RE: New Poll Question

Subject: RE: New Poll Question
From: "Blount, Patricia A" <Patricia -dot- Blount -at- ca -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 2005 09:22:12 -0500

Wow!

I'm on digest, so sitting here, reading all of you wax about the "good
ol' days" made me recall (not so fondly) my first exposure to computer
programming.

It was back in 1979 and I was a high school freshman. I couldn't even
tell you what kind of computer it was (memory's not that sharp), but it
was a mainframe. Dozens of us had to share three paper tape terminals to
produce the media required to run our programs on the mainframe.

Does anyone remember paper tape? It's a lot like a computer punch card.
You type out line after line of perfect FORTRAN code and the terminal
punches holes in a paper tape that is then fed into the mainframe to be
read, compiled and run. It had to be perfect. If you made a mistake that
was more than one character long, the entire strand had to be retyped.

I remember having to arrive at 7 AM just to get my turn at the terminal.
I'd been typing perfectly for nearly forty minutes. My strand of punched
paper tape had long since fallen from the little catcher dangling from
the rear of the terminal and had curled on the floor around my feet.

Just as I finished typing the last line of code, someone opened the door
to the terminal room. The door caught the strand of tape and tore it! I
cried.

Carbon paper, you say? I recall it fondly. It was the perfect mechanism
for taking two sets of notes during class - one in my notebook and the
other for an injured friend, whose injury prevented her from taking her
own notes.

Non-reproducing blue pens? Remember them well. What's funny is that even
printers no longer know the distinction between recto and verso pages. I
learned to type on an old manual typewriter and thought the IBM
Selectric with the ball instead of keys was nothing short of a miracle
device. You should have seen me when an employer introduced me to the
Xerox Memorywriter. I thought I'd died and gone to tech heaven. And of
course! Who could forget their first foray into the world of computers
with Commodore's VIC 20 and its whopping 3K of RAM. Why, it even
predates the C64.

I just had my fortieth birthday. It's official. I am now old.


Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Hannukah, and Happy Kwaanza to
all.

Patty Blount
(Who believes firmly in calling things what they are)
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