some customer without a sense of humor complained about it.
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Yael Morris Yael Morris wrote on 28. April 2018 at 12:12:
26 years ago, at my second year at university, I had SPSS course. It was version 4 for Unix. A year later I became a tutor for SPSS, became adicted and said: SPSS is not a job, it's a way of life... and thus 20 years ago I started working for SPSS Israel, first on training, than added tech supoort, and at the end I found myself managing the local office. Those were the days... It helped me find my true calling at market research, and I kept using the software until version 20.
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ViAnn Beadle ViAnn Beadle wrote on 27. April 2018 at 21:11:
This is the origin story of SPSS/PC. I was getting a lot of calls from users about when SPSS was going to be available on the PC. After the IBM pc/xt was introduced along with the "winchester" harddrive, I thought we had a chance to adapt SPSSG, a 100K stripped down version of the mainframe version of SPSS that Tex had developed. I talked to Bill Arendt about how it worked, using a common stored in memory, data stored on a drive, and different procedures that were swapped in and out of memory to execute commands. Bill took a look at the SPSSG architecture and thought that it would work. The interface was SPSS syntax commands and the output ASCII. We were targeting this to mainframe users who wanted to run SPSS on their PC. Bill recruited Dennis Bartley to work on the architecture for the product and Jean Jenkins to work on porting the procedures. It was a hard sell to Marketing that initially estimated we could probably sell less than 1000 copies of the product. We figured that we could probably get it up and running within six months but would take about a year to completely finish it. Fortunately, a FORTRAN compiler was available for the PC but was a bit buggy and managed to stymie us every now and then. Louise Rehling wanted it done by Christmas so we called it the XMAS project. We had two PCs to test it on and they were named Merry and Christmas. We finally got it done by June of the next year and overshot our 256K memory target and required a floating point accelerator chip. Most XT's only had 256K so we had to convince our beta testers to upgrade their XT's for memory and floating point chip. I remember trying to get the memory chips onto expansion cards as we got more machines. A definite PITA. I think we beat the original Marketing estimate in the first two months it was sold.
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Tex Hull Tex Hull wrote on 27. April 2018 at 20:48:
I can add a few things to the narrative.

1966 was the year when Norman, Dale, and Tex got together. Norman was, in fact, 23 at the time. I was all of 24, and Dale was somewhat older. Dale soon left for the University of Alberta, Edmonton - rather a different climate in many ways from Stanford at the time. As an aside, the product was initially called the Non-Parametric Statistical System (NPSS).

1968 was the first customer ship complete with a mimeographed manual. It was delivered on mag tape with rather sketchy installation instructions written by yours truly. In the days of IBM mainframe OS, I think customers had more trouble with installation than with the program itself.

1969 - development shifted from Stanford to the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago.

1976 - the SPSS offices moved from the U of C campus to the Chicago Loop - specifically to 111 East Wacker Drive (One Illinois Center). Subsequent moves were to 444 North Michigan Ave around 1978 and to 233 South Wacker Drive (Sears Tower) in the 90's.

1993 - the Windows 95 product was a dramatic shift. Unlike the PC product, this was basically the mainframe product running as a 32-bit virtual application. This was a bridge product just as Windows 95 was a bridge system between the 16-bit Windows 3.x DOS-based systems and Windows NT. Subsequent development used this code base.

Somebody should document all the mainframe systems to which SPSS was adapted - CDC 6600, Honeywell 6000, Univac 9000, RCA Spectra 70, DEC-10, and probably many more. We had an annual "converters' conference" to discuss policy and problems.

How about the foreign language translations of the user interface? Does anybody remember the Catalan translation?

Another thing missing is the SPSS users' group - ISSUE. We probably need some input from Keith Sours on this one.

How do I feel about my time with SPSS? It was a great ride. I'm thankful to Louise Rehling for taking over my management responsibility so I could relax and code.
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Susan Kalell Susan Kalell wrote on 27. April 2018 at 16:28:
David Pittman hired me as PR Manager in 1996. I remember sitting in the lobby at 444 N. Michigan when I was waiting to meet with him and Shirley Ransome (the legendary velvety-voiced receptionist) told me โ€œDave is such a nice person.โ€ I had no idea how life changing that job would be. BTW - I discovered Shirley was right, Dave *is* a nice person, a fantastic boss and continues to be a friend.

Five years into it, I knew I wanted to do something else instead of PR and Mark Battaglia created a job for me. He wanted someone to build a business plan for a user conference and asked me to take the role. Once I started working in events, I knew thatโ€™s where I belonged. We ran Data Mining Summits in Reston, VA and Paris. Then we created the SPSS Directions user conference which ran for several years in the US and Europe - Las Vegas, Orlando, Chicago, Athens, Amsterdam, Prague, Barcelona, Rome.

I loved the work and the travel, but what kept me with the company for so long was the people. I met some of my dearest and best friends at SPSS. To this day, I organize a holiday party in Dec/Jan where SPSSers get together. itโ€™s truly amazing how everyone remarks that we still feel like family and that the SPSS experience was special and one-of-a-kind. I am forever grateful.
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Mark A. Barton Mark A. Barton wrote on 27. April 2018 at 13:52:
I started at SPSS in March 1982. In 1984 Bill Arendt showed me an IBM PC sitting in his office. He explained tome that the PC might just be a passing fad, but that we were going to port our mainframe software onto the PC since there seemed to be at least a short-term market for it. I became part of the early SPSS/PC team: Bill Arendt, Jean Jenkins, Kim Peck, ViAnn Beadle, and myself. We had to make SPPS/PC all fit onto PC's with 384K of memory, which required lots of adjustments. We quickly had a PC product. There were just two original IBM PC's at SPSS, one of which was named "Merry". I forget the name of the other. I think ViAnn had named them. Each machine had only floppy drives, and each PC had an external hard drive in a separate box the same size as the original IBM PC, that was either 5 or 10 megabytes. We stored the object files on that hard drive, from which we linked the final release. The hard drive only had room for about 80% of the object files, so we had to swap in floppies during the build process to pick up the remaining object files. There were about 6 separate "modules" to build, and each took about 40 minutes to link. I recall staying one night before a release and sleeping under the desk, waking up every 40 minutes or so to change floppies so the build would finish before morning.
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Britta Freydenfeld Britta Freydenfeld wrote on 27. April 2018 at 11:16:
"Do you like talking on the phone and working with computers?"
That was my first engagement with SPSS when I applied for the job as a sales rep. I had no idea what I was getting into. A flat mate showed me a book describing SPSS PC + to help me prepare for my interview with the hiring manager. After I opened the book and saw all the formulas, I decided to read just the introduction text on the jacket. Needless to say, I was not well prepared. Somehow, I passed the interview and was invited to come in for three days to work without pay to see if I was a good fit in that environment.
It was fun training to sell SPSS's statistical software โ€” with no clue what I was doing. The colleague who trained me laughed the entire time I was trying to create a sales conversation.
My second day on the job was also my 30th birthday, and I asked if I could leave a bit early โ€” remember, I was working for no pay.
โ€œYes, no problem,โ€ my colleague replied. After waiting for hours, I thought he would come back to me and let me know when I could leave, but nothing happened. So, I decided to ask again, as the clock struck 5 oโ€™clock. He had completely forgotten about my request, and I was annoyed โ€” how could he forget that I needed to celebrate my 30th birthday?! Grrrr.
My third day on the job, nothing special happened, except that my Windows computer slowed down more and more, and I had no idea why. After a while, I could barely work anymore and told my colleague about the problem. After examining the computer, he determined that MS Word was opened 12 plus times, and the CRM System A/S โ€” some self-designed application with black background and white and blue letters โ€” was opened a dozen times, too. The working memory could not handle the load, so it slowed down. I didnโ€™t know to use Alt+Tab to switch between programs; no one told me.
Something similar happened at a later date, as I tried to write an offer using MS Word. While I was away from my computer, someone turned my font colour to white. As I typed, nothing appeared on the screen! White characters on a white background will do that, apparently. Again, I asked for help, while the team-mates laughed their heads off.
After all they hired me. I passed the working days trial, and the pendulum they used to find out if I was the right person circulated in the correct direction (this was told me much much later). I got the job!

SPSS Germany was located in two 4-5 rooms flats, 1st floor in the Steinsdorfstrasse in Munich, with bathroom, kitchen, balcony. The sales team 4 people - sat in a small room - just big enough for four desks. We got telephones without headset, so you clamp the earpiece between your head and shoulder. A real adventure was calling to Eastern Germany in the early 90s. You needed to type the phone number very very slow, even more slower, and made a break after every number. If you dialed too fast the line was busy and you could start again.
For offer creation I needed to print out every offer I wrote and present it to the colleague to get his corrections.
This was a good thing to start with. He wrote down his corrections, and I implemented them and printed it out again. Next proofreading session. After a week it gets cumbersome. And after a while my trainer found a hard time to find something he could correct. Finally he did not found anything anymore, still he told me, here is a paragraph too much - that was the time I told him, that I think I am good enough to do that on my own in the future. And so I did.
In the early 90s the sales reps did everything - offer creation, cold calling, first level support, and creation of licensecodes using an application in MS Dos. And the first time I heard the word โ€œdongleโ€. Licensecodes were valid until 2013 which seems to be far far away in the future. And now thatโ€™s already 5 years ago.
The sales reps group I worked in, was only allowed to talk to small revenue customers. For clients, which seemed to make more money there was another sales team who sat in a separate room. As soon the amount of revenue got too high you had to hand that over to the other group. That was sometimes frustrating. I also let the sales manager know, that it would be good to know what the software exactly does, and how it works, and if I could have some training on it. But the answer of our sales manager was always, you do not have to understand the software, just sell it. Much later I got the trainings for the software I requested, and I was right, because I helped a lot to improve selling and performance.

SPSS Germany in the beginning was a full service company, from offer and invoice creation, telephone support, training and delivery. But again โ€“ the company was located in an appartement building, so whenever there was a delivery, the entire company (except some special people, who always duck out) needed to go outside and help to carry all the stuff inside โ€“ from copy paper, books, software - despite of rain, snow, sun.

SPSS was a great place to work. We got free breakfast, lunch and drinks. This time we got an italian cook. Unfortunately I often found her hair in my food. Not what I really expected. But the cooks at SPSS was a very special story.

We got flat hierarchy, but the one and only leader was the founder of SPSS Germany. Whatever she said, you better do not disagree โ€“ even if she insulted you, and told that this button on the copy machine is for the stupid. And she had bias against people with the zodiac sign Libra. Some men with that zodiac disappointed her โ€“ so were the rumours. But was that anything of my business?
After a long working day it was much appreciated it you stayed longer than 6pm. Not for work. Leadership and the higher sales reps plus some tech people often sat together and drank wine from Frankonia. No matter if you started work at 7am because you were super busy - that did not count at all - everything after 6pm was gold and much appreciated - and if you had plans to keep your job you would better join from time to time. So you sat there, listened to their stories, and hoped you could go as soon as possible without getting into much trouble.
SPSS grew more and more, and at some point we needed to move into bigger rooms. So after 1,5 years we moved to real office rooms just a few streets away in the so called Motorama. I was really happy they did engage a moving company. I suspected that we need to pack our stuff ourselves.
Motorama was the legendary milestone in the history of SPSS Germany. From an upcoming company, which distributed software in the daytime, to a party location after work. Now we got plenty of space, and a huge terrace to sit outside, for after-work-beer, barbeque lunch, icebar parties and snowball fights.
Nearly every week we found any reason to party. Birthdays, revenue, good weather. We got an extra fridge in the canteen, full of beer and wine. And if we ran out of drinks, the grocery stores in the basement floor were still open until 8pm - you just make sure you did not miss this deadline. Most of the time the parties ended at 21.00 h, but some never stopped. Sometimes you could find your colleagues sleeping below their desks, because they could not make their way home anymore, and missed the last train.
After such a night you need to start slow into your day โ€“ so not to forget out smokers room. This was a tiny little room, big enough for a beer bench and a little palm tree. Thatโ€™s where you got your first cigarette after taken your free coffee, and spent a little time to read the newspaper. Or complete the crosswords. The little palm found a hard time in this room โ€“ the leaves were coloured yellow from all the smoke, but it survived it all. It has now a place at IBM.
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Michael McBride Michael McBride wrote on 26. April 2018 at 18:42:
Hello my S.P.S.S Family, I had the Greatest pleasure of working with every Department. I started April 1990 in the Mailroom. Between moving everyone Office around and Setting up Conference Rooms, Filling up your Beverage Machine daily and Ordering the Supplies for your Friday Party. It gave me Great joy to know that every Employee was happy. I looked forward to coming to this company everyday because we had some of the Greatest people to walk thru the doors. This was the Best Company that I ever worked for. I really miss everyone one of you, the good conversations, making me apart of your family's lives and most of all showing me that I was equivalent as a employee. If I never had a chance to tell you guys that I Love my S.P.S.S. Family and can't wait until we get together again. "Big Mike McBride"
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Nicolas d'Andrรฉ Nicolas d'Andrรฉ wrote on 26. April 2018 at 17:58:
Simply fascinating to see the technology shifts that SPSS went through and the never-ending success it is having.
I came to SPSS France in 2007 to fuel the new "enterprise" segment that SPSS had decided to attack. A fantastic Country Manager (David WIlliamson), an exceptional pre-sales team (Hervรฉ Mignot), an inspiring marketing team (Hervรฉ Dhelin) and of course GREAT products! In that new segment, we went from 0$ to several millions in 2 years, from 0 customer to hundreds of big loyal companies... A lot of fun working with European colleagues - and yes it can also be fun discussing with the Legal team based in the UK! The focus paid off. And then big IBM took over. I remember IBMers trying to understand what we were selling and how we were approaching business people in the marketing area for example. Some didn't understand (still don't probably) but they were all saying SPSS was like a tiger tooth. No customer complaint. No product defects. Happy and Loyal customers always eager to explore more and more data with the SPSS products. I am very thankful to all the people I met during these years at SPSS. I have met enthusiasts engineers, great salespeople, marketing innovators and so forth. By the way, I am still using SPSS Modeler (now on my MacBook) to analyse sales data and derive insights on my day to day job. Thank you SPSS and special thanks to the SPSS France wonderful team!
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Bernard "BJ" Scherer Bernard "BJ" Scherer wrote on 26. April 2018 at 16:13:
I had the pleasure of working with some of the best people for 15 years at SPSS. Some really good times and I learned a lot. Louise Rehling was a hard interviewer but she warned me about trying to fit into this family of passionate people. I thank her and Jing for giving me a chance.
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Krzysztof Kusch Krzysztof Kusch wrote on 26. April 2018 at 11:56:
I can remember that when I started working at SPSS Poland I spent hours on Raynald Levesque's SPSS Tools and UCLA's (I guess) pages. I learned to love Syntax, and, later, when I discovered that data visualization does not end with bar charts, GPL. Today, I'm pushing SPSS's to the limits building new procedures for SPSS based solution - PS IMAGO PRO, looking for undocumented functions (for example who would think that there is Voronoi binning in SPSS?), teaching, and use it on daily basis.
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Larry Mathias Larry Mathias wrote on 25. April 2018 at 21:24:
When I was a college freshman in 1977, I took a course that combined journalism and data processing. We had to design a survey (like a Gallup survey) and then conduct the survey through short interviews with students from across campus. We then had to "program" the results on punch cards so we could feed the data into the SPSS mainframe application, and then review the green-bar paper for our trend analysis. Finally, we had to write a "news" article with the results.

Fast forward to 1993, and I was on the media relations team at the Financial Relations Board in Chicago -- at the time, recognized as one of the leading investor relations firms in the U.S. I was assigned to be on the SPSS account. I was able to successfully place CEO Jack Noonan into more than a dozen news articles. In Sept. 1994, SPSS was seeking a new public relations manager. Leveraging my experience with the company a year earlier, I was hired as the company's PR manager (later changed to corporate communications manager to differentiate the addition of another PR person). I spent a little more than two years with the company. I loved working for Mark Battaglia and Jack Noonan, and generating both product and company articles to raise SPSS' visibility in the market.
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Martijn Wiertz Martijn Wiertz wrote on 25. April 2018 at 21:01:
Oh boy, where to start on a 20+ year involvement with SPSS the company and all the various products...!
I used the DOS version in school, where people would do all other parts of the project for you if you just knew how to use SPSS! When I joined SPSS in the Netherlands in 1997 there was luckily a Windows version, plus tons of other products that I had to learn to demo (QI Analyst anyone? What was that flowcharting product called again??). What a great group of people to start oneโ€™s professional life with!
Then later the move towards โ€œenterpriseโ€ with the acqusitions of Clementine, DataDistilleries and more great and smart people, and the birth of PES and the development of our enterprise solutions framework just before we got acquired.
And the farewell tour by the leadership team was a great and emotional ending to that era.

And now every youngster is marvelling over โ€œAIโ€ technologies as if there was nothing before say 2010 ;-). Jack Noonanโ€™s proverbial rocket has truly left the launching pad...

SPSS was the place where I grew up, professionally speaking. So many great Aha moments and teachers over the years. Fond memories
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Rob van Beek Rob van Beek wrote on 25. April 2018 at 20:53:
Joined SPSS in 1987 as trainee and after I finished my study in computer science I decided to stay. My task was to maintain the IT infrastructure for SPSS International and support our clients all over the world with the installation of the software on Unix systems and various mainframes. At the time we were a small team where we all participated in preparing marketing mailings (using regular mail) on the kitchen table. More offices started in various locations in Europe. We therefore grew to a team of 50 supporting the various offices. Email was introduced and I supported the installation of Unix servers to enable all offices with the means to communicate. I developed the first CRM system and worked on further automation of our internal systems. After a few years I moved away from internal IT and started to support our clients via helpdesk tasks, training and consultancy. When version 7.5 was launched an object oriented scripting language was added that would allow you to customize the output and even more to integrate the software in various applications. I developed an application that allowed a user to easily run earlier created tables and graphs. Based on this application we decided to develop an application to make SPSS available for people where the full software would be too complicated. This was aimed at municipalities in the netherlands that need to run standard tables and graphs on a monthly basis. This was a great succes and has been used for years.
After being away for some years now I still use the software on regular basis.
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Jon Peck Jon Peck wrote on 25. April 2018 at 17:38:
Joined SPSS as a developer/designer/statistician in 1983 after a 13 year academic career and soon found myself deep in the development of SPSS/PC. Created the Review editor/interface and did a lot of programming in Intel assembler and C. Retired 32 years later after working on pretty much everything. I told Louise Rehling when I was hired that I was a stayer.

SPSS survived and flourished when most of its contemporaries did not because of smart strategy and perhaps a bit of luck as well as having many smart and dedicated staff around the world.
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Bernhard Witt Bernhard Witt wrote on 7. March 2018 at 16:49:
In 1996, when SPSS 6.1.3 was state of the art, I joined SPSS GmbH Software, the German subsidiary of SPSS Inc. I did not know anything about the company or the software these days, but my new boss, Dr. Karin C. was so nice to send me the printed manual some weeks before I started. I remember that the book ad a bad cigarette-smell โ€ฆ later I found out that the room where all the books and discs were stored was located next to the smokers room. ๐Ÿ™‚

So when I started at March 1st 1996, my main task was doing tech support. We were a small support team of just 3 (Bernd S. and Andreas S.), and I had a hard start to get all the stuff right. The biggest challenge was about generating BS2000 license codes and helping customers with Unix installations. Or using the LTS โ€“ an internal database where everybody entered any communication with the customers (Yes โ€“ today they call it CRM โ€ฆ ). The first SPSS windows version was 6.1.3 and I felt pretty comfortable with using this. I was always a computer enthusiast and not a statistician, so most of the data management tasks were more or less easy for me.

More laterโ€ฆ
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