a short reminisce

I heard a remark this weekend that caused me to reflect on some of the early days of my programming career. In my younger days when programs were written on coding sheets and given to data entry to be KEYPUNCHED I had an ability to concentrate and shutout outside annoyances that was perhaps a little better than most peoples. (Even if it seems like I have ADD today).

I was a fairly new employee at a large defense contractor, back in the days when most of us had private offices instead of a bull pen. My office was arranged with the desk facing the door and a work table behind. So one day I was sitting at my desk with my back to the door in full concentration on a program. When I finally turned around and faced my desk, my boss was calmly sitting in the visitor chair just watching me. Needless to say he scared the crap out me since I thought I was completely alone in the office. Thank goodness he had a sense of humor and just died laughing. He had opened the door, closed the door, walked across the TILE floor, no carpet, and sat down in a squeaky chair and I never knew it. I wish I had half that level of concentration today, but alas, those days are gone.

Oh for the days of IBM 1620s, 360s, Cobol, ALC (IBM Assembler) and when I could, PL/1. Thought we had hit the “new age” when we had monochrome (green on black) CRTs on our desk and could submit test runs without having to walk to the computer room.

Electronic computer, were it?
When ah were a lad…

It’s kinda hard to remember these days that computers can really do only 1 thing. They can tell the difference between a 1 and a 0.
But man can they do it FAST.

how many hours spent drilling punched cards … hate cobol!

And Cobol is still in use nowadays… I saw a Job Opening this past week asking for a Cobol developer (they even provide training !)


William, in 1992 at Palmanova near Udine ar 4th Regiment ‘Genova’ I was sergeant and was a programmer for the Italian army.
all’et di 11 anni ho imparato a programmare con un vecchio IBM XT
remember at this …

Massimiliano, sure I remember the XT. Our plant had a bunch of them with 3278 emulators so they could also act as a terminal to the mainframe.

One of the display on the crt looked like Lotus 1-2-3.

in 1992 I worked for General Dynamics in San Diego… I had the very FIRST IBM XT at the company, and we used it to emulate then 3270/3278 terminas for our Mainframe using a program called ATTACHMATE (I believe). We got it with a custom keyboard similar to what the 3278 termina itself had, but the Attachmate driver didn’t support it all. I managed to patch their driver to support all the keys properly, and then gave the code to the Vendor (don’t know what if anything they ever did with it).

Boy, compared to todays desktop computers that thing was so SLOW!

remember had slow computers, crank modem. printers seemed machine guns … but were not stressed.
When sending print command had the time for a coffee …
Now ???
did not improve anything, we’re just too stressed.

1992 I’ve already have had i386-DX with pure 25 Mhz and full 32Bit internal and external bus (not those 16bit crippled down SX versions) with Win3 and later Win 3.11 for Workgroups. But I have to admit my favorite system was GEOS Ensemble or PC-Geos back in this time but somehow Windows made the pace. My first XT was the Schneider EuroPC years before introduced in 1988. Its specs: 9.54 Mhz, 512KB RAM, Hercules Graphics, 12" amber monitor, DOS 3.0 and GW-BASIC though I used Turbo-Basic and its successor Power-Basic.

Slowness is relative: put a modern PC next to an XT, AT or i386. Turn power on simultaneously. Guess on which one you will be able to write a text first? In modern Office 2016 or Word 5.5? Or work in a spreadsheed? Modern Excel or Lotus123 or copy a file from A to B. I bet a pint beer that there is not a big difference in time.

this conversation reminded me of 300 baud modems, IBM 1403 line printers, Green Bar computer paper, core dumps (remember SOC 07s).

When I first went to the LHAAP Division of Thiokol, it was a very small programming staff. The others didn’t know how to read a core dump so the operators automatically canceled the dump. I knew how to read it and it took quite a effort to get the operators to let the dump print. I got called some interesting names because they didn’t want to waste the time or paper.,

reminds of the time I made a tiny typo in a print job JCL for our IBM system… the next day 36 cartons of paper arrived… with ONE LINE printed on each page! Officially, my boss read me the riot act… but he understood what happened, and we had scratch paper for years!

That also sounds like a missing channel punch on a 1403 control tape…

no… it was a missed JCL command (no tape) that put that was supposed to shift the body of document… If I recall, a non-blank i in the first column was a Page Eject, and since I left the proper command out. it didn’t shift the document, and EVERY line had a non-blank character in column 1… At least that is what I think it was… it was 30+ years ago…

When I worked in the Jurassic these were the tools
IBM s36 - s38 - AS400 - Iseries and RPG - RPG2 - RPGILE - MI(machine interface) languages…
HoneyWell DPS4 - DPS6 - DPS9 and cobol language…
So, finally, I saw the light, Mac Air and Xojo :slight_smile:

After I thought about it, a missing control tape punch results in the printer ejecting the entire box of paper. If you said skip to channel 2 and there was no punch in channel 2, it like an infinite loop - it just keeps going through paper looking for what’s not there.

[quote]When I worked in the Jurassic these were the tools
IBM s36 - s38 - AS400[/quote]

If that’s the Jurassic then I started when the universe was still primordial slime. Although 1620s and 1401s where mostly gone, we still ran some 1620 programs using an emulator on a System /360. Various models of 360s where the machine of choice when I got started. I used RPG a LITTLE bit, it has its place but I mostly hated it.

I get occasional emails for COBOL jobs on AS/400, Unisys and IBM mainframe. COBOL wasn’t my main language when I was consulting in that world (AS/400 RPG III-IV) but I previously had many years using it. Apparently these days there is such a lack of programmers for the language as us “Old Farts” either retire or die off that very few are around to address the billions of lines of COBOL code still in use.

I actually installed GNU COBOL on my Mac to play with occasionally just in case I feel like taking a nostalgic job.

About 10 years ago I did a short stint working on some Adabas/Natural before I joined up here.
They literally could not find any one and I hadnt touched it in probably 5 years.
Told them what I wanted for a rate and there wasnt even a blink.
And it was well above my “normal” rate - about 4x ($175 an hour)

COBOL is in that boat now too. Finding folks who know it and have a clue is getting increasingly hard.
Make your rate $200 an hour and have at it.

[quote=320707:@Norman Palardy]COBOL is in that boat now too. Finding folks who know it and have a clue is getting increasingly hard.
Make your rate $200 an hour and have at it.[/quote]
I’d double that rate.