Columbia computer corporation puts inaugural hoopla planners on line HOWARD COUNTY BUSINESS

January 14, 1993|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

Chuck Sherman can't tell you much about what events are planned and which entertainers will appear during presidential inaugural week in Washington, but he knows all about the computer technology needed to coordinate the spectacles.

Mr. Sherman's company, Computer Solutions GSD Inc., has provided technical expertise since late November to help the Presidential Inaugural Committee set up a computer network allowing various planning groups to access information easily and communicate with each other via electronics.

Two computer technicians from the Columbia firm, Rick Blankman and Bob Vaeth, and Mr. Sherman have contributed 200 volunteer hours to the effort, estimated Mr. Sherman, the company's vice president and general manager.

The inauguration of President-elect Bill Clinton takes place Wednesday. Other inauguration activities are planned for the week. Groups coordinating media coverage, security, volunteers, transportation, parades, balls, accommodations and other details are using the computer network.

Inaugural committee volunteers have been working out of a warehouse-like building at the Washington Navy Yard, which has been outfitted since the November election with donated computer software and networking equipment from various companies. Computer Solutions GSD has helped construct the maze of computers, cables, printers, phones, facsimile machines and work stations into an integrated system.

"We're non-partisan," said Mr. Sherman. "We're more interested in technology than politics."

Mr. Sherman has helped connect more than 600 inauguration workers to an electronic mail system, which allows members of the system to send information to other members in a flash via computer. That's fairly routine work, he said. More impressively, Computer Solutions GSD helped establish 500 work stations in a network that allows users to share resources, such as printers and disc drives, Mr. Sherman said.

Caroline Sherman, president of Computer Solutions, marveled at how computer equipment and services companies, which typically are competing with each other in seeking bids, have cooperated to install the network.

"Now, with all the competitive bidding, you get locked out and you never get to see what happens," she said. "This was a unique learning experience, sharing ideas of technology.

"We weren't meeting the salesmen. We were meeting the people that make it work. These people are tightly guarded for their knowledge by the companies they work for."

Duncan Ritchie, a consultant leading the office automation effort, said a similar computer network installation undertaken by a corporation or government office would require nine months to two years to complete.

Mr. Sherman, 47, a North Dakota native, spent three years in the U.S. Army learning electronics and working on a missile system in Germany. He worked for about 13 years in computer repair and maintenance jobs on the West Coast and in Atlanta for International Business Machines, Boeing Airplane Co. and GTE Information Systems.

He later worked for WordPlex, a California computer company, where he trained people nationwide to use and sell personal computers. He moved to Columbia in 1984 after meeting Mrs. Sherman, his wife, at a computer trade show, and opened a WordPlex office in his home.

The couple formed Computer Solutions GSD in 1989. The five-employee company focuses on computer sales, training clients and designing and installing data bases and computer networks.

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