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Old 10-27-2014, 09:20 AM   #41
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My first experience was coding Fortran in college circa 1972. Waiting overnight for the error list was a PITA. My next foray was a Timex Sinclair sometime around 1980. 2M of RAM IIRC, with programs stored on a cassette tape recorder, and display on a TV. It was fun. After that I ignored the damn things at home and used them strictly at work until late 1993 when I get interested in the Internet. Then I bought a PC and bought an online Unix shell account. Then pseudo SLIP, then installing a TCP/IP stack and the Cello Browser. By mid 94 I had built a family website on the Unix site and was hooked.
How quickly we forget what computers were really like. I said my Sinclair had 2M of RAM. That was actually 2K. Not enough for a page of text.
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Old 10-27-2014, 09:25 AM   #42
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How quickly we forget what computers were really like. I said my Sinclair had 2M of RAM. That was actually 2K. Not enough for a page of text.
I used to check out each issue of Popular Electronics magazine to see if the price of the Timex Sinclair computer dropped down.
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Old 10-27-2014, 09:35 AM   #43
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The Science hall was adjacent to the library and both buildings had both men's and women's rest rooms. The chemistry and physics professors decided to gut the women's rest room in the science building and put the computer in there.
Wow. Thanks for the reminder of the Bad Old Days. Another thing to tell younger women when they claim they're "not feminists". I think a lot of them don't know how it really was back then.
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Old 10-27-2014, 09:42 AM   #44
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My first exposure was in college in 74-75. My first language was Fortran utilizing the universities mainframe(s). We typed out punchcards and submitted them, results came hours later. So if you made even the slightest mistake, you had to replace the erroneous code/card(s) and resubmit.

[I've shared this on similar threads here before] My first computer of my own was an Osborne 1 in 81-82, I only knew a handful of other people who had their own computers back then. We also had the original IBM PC's at work, though they were shared among an office of 16 people - fortunately most people weren't interested in learning, so I had good access, mostly competing for time with only those about my age.

I began studying engineering in college in 1972 with an inexpensive plastic slide rule, (mechanical) pencil and paper. Calculators didn't become readily available until my Sophomore year when some (rich) students started showing up in class with the Bowmar Brain - a 4 function calculator that then cost $150 IIRC. Needing more than 4-functions in engineering, I stayed with my plastic sliderule until the far more capable TI SR-50 came out in 1974, $180 IIRC.

Memories indeed...
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File Type: jpg SR.jpg (336.2 KB, 4 views)
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Old 10-27-2014, 09:43 AM   #45
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Yep. The USAF sent a team out to our 8 person office to install the first computer there and show us how to use the software. It was a Zenith Z-150 (8086-based machine) with a removable hard drive platter--10 MB. I figured we'd NEVER fill up 10 Megabytes. It came with a big daisywheel printer (for good-looking letters/fitness reports, etc) and a big high-speed dot matrix printer. Anyway, he told us someday we wouldn't have to share a computer, that they'd be on every desk. Crazy--why would we need that? And where would we fit them all in our office? We'd have to get rid of the ashtrays to make room. No way.
The USAF station I worked at received the message that Zenith computers would be supplied and wanted to know how many we needed. My boss replied that we didn't know what we would do with a PC. USAF responded that we had to take at least 1. We got a Z-150 with enough manuals to fill an 8 foot book shelf and a Diablo daisy wheel printer that must have weighed close to 50 pounds.
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Old 10-27-2014, 09:58 AM   #46
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When Cavalier Air Force Station was built it was part of the first ABM system that President Nixon announced. The main computer was amazing. It was called Central Logic and Control (CLC) and was the world's first multiprocessor computer. It consisted of about 50 cabinets that were 4 feet square and 10 feet tall. Each of the 7 processors were a separate box and the Program Store and Variable Store were also separate. The whole system, including languages, was designed specifically for the Safeguard ABM system. It was a system built by IBM, CDC, and Unisys.

Safeguard was operational for about 2 days then cancelled. The only remaining part is the Perimeter Acquisition Radar (PAR) at Cavalier AFS. Here is a link to more info on Safeguard.
http://srmsc.org/pdf/M115.pdf
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Old 10-27-2014, 10:07 AM   #47
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One of my first programming assignments in college was to write a program using PDP-8 assembly language, convert by hand to machine language, then input the program using the switches on the front of the machine. If I recall correctly, there was a set of switches for the memory address, and another set for the data. Set both of these then hit yet another switch to store the data at that address. One of my best learning experiences ever.
I had to do the same thing in one of my CS classes in college. We did have an advantage in that the computer had an autoincrement switch, so once I tabbed in the initial address, the computer calculated the address for the next statements. The professor told us after doing it manually, we would appreciate using the assembler in the other assignments.
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Old 10-27-2014, 10:12 AM   #48
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People were able to do amazing things with primitive computers back then. The Apollos, ICBMs, and even the Space Shuttle flew with these. The limited memory capacity and speed mandated some clever programming.

Young programmers tend to turn out bloatware. They should be able to practice LBYM in programming as they have so much at their disposal, but instead they squander all these bits and bytes and CPU cycles.
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Old 10-27-2014, 11:18 AM   #49
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Midpack's post reminds me that my slide rule is on display in the antique equipment exhibit at my former workplace. I need to go snag that. I still use my HP48gx (ca1990), but I have to remember that it's rpn. Used to use it at work with the land survey chip.
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Old 10-27-2014, 11:45 AM   #50
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[I've shared this on similar threads here before] My first computer of my own was an Osborne 1 in 81-82, I only knew a handful of other people who had their own computers back then.
That prompted a work memory. My agency opened the Microcomputer User Support Center (MUSC) back in the 80s dark ages to try out some of these new fangled things. Interested employees submitted proposals for projects they would implement with them and 20 were accepted. I proposed to build a database of disciplinary actions taken across the agency and then do some analyses of status, trends etc. I was selected to particpate and given a dual drive Osborne similar to the one in your picture. I can't remember much about it other than CPM was the operating system and DBase was the program I used to construct my database. The whole project was fun but not particularly valuable.
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Old 10-27-2014, 11:50 AM   #51
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Remember the glossy brochures.?

Always had an attractive women in the computer room and not one cable to be seen anywhere.
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Old 10-27-2014, 11:52 AM   #52
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We used to have a saying. Twenty year old computers went to the Boston Computer Museum. Twenty year old batch programs went into production every night.
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Old 10-27-2014, 12:02 PM   #53
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Yes, my first manual computer was an abacus ,
Let me list all the reasons why abacus is the way to go.

- No IT personnel required.
- It will keep your mind sharp.
- It will sharpen your finger-eye coordination. Build finger muscle needed for TV remotes.
- It never needs to be updated.
- It needs no battery, power outlet, solar panel, ...
- It's durable. Try dropping a PC from 3 feet high and see if it still works.
- Some comes in a size you can wield to stave off an unwanted computer geek.
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Old 10-27-2014, 12:05 PM   #54
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People were able to do amazing things with primitive computers back then. The Apollos, ICBMs, and even the Space Shuttle flew with these. The limited memory capacity and speed mandated some clever programming.

Young programmers tend to turn out bloatware. They should be able to practice LBYM in programming as they have so much at their disposal, but instead they squander all these bits and bytes and CPU cycles.

x 10.
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Old 10-27-2014, 12:12 PM   #55
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One of my first programming assignments in college was to write a program using PDP-8 assembly language, convert by hand to machine language, then input the program using the switches on the front of the machine. If I recall correctly, there was a set of switches for the memory address, and another set for the data. Set both of these then hit yet another switch to store the data at that address. One of my best learning experiences ever.
If you wanted to, you could build the computer and repeat the assignment:

https://www.grc.com/pdp-8/pdp-8.htm
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Old 10-27-2014, 12:26 PM   #56
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I first learned machine language programming (not even assembly!) on an Intersil 6100 chip, which was a dual source of the Harris chip described in the above link.
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Old 10-27-2014, 12:54 PM   #57
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My first computer of my own was an Osborne 1 in 81-82, I only knew a handful of other people who had their own computers back then.
One of my favorite stories:
In 1984, I w*rked with a guy who had recently bought not one, but two Osborne II computers. He was so impressed with it that he expected it to be his personal computer for the rest of his life (he was in his 40s at the time). The second one was for spare parts so he could always keep the primary one in working order.
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Old 10-27-2014, 01:25 PM   #58
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Oh man! I remember we all chuckled when seeing that Osborne computer. Wow, a portable machine running CP/M, instead of a S-100 bus chassis. We were too busy drooling we did not notice the front of our shirts was all wet.

The arrival of the IBM PC with a better CPU quickly put a demise to all CP/M machines. Companies went under overnight. Money comes, money goes.
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Old 10-27-2014, 04:41 PM   #59
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I remember BASIC, and dropping a stack of punched cards that I had failed to number. Everyone did the card drop - once. Those punched cards made nice Christmas wreaths, remember?
Now that's a memory. Those things were everywhere!
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Old 10-27-2014, 05:15 PM   #60
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We used to have a saying. Twenty year old computers went to the Boston Computer Museum. Twenty year old batch programs went into production every night.
+1! I remember writing programs in the early 1980s and doing so in a way that would be Y2K compliant. Everyone else on the team thought I was nuts, but I reminded them we were still maintaining programs from the 1960s

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I remember BASIC, and dropping a stack of punched cards that I had failed to number. Everyone did the card drop - once. Those punched cards made nice Christmas wreaths, remember?
For those of you too young to remember - here's a picture if you aren't close enough to see it yourself at the Computer History Museum
Punched card wreath | 102667304 | Computer History Museum
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