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SAS Global Forum 2012 Keynote from John Sall

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John Sall's Keynote at SGF 2012, Orlando

“Why SAS is an Institute”

Senior VP John Sall has never had a promotion from SAS Institute. Honorary doctorate from North Carolina State. Majored in History.

Take a look at the ‘garage era’ of SAS. Creation of Earth; Pyramid era; NC State. Gertrude Cox founded the first statistics dpt at North Carolina State University; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, [“UNC” Tarheels]; and Triangle Pk.

Showed photos from the past, including old ‘calculators’, the pioneers. Analyzing data was the driving force. [Picture], NCSU Cox Hall and J.H. Goodnight, 1960. Dr ‘G’ taught linear models as part of the university. “We were academics and were expected to write journal articles.”

Moved across the street July 1, 1976 to sell SAS with a new manual, [picture]. Could only afford but the building in back, “SAS Institute, Inc” was on the door. There were four founders, six people, and we didn’t think anybody would buy from such a small team, hence the name. Now, ‘institute’ in the title makes us look little.

[Picture of our leader, Jim Goodnight] a ‘clean-desk’ type of a guy. He was the best at our marketing. Jim Barr, myself, and Jane Helwig also marketed, (She also wrote the small beginner’s guide). We each had a region for marketing. [More pictures.] Ann Baggett used her maiden name. Bill Gjertzen was the first new hire. Pictures of others hired in. We grew to 651 people.

SAS User Group, International [SUGI] conferences began. George Miller wrote a SUGI paper, “Miss America in Review”, which was reported for their first New York Times mention. Needed to move to a large professional building, then into Europe, expanding — England, Brussels, and great buildings all over Europe.

At SAS Institute, built more buildings, A, B, C, and L; now rebuilt. Some have functional names to not run out of the alphabet.

More PR, publicity, and media coverage: “What, Me worry about Business Intelligence?” Risk taking was also reported.

Soon voted in to be the best place to work. At the top for two years. [See the comment of Dr Goodnight

Technical Curiosities: SAS was originally half-written in assembler, on punch cards. Proc FORMAT wrote out binary load modules. Proc BMDP got data back from SAS data (but was not very portable). MVS was first and CMS was simulated.

SAS was rewritten completely, twice. Assembly, etc => PL/1 => C.

Graph and FSP were add-on products.

People Ironies: Tony Barr wrote Proc ANOVA, (the computer science developer).

Current Ironies: competitors were focused on data, SAS winning; now, the big companies are the same but focusing on business analytics and evidence-based management. Used to regret ‘S’ to embrace it. Cannot abbreviate.

Current leading technologies now include:

  • Big DATA
  • In Memory
  • Massive Parallel
  • Visual Analytics

Worked also on JMP on these areas but not for the enterprise.

United Nations declares 2013 as the year of Statistics.

Invited to JMP booth. "I love statistics" pins personally from John Sall...[Thanks!]
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