Friday, December 3, 2010

Once upon a time...

... in a galaxy far, far away...

My first real paying job (a summer job, but it DID pay) was coding FORTRAN... using Hollerith cards.

Type up the program & data cards. Submit to computer center. Come back next day to pick up print-out of results.

I'm remembering this as I try to deal with my VERY SLOW back-up computer while primary computer is in the shop for rebuild.
This dinosaur likely has 10 times the computing power of the air-conditioned mainframe on which those FORTRAN jobs ran. The mainframe consumed a VERY LARGE air-conditioned room.

For what it's worth: I made extra $$$ in graduate school as a key-punch guy. Typing programs on Hollerith cards. I was pretty proficient.

Just for fun: Hollerith cards (aka, "IBM cards") were sized the way they were 'cuz this was the size of a 1900 U.S. dollar bill. The automated equipment existed to handle dollar bills, so when IBM got into the computing business they wisely decided to size the punch-cards so's existing equipment could handle 'em.

(All this said: I'm still amazingly frustrated with my VERY SLOW backup computer!)

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it amazing? In our lifetime,IT has changed so fast. I have a steel tape, preceding magnetic. I've heard tell, when the steel tape developed a crease or some sort of problem, the technician would punch a hole before and after. The drive would skip from hole to hole. And now I complain about slow downloads.