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In Days of Old...


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#1 HydroLar

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Posted 06 November 2010 - 02:39 PM

Back in the 50's IBM was examining how well the first basic computer performed in World War II and thinking of devoting some resources to computer development. But they were skeptical because they thought that 1 or 2 computers would actually be enough for the world to use. But they went ahead with some development anyways.

These were the days way before the first PC when IBM was king and the mainframe computer ruled with IMS database structure and design, VSAM files along with the first use of 'paging', CICS, diskpacks, mass storage, HSM, TSO/ISPF, COBOL, BAL...and I could go on and on.

I was a computer programmer back then; a mainframe programmer coding COBOL and BAL as a Database Administrator (I got out after 25 years :thumbsup: to actually work with people at 1/4 the salary but 10 times the general happiness). When I first started as a programmer in 1983 I spent a good year typing my programs on keypunch machines producing one card per line of code to be read by a card reader and input to the mainframe.

And I saw the first PC's come out in the early 80's. We really did not know what these odd contraptions were good for until we discovered the ease of writing and printing documents. These IBM PC's had no disk drive, instead they used two floppy disks. One held DOS and the other stored the word processor and any documents you may have created.

Soon after the XT's appeared. These still had 1 or 2 floppy disk drives but used a 10 MB hard drive - I still remember coming into work, turning the XT on and going down for a cigarette and coffee while waiting for it to boot up. What followed were AT's which used high density floppies capable of more storage and then the PS/2's with increased hard drive and memory. The PS/2 actually broke the 640K barrier of RAM which was a huge accomplishment and considered by many to be impossible.

This was about the time Networks became operational in big business and Windows appeared and became widespread. Being a DOS man I resisted Windows for as long as possible until it eventually took over. Nowadays we are lightyears from that first PC we termed a '2-holer' and I'm sure that most of those reading this grew up with computers. Personally I've learned volumes of information and now run a few websites as a side business and, like everyone else, I deal with the constant Malware problem.

Is there anyone else out there that can remember 'the old days'?
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"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." - Marcus Aurelius

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#2 ltdave

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Posted 06 November 2010 - 03:52 PM

when i was in the Air Force (1985-1993) we had a Z100 (zenith?) that you had to start AFTER you put a DOS diskette in. then you could pull it out and use that drive for the program or for a storage diskette. there was a 2nd drive that we used for the program. spreadsheet, word processor, etc. i think we used something from Peachtree....

we also had an AT in the graphics shop (i was a graphic arts specialist and photographer) that we ran a dos based program called MicroGrafix by pansophic (i think)...

i dont remember what kind of hard drive it had in it but it was LOUD! we also had an 80mb bernoulli box which i guess was the precursor to the zip drives. both made by iomega. the disk for the BB was about the size of a 12" laptop...

is that 'old days' enough?

#3 HydroLar

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 01:15 PM

Putting in the DOS disk before turning the PC on...I had forgotten about that! What was nice about those PC's was the fact they were modular, all circuit boards were standard across 2-holers, XT's and AT's. All you really needed to do was plug it in and turn the computer on. At work I kept a box of spare PC parts under my desk for emergencies full of parallel and serial cards and some AST memory cards which I'd trade to the repair shop for memory or other choice parts.

That was about the time Norton debuted with a PC toolkit. Do you remember them?
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#4 Capn Easy

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 02:31 AM

My first experience with semi-modern microcomputers was in the early 70s. I was working on oil wells on the North Slope in Alaska when my company introduced some Altairs to monitor some well parameters. When the computer was first powered up it was blank, but would accept input from the front panel switches. We had a booklet of Bytes, in binary, that were programmed by setting the eight data switches and then throwing the register switch. Then I would enter the next byte, then the next. This was the "bootstrap" program (which gave rise to the term "booting up") that would program the computer to recognize and accept input from a tape drive. It took several minutes -- but seemed longer.

Unfortunately, power on those remote rigs came from the same diesels that ran the drill. When the drill hit resistance the diesels would strain, voltage would fluctuate ... and the computer came up blank and had to be reprogrammed again. From scratch.

I love keyboards and disk drives! :thumbsup:

Edited by Capn Easy, 09 November 2010 - 02:33 AM.


#5 s1lents0ul

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 07:19 AM

Haha the old days for me was when carrot top was still selling computers
==]--s1lents0ul-->

#6 FayB

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 05:22 PM

I started working as a programmer in 1969 writing code using the Autocoder language for an IBM 1401. Most of you probably have not heard of either. The machine had only 4K of memory- yes 4K not 4M and had only card read and punch and a printer. Not longer after I started work, they added tape drives and updated the memory to 16K. Did not really leave much more memory for our programs though since the IO for the tape drives consumed the extra memory. One of the major priorities was learning to write code that would fit into memory.

After that, I started programming in COBOL and ALC - for several different IBM computers - first one was IBM 360 them IMB 370 - can not remember the different ones after that. Used a number of different file systems from flat files to indxed sequential, IMS, DBS and others.

I was drug kicking and screaming into programming for the PC in 1997.


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#7 Blathnat

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 05:55 PM

My first introduction to things computerized was back in the 70's in a business office. The Boss, to the disgust of the office manager, hauled in something only referred to as "The Bookkeeping Machine." To this day, I don't know who made it or what it was actually called. It was about the size of your average piano, and banged and clattered so badly, that the office manager ordered up several sound dampening screens and buried it in the back corner.

It typed out invoices, ledger cards, and provided reams of paper, all of which I had to file, numerically, alphabetically, and by the yard. It also functioned as an alternate room heating device, which caused the operator to begin removing her clothing. We all regarded it with a deep, abiding suspicion, and the OM made us check its calculation of board measurement, in case it made a mistake. :woot:

#8 HydroLar

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 07:15 PM

I got to witness the first trial run of IBM's MSS (Mass Storage System) at our company in the early 80's. As the company relied more and more on computers, data storage and backup was becoming a problem and IBM's mass storage was brought in to provide a quick and convenient means of data storage and retrieval. It consisted of a robot that ran along tracks back and forth across a huge honeycombed wall unit in which small disks were inserted whenever archived data was accessed.

IBM had been under fire in the company for it's 'lack of testing'; once when assembler code for an MVS patch was supplied, the 2 line program got a compile error. So this little demonstration was meant to illustrate the efficiency and 'attention to detail' that was supposed to be characteristic of IBM.

The operator started up the mss robot which started flying back and forth across the honeycomb. He talked on and on about how great this new sysyem was and to illustate he stopped the robot in mid-run to simulate a system crash. Luckily there was a second robot ready to activate for such an emergency.

The second robot started up and sped down the honeycomb right into the stopped robot in an impressive crash. It seemed that the designers never thought of moving the first robot out of the way before starting up the emergency robot.
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#9 Blathnat

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 07:49 PM

"The more things change, the more they stay the same..." :hysterical:

#10 Bezukhov

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 08:34 AM

Some of you may want to start poking around in your attics, garages and cellars. Who knows what you will find?

Apple 1 up for auction - at $200,000

Edited by Bezukhov, 12 November 2010 - 08:34 AM.

To err is Human. To blame it on someone else is even more Human.

#11 ltdave

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 07:29 PM

i bought a commodore Plus/4 when i was in the Air Force because i wanted a computer for myself, at home...

i spent about 4 hours trying to type a program in (to subsequently save to a 15something disc drive). i goofed something up and got totally disgusted with it and i think i threw it in the garbage. i bought an Atari 256 from my NCOIC, put it on my kitchen table and then sold it about a month later for double what i paid for it...

thats all the other OLD DAYS experiences i have...

#12 ddeerrff

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 09:52 PM

Back in school, we had this big box that had modules that held a couple of 12AT7 tubes. Lots of those modules. Somewhere in the back there was this drum-like thing......

Later when I had a job, we had this 16 bit high end machines (I think DEC) that used large 16K core memory cards. To start it up you had to enter a short program via the front switchers, and then it booted from a linc tape drive.
Derfram
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#13 Bill253

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 11:08 PM

As a college freshman in 1975 my Chemistry professor introduced us to the computer terminals that were in the building. Hooked to a DEC PDP-11 these things had large rolls of 8 1/2 inch wide yellow paper for the output and a keyboard for the input. We would take quizes and do lab exercises on them. Then we learned the magic of the Star Trek game that could be played on them, it was great!

I still have a 7" floppy around here somewhere, along with an unopened box of 5 !/2 inch floppies. Maybe they'll be worth a fortune some day. :hysterical:

#14 killerx525

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Posted 03 April 2011 - 01:14 AM

All these wonderful experiences with early computers are really interesting, unfortunately i was never around those time, the oldest i've used is a Pentium II laptop.

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#15 Baltboy

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Posted 03 April 2011 - 11:08 PM

Had a commodore 64 as my first computer. My buddies father worked for IBM so they had the latest and greatest dual 5 1/4" floppies I think it was an 8086. We played a space exploration game which I think was on like 10 of those floppies. It actually had some really bad graphics....worse than the original asteriods but it was amazing then.
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