Musings on Ancient Computing

Quoting to open new thread.

So, it’s to be war stories, is it? When I started work in 1978, all my programs were also on card decks. I worked on a Univac 494, a base 8 machine, and I can guarantee that those programs can no longer be run. :sunglasses:

Pah - I used an IBM 1130 at university back in 1969, and wrote a poetry-generating program in Fortran on punched cards. Thankfully, no trace of it remains…


I should bow out, 1969 wins. We didn’t have computers in elementary school back then.

But… learning basic using mark sense cards in junior high math class in 1972? Coding PL/I on green coding forms that went to the school district’s keypunch pool and then run, getting the output the next week?

How about the oldest machine? I worked on an antique Raytheon machine once. You started it up by entering some boot code using toggle switches, watching progress in binary on Nixie tubes, then fed it programs on paper tape that were stored on a huge drum device with a few K of storage. I wasn’t into audio at the time, so I didn’t think to check if it was built from tube flipflops. Being the size of a couple of refrigerators it was probably too small for that. :slight_smile:

We used to hack the keypunch control cards in the university’s keypunch room to ensnare the unwary.

Now I can deploy a service to fleets of hosts in datacenters around the world by clicking a button on a webpage and impact millions of customers. What a journey!


  • Eric
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Bah - A high level language. I, like all real programmers, programmed in assembler.

I was taking a degree in Electronic Engineering - I didn’t want to be a real programmer…:grin:

My Dad was an Industrial Chemist, I’ve still got his slide rule.

My earliest forays into computing were with a dual cassette (I know, right, the sheer unbridled power !) micro type circa 1978 but I left it alone for a few years and came back to it with the Amiga in the 80s. Learned C (still have my K&R) and did some Pascal. Never touched assembler.

Dad gave me some Honeywell comic calendars when I was young, and I remember being quite bemused by the terrible consequences that folding, mutilating or spindling could lead to.

Tech comics? Here’s the second version of the greatest hoax, the retroencabulator:


Me too! The only language for proper coders. And I used PIOCS rather than LIOCS.

Now seems like a good time/place to ask, “What the hell is your avatar?”. I’ve tried several times and can’t make it out.

I suspect these things are way after my time. I googled and didn’t get an answer. In short, what are they?

Take a long, hard look at the avatars of Roon staff around here, click on @andybob’s profile so the icon enlarges and suddenly it all makes sense…

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You, I understand, it’s Magritte. All I can see on the other is that it’s a jellyfish on its side, because the Roon icon sort of looks like a jellyfish? OKay.

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’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

I’m not saying fake jellyfish don’t have their place. Some people might be quite content with synthetic jellyfish, and the world needs people like that, bless their hearts. It’s just a question of what you’re prepared to settle for really.

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Real jellyfish are way more analog.

Physical Input Output Control System rather than Logical Input Output Control System. Basically writing your own channel programs to interface with the hardware devices rather than making calls to the OS to do so. I worked as a Systems Programmer on IBM mainframe systems from about 1977 to 1990 when I moved totally into management roles. TBH I enjoyed my techie days most.

Couldn’t agree more I had to follow the same career path. I hugged the machine for 15 years, but I never heard of PIOCS etc. Are you English/European, maybe that’s why it’s different buzz phrases?

Oh well, enough nostalgia for me.

I am from New Zealand although I spent ten years working in London. See here for some info

OK, System 360 was a little before my time. That would be before MVS which is where I started. System 360 was before relocatable loaders and multitasking, and you had to tell at link time whether you were going to run in the upper or lower partition, right? That’s what I learned on. Long time ago.

Really in the weeds here. :laughing:

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