Jun 10 2013

PRISM – we had it first

I can exclusively reveal that the UK government had a PRISM database long before those upstarts in the USA.

In the late 1970s I worked in the Statistics Division of what was then the UK Civil Service Department. We used a database of Civil Service personnel called PRISM (Personnel Record Information System for Management). I used to interrogate the database (housed on an ICL 1904S at Chessington Computer Centre) using a SQL like language called PERL – PRISM Extraction and Retrieval Language (or perhaps, my memory isn’t what it used to be) PIRL – PRISM Information Retrieval Language.

To those worried about the new US version I can only say, don’t be. The database itself was crap and the interrogation language worse. I cannot believe that the NSA will have improved it that much. (Well, they may have boxes slightly faster than a 1904, but hey….)

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