<<SAVVY is a new level of machine intelligence>>

<<Through SAVVY, you and your computer talk to each other in your own natural conversational English [or Spanish, French, etc]>>

<<You'll discover that SAVVY recognises your personal words, even if misspelled, or even if you use a phrase never used before!>>

And it's an accounts receivable system. and comes with an expansion board.

I'm guessing... terrible voice-recognition?

October, 1982.



And as promised, the February 1984 Byte issue (alongside a tiny new system now lost to history which was also introduced, called Macintosh), had a review of the full Savvy system.

It wasn't voice recognition. I guess it was a database development system ("robot programmer") written in FORTH. A bit like dBASE II required, it shipped with a Z80 coprocessor board with the software in ROM.

archive.org/stream/byte-magazi mastodon.social/media/Od87D5MK mastodon.social/media/3t4eInHX mastodon.social/media/y_0cYX7U


PC Magazine, 5 Feb 1985, interviews Nelson Winkless, then 50. He claimed to have invented the phrase 'personal computer', which who knows, may well be true.



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It seems Excalibur and its technology lived on. (Hardly surprising with McDonnell-Douglas invested in it).


<<July 29, 2006
Convera aka Excalibur aka ConQuest

Once upon a time, more than a decade before the founding of Autonomy, a New Mexico inventor had the idea for a generic pattern recognition tool. He implemented it on a PC add-in board that, if I recall correctly, plugged into the Apple II. This was the genesis of the company Excalibur Technologies.>>

<<The Excalibur operation eventually moved north of San Diego, CA. And the company acquired ConQuest, makers of RetrievalWare, one of the original government-focused text search companies. And Allen & Company became major backers (presumably before the acquisition, but I don’t actually recall). There was some excitement in the mid-1990s, when extensible RDBMS were coming out, and at least two of Informix, IBM, and Oracle (I forget which two) seemed to be introducing Excalibur-based extensions.>>

<<That fizzled, however. Later there was a merger with an Intel image-retrieval operation, and a name change to Convera. That, it seems, was spectacularly unsuccessful, although I must admit that I wasn’t paying attention and hence missed, as it were, the spectacle.>>

"Government-focused", I assume means military/intelligence.


<<Now the company offers RetrievalWare, augmented by some pattern-matching technology – e.g., what they think is a better form of fuzzy word tokenization, and some color/shape/texture image matching as well. They also have introduced a web search product. (This is confusingly called Excalibur, but they told me last week that a much-needed rebranding is underway.) Maybe this strategy will be the one that finally works out for them.>>

<<edra on July 4th, 2008 5:48 pm

the company ahas failed to make a profit in its 20 year history….primarily due to bad management and poor strategic decisions….someobody keeps funding them and keeps their CEO despite this dreadful business histpry>>

Yeah, working for unspecified government agencies PROBABLY has a lot to do with 'not making a profit' on paper. And also with 'somebody keeping funding them'.

<< Peter Mantos on November 25th, 2008 10:45 pm

Yes, it did plug into an Apple II. I happened to be at a demonstation of the product in Albuquerque. As I recall, it was the harbinger of rendering software development obsolete. Programmers were soon to be a thing of the past.

That must have been roung 1980 something.

The reason I found your post is that I am looking for the SAVVY PC program. I happen to be resurrecting an RB5X robot from the same era. It uses and RCL (Robot control laguage) written in SAVVY that outputs a Tiny Basic program from higher level commands.

I am having one heck of a time finding references to the savvy software, never mind the software itself. Any pointers would be appreciated.>>

* tumbleweeds *

Oh here's Wikipedia on Convera, with more info.


<<Convera was formed in December 2000 by the merger of Intel's Interactive Services division and Excalibur Technologies Corporation. Until 2007, Convera's primary focus was the enterprise search market through its flagship product, RetrievalWare, which is widely used within the secure government sector in the United States, UK, Canada and a number of other countries. >>

<<Convera sold its enterprise search business to FAST Search & Transfer in August 2007 for $23 million, at which point RetrievalWare was officially retired.[2] Microsoft Corporation continues to maintain RetrievalWare for its existing customer base.

In February 2010, Convera Corporation merged with Firstlight ERA to become NTENT[1], bringing with it its web-scale semantic search engine.>>

So, um. When people say the USGOV has 'beyond state of art' tech, this is a glimpse at some of it.

"Widely used within the secure government sector".

That's not bad for a tiny company making a little 4K fuzzy pattern matching algorithm back in 1982, hmm?

<<Founded by Jim Dowe in February 1980,[3][4] Excalibur sought to exploit neural networks through its proprietary Adaptive Pattern Recognition Processing (APRP). In 1985, the Company entered into a multiyear research, development and royalty contract with Nikkei Information Systems Co., Ltd. ("NIS"), a Japanese company.[5]>>

Good lord, that's right out of Cyberpunk 2020.

<<For the Japanese market, Excalibur packaged the technology for broader adoption. Dowe presented TICOL: A Development Tool For Fifth Generation Programming Environments along with Mr. Toshi Arai of NIS[6] at the 1988 Forth Conference on Programming Environments. The conference was hosted by the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Rochester.[6]>>

.... WANT ....

<<In parallel, Excalibur demonstrated several successful applications of APRP pattern matching using multimedia data types (including text data, signal data, and video data) and packaged these as TRS, SRS and VRS targeted to US government agencies. One of those early applications of APRP for text retrieval proved that pattern matching search tolerated spelling variations and optical character recognition (OCR) processing errors over large volumes of scanned/OCR material.>>

<<Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) began distributing the Excalibur products in 1990.[7] Pat Condo represented DEC in the transaction and later joined Excalibur and began to package the technology behind the applications into a server-based offering.>>

<<In a December 3, 2004 article in The Washington Post, Condo disclosed the company's strategy to apply the technology built for the intelligence community to an advanced development project to index the Web.[12]>>

So... long story short...

Yes, that 1982 ad for Savvy was quite real. The technology worked as advertised. McDonnell-Douglas bought it. Other USGOV agencies were very happy with it. It grew and prospered. NSA is almost certainly using it to spy on you right now.


But, I still want my RB5X personal robot programmed in Forth.

The Washington Post 2004 link doesn't open for me, of course.


I guess it got deleted from the Matrix or something.

Like SAVVY before it, TICOL also seems to have vanished into the military-industrial vacuum cleaner of unclassified technology. So far the only reference I can find is the 1988 Rochester Forth Conference abstract.

I would *imagine* that TICOL was probably the foundation that the rest of Excalibur's profitable 'secure government search' tools were based on.

(why that would be shared with Japan I have NO idea, but *shrug*)



'Fifth Generation' was basically the 'Big Data' of its time, I think. A buzzword for 'searching really large databases of [REDACTED] really quickly'

More on Excalibur's tech, from 1997: it was being used in political campaigns for data analysis.


<< Mark Vernon
Tuesday 25 March 1997 00:02 GMT>>

<<While the general election will be the first to move on to the information superhighway, both Labour and the Conservatives are already cruising in the fast lane with their instant rebuttal computer systems. ... But whether it be in Westminster Central or Inverness East, there is one technology online - Excalibur.>>

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@natecull I thought it was a buzzword for "COBOL ripoff 'natural language' system aimed at databases" based on what I've read

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@wrenpile @natecull was that data warehouse the same project that failed so abysmally for various reasons?

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@a_breakin_glass @wrenpile quite possibly! It's probably a lot easier to sell stuff to mil/gov agencies than to make the stuff you sell work.

so many legacy formats that need to be connected, etc

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