|A tribute to Willem Jan Muhring|
Willem Jan Muhring was the great initiator and stimulator of the National Computer Centre. His pioneering work gave the impulse to centralised, mechanised data processing for central government use in Holland.
In the fourties and fifties, Muhring was also one of the most prominent Dutch chess players. He has written countless articles about chess, a series of books with former World Champion Max Euwe, presented a Teleac TV series on the game and gave many simultaneous displays and lectures. The Max Euwe Centre in Amsterdam possesses a collection of 25 scrapbooks about Muhring.
Biography and career
Muhring introduced the five-day week in his office. In 1957, an experiment was started with an 'electronic administration machine' for the calculation of civil service salaries. Despite lukewarm enthusiasm of the national government, he sent his staff members already in the sixties to Paris and Munich for trial runs with computers, with convincing results. The first IBM 1410 card computer was installed in 1963, in a computer room which was hypermodern for that age.
In the following hectic years, the possibilities of the computer, of which Muhring had always been convinced, were finally noted. Muhring educated his own programmers and system analysts. The centre kept growing and kept up to date with the fast developments. In 1969, an annex in Apeldoorn was opened as a precursor of the accommodation at the Fauststraat 1. This first annex had a punch room and was used for system development and programming. On July 1st, 1970, the center was renamed RCC (National Computer Centre). In 1973, the RCC started to install terminals in the offices of customers. In 1975, the IBM 370/158 was extended into a multi-processing system.
Muhring the chess master
Euwe said that Muhring was probably the most difficult Dutch player for him to beat, because of his solid style. After presenting a Teleac chess series on TV, Muhring joined Euwe for daily analyses of the games in the famous Spassky-Fischer match of 1972, which was controversial in the chess world. With Euwe, Muhring wrote the series 'Zo leert u goed schaken' (The good way to learn chess'). Euwe maintained in an interview with the Apeldoorn master Frans Henneberke, who wrote a voluminous biography of Muhring in 1978, that their relationship was close and based on mutual respect.
Chess helped Muhring in the financially difficult pioneering days. As an international chess master, he earned money by writing many chess articles, in the Dutch newspapers Algemeen Dagblad, Provinciaals Noord-Brabants Dagblad, Brabant Pers and Trouw, in the magazines Het Binnenhof, Elseviers Weekblad, the periodical of the Dutch Post (PTT) and Het Torentje, the staff magazine at the Dutch Foreign Office. In his columns, Muhring touched on a wide range of chess subjects. Computer chess, of course, was prominent. But he also experimented with a training method where the pupil guesses the moves of a master game and is awarded points for each correct move. This method is still very popular nowadays. Top player and trainer Artur Yusupov recommended it a few months ago in a clinic for Dutch chess trainers in Apeldoorn.
Muhring was a man of many ideas and initiatives. He has made a great mark in the information branche and in Dutch chess life. That is why Connection1, current owner of the Information Room, has decided to grant a longtime wish of many employees at PinkRoccade, Roccade Megaplex and RCC before them, a proposal that his lifelong colleague J. van der Veen made to name the information room after Willem Jan Muhring.
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