Management Science Associates

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This page started on 10 Nov 2013 and will be under construction for a while.

After I graduated from Carnegie-Mellon University in June of 1970, I had 9 months before I had to report for duty in the US Army.

I got a job with Manangment Science Associates (MSA) in Pittsburgh doing one of the most interesting jobs that I ever had. I was a PDP-8 programmer for the scoreboard at the newly built Three Rivers Stadium.

At the time I started with them, they had offices on the second floor of an office building on the Pittsburgh North Side. Sometime while I was working there, they moved to the Shadyside section of Pittsburgh, on Centre Ave which is between 5th and Baum (info from Dave Vavra)..

MSA is apparently still around look at : .

The main contractor for the computer system was Stewart-Warner Electronics out of Chicago. In the 1970's they did the scoreboards for about a dozen stadiums.

A used opening day ticket stub from my parents. I bought the whole family tickets to this game.

I bought one for myself as well. I didn't have to use that one since I got in on an employee's pass. Many years ago, I gave that unused ticket to my cousin, Paul Frazzini. I wonder if its worth big bucks now?

In this highly retouched photo, found on the Internet, the bridge in the lower right was long gone by the time that the stadium opened. Of course now, the stadium itself is gone, having been replaced by Heinz Field in 2001.

The original scoreboard had a Gulf Oil logo on the left. This photo has a USS logo.
Mellon Bank on the right.

The 1970 National League Championship Series was a match-up between the East Division champion Pittsburgh Pirates and the West Division champion Cincinnati Reds. The Reds swept the Pirates three games to none and went on to lose the World Series to the Baltimore Orioles.

This was the first of ten NLCS series between 1970 and 1980 that featured either the Philadelphia Phillies or the Pittsburgh Pirates.[1][2] The only time neither team appeared in the NLCS during that period was in 1973.

Game 1

Saturday, October 3, 1970 at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Team              1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9   10     R     H    E
Cincinnati        0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     3     3     9     0
Pittsburgh        0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     8     0
WP: Gary Nolan (1-0)   LP: Dock Ellis (0-1)   Sv: Clay Carroll (1)

Cincinnati boasted dual heroes in subduing the Pirates in the opening game. Gary Nolan, an 18-game winner during the regular season, pitched nine shutout innings to edge Dock Ellis. Nolan departed for pinch-hitter Ty Cline in the 10th, which turned out to be a stroke of genius by Reds manager Sparky Anderson. Cline socked a triple to lead off the inning. He scored the decisive run on Pete Rose's single, and Lee May doubled to provide two insurance tallies, sealing Ellis' fate. Reliever Clay Carroll protected Nolan's victory by holding Pittsburgh hitless in the 10th.

Another key contributor was second baseman Tommy Helms. With Pirate runners on second and third inning, Dave Cash rifled a shot to Helms' right. Helms' diving stop and quick throw to first prevented two runs.

Date:    Tue, 18 Sep 2007 22:43:50 -0400
From:    David Vavra <>
Subject:    RE: Details on Website

Hi, Mark
Long time indeed!
I worked at a market research firm in Pittsburgh run by an ex-GSIA dean for a while and got to do some nifty things unrelated to market research like stadium scoreboards and the passenger signs for BART in San Francisco.

One of these days, I hope to start on a web page about our times at MSA in Pittsburgh and the work on the scoreboards and at BART.

Do you have any photos from that time? How about stories?

I still remember driving to Chicago in your Beetle with the open flame gasoline fired heater!

Hi, Mark

I don't have any photos from Chicago. We might find Joe Lividini (or am I thinking of someone else?) somewhere. He was into photography IIRC.

Yeah that Bug was something else. I would spend time in the SW parking lot practicing spinning it on ice. It was real touchy. Came in handy on one trip back to Pgh while I was on the Indiana Tpk. Glad I had practiced.

Remember that trip to Gino's in Chicago for that 9" cake pan deep dish pizza? I don't remember finishing it.

Yes, I remember the trip to Gino's. I had never been there before but I think one of the group had been. It was also the first time that I rode at the ground level at the Loop.

I also remember the all-night pizza place that we used to go to after our overnight shift at SW. We used to show up at 5-6AM to get a pizza.

I don't recognize the name Joe Lividini. Was he a SW person or from MSA. My mind is real fuzzy on who we worked with at MSA and at SW. Who was our boss at MSA? Besides Bob MacFarland, who else worked with us? How is your memory?

From: Mark DiVecchio
Sent: Saturday, December 21, 2013 8:04 PM
To: David A Vavra
Subject: RE: Scoreboard and BART


I remember the MSA office on the Northside and then they moved to Shadyside, I think on 5th Ave (but I'm pretty unclear about that).

Do you remember who our boss was? IIRC, he wrote the small real-time OS that ran the scoreboard and the passenger signs. I recall that we used an ISZ instruction to some low memory address to request the OS to do something for us.

I also can't remember how I got the job. Was it through you? I started there about May of 1970 and worked until April of 71 when I went into the Army.


Here is a link to an article about the BART system: warner%20electronics%20bart&f=false

MSA is still around:

Talks about Alfred A. Kuehn, the prof from GSIA who started the company.

I wish my memory were better...


MSA is in Tarentum now, eh? 50 years? I started working at MSA in 1968 or 1969 when it was still in Northside just down the street from the stadium which apparently isn't there anymore.

I went to Google street view of the Shadyside location. The place has certainly changed. I used to have an apartment across the street and that's gone. Mother's Lounge is still around the corner though. Last time I was there was in the late 70's maybe early 80's. Pete and his wife were still running the place. I wonder if they still are.
Speaking of BART, I wonder what they're running the signs with. I doubt they're still using the PDP-8. For all the trips I've taken to SF, I never once was in a BART station. I did see one of the signs in a movie though.

Hi Mark,

The Shadyside location was on Centre Ave which is between 5th and Baum.

The vice president was Pat Flannery and I don't remember the guy who was with us in Chicago. Bob Karg got MSA the job but there was another guy whose name I can't recall. He eventually quit and went to work for SWE on another scoreboard (St. Lois?) .

I don't recall getting you the job but I may have. I got mine through Tom Frank (one of the user consultants). Maybe you did too. I continued to work there until 73 then went back to school. The scoreboard and BART were the last control programs they did. There was a job for US Steel's Bessemer & Lake Erie railroad to do train consists. That used PDP-11's and was one of Bob Karg's deals. There was a whole bunch of ad and marketing software.

I can't remember any of the details of the BART code but I do remember we had a PDP-8i for the central office with 12K of memory, PDP-8e models for the stations and a whole bunch of modems and one sign in Chicago.

I looked up the Oak Park Arms. They have a website and a street photo. Looks just like it did 40+ years ago.


This is the PDP-8 IPL Boot tape. Saved lo these many years. Might come in handy someday.

The exact same system was used at Veteran's Stadium in Philadelphia. Here are some photos of the scoreboard there. I wrote the software that displayed these two particular screens. There were many other displays done by the other programmers.

These two photos were taken several years after we installed the scoreboards. I believe it was the 2nd game of the 1974 season which according to the Baseball Almanac was held on 7 April. Phillies lost 9-2 to the Mets. Veterans Stadium opened on 10 April 1971. I went to a game with Chuck Yonko and his family, we worked together at Burroughs at the time.

Lots of burned out light bulbs here. Someone was not maintaining the scoreboard very well.

When the stadum job was complete, we moved on to the passenger sign system for the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system in San Francisco. Programming  was on the PDP-8/i.

We had some of our own interesting names for this - the Passenger Information Sign System and the Frisco Area Rapid Transist system (look at the acronyms)..

Again, the main contractor for the computer system was Stewart-Warner. They had programmers who were working on the actual train control software (also done on PDP-8's). Then MSA had the subcontract to do the passenger information signs. That is what I worked on. This system was not mission critical as was the train control system.

The hardware existed in Chicago. We had to work there. The Stewart-Warner guys got the day and evening shifts. We got the MIDNIGHT shift. We would spend a couple of weeks in Chicago and get to come home for a week or so. This went on through the winter of 1970-71 - a great time to be in Chicago.

We stayed at the Oak Park Arms, a hotel in Oak Park, IL.

When we worked in Chicago, we needed these.

There is one of the passenger information signs.

Click on image for a readable version. This map shows the original early 1970's BART layout.
Shows also all of the station names.
From 1972 issue of the IEEE Spectrum.

Bad news on the door step:

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