Notes on EL history from Aharon Rivlin….


When I came to Aleph-Yissum, beginning of Jan. 1990, the running version of ALEPH was 2.3, based on VMS and RMS of Digital. A previous version worked on CDC mainframe, and a partial version (catalogue and circulation) was derived for PC.

I can remember Natan and me upgrading the municipal library of Natanya to 2.3, carrying tape or TK50 cassette.  (In the office we had only TK50, and if we needed a tape version, we copied it in the Medic Library of Hadassa Hospital).

At the same time, Yohanan was working on 2.4, and on the conversion to Unix.

I do not remember if 2.5 worked on Unix or not. Anyway, the version after 2.5 was 3.25, and I made the 1st upgrade from 2.4, in Pizza with Luciano.  I can find the exact year but it should be 1993-4.

At this point, (1995?), the usual ALEPH was called ALEPH300, a usual server system. An effort was made to add web-server and client/server to ALEPH300, (to  be ALEPH400?) but there were too many changes so it was decided on a complete new version, ALEPH500.

The ALEPH500 was written as a new platform with web server system for users, and a client/server system for the librarians.




                  Ex Libris Staff (1980-2005) Questionnaire  --  Aharon Rivlin


1.       When did you start working for Ex Libris?   How did this come about?         [A] Jan. 1st 1990   

2.       What was your job title, or, more generally, what did you do?    Were there particular projects you were involved in?             [A] I entered as employee number 006, working with Natan and Jeff as support team. No formal relations, reminding HP garage?   

   Thinking of the 1980-2005 time period…. 


3.       Why was Ex Libris as successful as it was?  Why did customers go with Aleph rather than other systems?   Some possibilities:

a.       Superior system and program design?  (-- primarily Yohanan’s doing?  Others?)     [A] main reason

b.      Superior functional design?  (-- primarily Judy Levi’s doing? Others?)      [A] main reason

c.       Superior strategy (Oren Beit-Arie -- and others?)

d.      Superior marketing (Barbara Radel, et al.)

e.      Superior organization (Azriel and Udi and ???)

f.        Other?        [A] Not to reduce the other reasons importance, but I consider them first/


4.       Who were Ex Libris’ main competitors?      [A] no one in Israel, were there is high need for bi-language, bi-directional systems   


5.       I think that two decisions – perhaps just coincidence or luck – were very important: 

a.       the use of the MARC standard – absolutely critical to success in North America (and the UK?), perhaps less so in Europe?

   [A] I would say, that ALEPH system was flexible enough to work with any standard or non-standard codes set. Indeed, in North America the standard was critical but ALEPH500 was ready to treat any set.

b.      the early use of Unicode, the ability to handle multiple languages and scripts – Hebrew and English from the first and, very early, Danish/German/Italian – laying the groundwork for making Aleph a system which could be implemented in virtually any language

   [A]  Again, I would say that the Unicode use in ALEPH500, entered an open door. That, because of the pre-Unicode period in Israel

when many bi-* problems were discussed and solved in ALEPH200 and 300.    

c.       Others?


6.       Comments on the role of user groups (ICAU, NAAUG, SMUG, etc.)?      [A] not familiar enough


7.       Were there particularly interesting/valuable customers that you remember?  

   [A] Harvard University, and the Australian Consortium when upgrading from a special 15 version,  to version 500-16

Also the 1st translation of the web screens to Hebrew in ALEPH500 version 14.2.


8.       Were there modules which you felt were particularly good, distinguishing Aleph from other vendors’ versions of the same module?

   [A] not familiar enough, BUT in ALEPH, the most trouble maker module was the Acquisition.  It was the most complicated, less used and quite heavy for support.


9.       It seems that, with ALEPH 500, the choice of a Linux / Oracle environment was important -- but maybe most of the competitors’ products also operated in this environment?      [A] well, it is more easy to go with the whole world then against it.


10.   Are there particular interesting, fun, or odd things that you remember?       [A] 23 years is a long time to collect anecdotes,


11.   When and why did you leave?       [A] I left by Dec. 31, 2012 after 23 years in the support team, doing various of roles, because of health  reasons.