Digital archaeology of the microcomputer, 1974-1994
cclist at sydex.com
Sat Jan 20 11:01:02 CST 2007
On 20 Jan 2007 at 12:09, Alexandre Souza wrote:
> Maybe not for you, but I'd love to. I have enough hardware knowledge to
> make it become a serial-feed keypunch
Wonderful. What would you do with the cards thus punched?
Cards are another thing about the old gear that I don't miss.
Undoubtedly, they were one of the things that kept programmer
productivity down. At 2000 cards per box, 10,000 statements took 5
boxes--and a very nervous trip down to the CPU room until the cards
could be written to tape---several times (Use several loadpoints on a
tape; use the first copy until the tape starts giving errors, whack
off the first loadpoint and use the second copy...). Having some
idiot (including yours truly) knock a box of cards to the floor or
watching the card reader going through a mulch-and-mangle cycle was
SO much fun.
People not raised on card methods really don't appreciate the
difficulties. When you're punching, you really can't see what you've
typed (on an 026/029 at least--some later keypunches buffered the
whole card up before punching) and mistakes are not reversible except
by repunching the entire card. A good memory and absoute accuracy
On the other hand, it was great that CDC Sunnyvale ops viewed used
cards as a nuisance. We had a bunch of volunteers who'd go around to
all of the waste paper-and-card bins outside of every sixpack every
evening and collect paper and cards for recycling to raise money for
the Sierra Club. It went wonderfully until the SC decided to give us
an achievement award for contributing something like $50K one year.
Other company activities clubs got wind of that and wanted a piece of
the pie. Unfortuantely, they couldn't get the dedicated volunteer
labor and the whole affair collapsed and was eventually turned over
to a paid employee, which didn't leave much money left over.
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