RE: New Poll Question

Subject: RE: New Poll Question
From: "Simon North" <Simon -dot- North -at- quintiq -dot- com>
To: "Patricia Blount" <Patricia -dot- Blount -at- ca -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 2005 15:54:20 +0100

paper tape ... ah, happy days. They were great for decorating workspaces
for birthdays.

I started my CS degree in 1976. Though, to be more precise, CS wasn't
yet a true subject so my
degree was Mathematics, Statistics and Computing (I can still remember
my professor saying that
if he had a few brains you designed computers, if you were an idiot you
designed operating systems,
and if you were a moron you became a programmer. .... sometimes I
wonder if anything has changed
since then ... ;-) ).

It was an IBM 360 series mainframe on which my college time-shared.
Each class had a single password
and once your time was up, that was it. I think it took us about a week
to garner all the system passwords,
including a lot that we shouldn't even have known existed, and after
that we never ran out of quota. We did
come close to getting blown at one stage when one of discovered how to
crash the system intentionally.
Unfortunately, a lot of the local banking establishments relied on the
system so crashes were major events.

We wrote programs in Fortran on specially printed graph paper, one
character to each box. These were then
handed in for transcription to card. You checked your cards and then
submitted them for a run. The next day you
could pick up your printout and, if you asked for it, the tape of your
program.

My first assignment was a simple random number generator. I don't think
I ever got it right. My simple algorithm
used to run riot and spew out page after page of zeroes until the
operator intervened. Whenever I collected
the output I could swear I could hear giggles behind my back.

Only after you'd proven yourself were you allowed to log in to an
interactive terminal. As Patricia remembers,
a monster of a machine that would digest a whole line, cogitate and
then return a response. I remember our
first game was a golf program we wrote where you chose a club, entered
a swing strength and struck the ball.
The response would then tell you how far from the hole you still were
(a random within tight bounds, but we
often ended up 0 feet from the hole).

I still have a PDP 11/44 in my garage. It was given to me a few years
ago in return for a crate of beer. Original price,
about $500K. It has two 10 MB hard disks, each one takes 2 people to
shift. The CPU alone draws 4 kW and it takes
me, on average, about 2 days to re-boot.

Simon.

Quintiq Application Software BV
's Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
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