Electronic Information Exchange System (EIES)

The Electronic Information Exchange System (EIES) was one of the earliest production computer mediated communications (CMC) systems. Designed and operated at the Computerized Conferencing and Communications Center (CCCC) of the New Jersey Institute of Technology from 1977-1995, it was an incubator and testbed for many online technologies which later became commonplace.

The original EIES system operated from 1976 until 1992. First implemented on an Interdata 7/32, the system was moved to a more powerful Perkin-Elmer 3230 (PDF of marketing material) in 1981. EIES joined Mailnet in 1982, and became the first system on campus which could send email offsite.

Due to the proximity of NJIT to AT&T's Bell Labs, several Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) PDP-11 systems were received as gifts circa 1985, including a PDP 11/23, 11/44, and 11/70. The 11/23 never was utilized in production, the 11/44 had memory "issues" and never successfully booted, but the 11/70 successfully ran BSD 2.8 and was both the first DEC and Unix system on campus.

Logging in to the original EIES system was done on line-mode terminals, originally on hardcopy devices such as ASR-33, ASR-34, Computer Devices Miniterm, or DECwriter style teletypes. Video display terminals included the ADM-3a, Datamedia 1521 (solid steel, built like a tank, similiar to the DT80), Liberty Freedom 100, and the Litton-Monroe OC-8820 8-bit PCs running the ASCOM program under CP/M. One offs included the Osborne Model 1 "luggable" (close up photo), TRS-80 Model 100, the AT&T Frame Creation System (purpose built to display NAPLPS graphics) and a VOTRAX speech synthesizer. Many lunchtime games were played on an Atari 800 (hacked with custom hardware). Later devices included the AT&T 4425 (with excellent keyboard) and 5620 bitmapped ("BLIT") terminal, and 3278 and 3279 block mode terminals connected to the IBM 4361 mainframe.

In 1986, two parallel efforts towards the next generation EIES system began.

The Tailorable Electronic Information Exchange System (TEIES) was written for the IBM VM operating system, under sponsorship of IBM Research (developed on an IBM 4361). The 4361 joined BITNET originally as node "NJITCCCC", later renamed to "ORION" and became the first full-time campus email and file server connection. A secondary project "pTIES" (Personal TEIES) was developed as an easy to use TEIES interface on personal computers. The TEIES project concluded in 1991.

EIES2 was written for the Unix operating system, under sponsorship of the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology, and operated in production until 1995 when the project closed (developed on an AT&T 3b10). EIES2 included an object-oriented store, and a hierarchal design for navigation of user content.

For further reading, see The Network Nation by Hiltz and Turoff, lab directors and principal investigators at CCCC.

Additional information is available at the EIES page on WikiWorld.