NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact
Programming in
the 1960s: a
Personal History
Len Bass
NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact
I graduated college with a Bachelor’s degree
in Mathematics in 1964
• Two ...
NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact
Job workflow - submission
• Type up submission on cards
• Place job card w...
NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact
Fortran IBM card
NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact
026 Keypunch
NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact
Operator loads cards into card reader
NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact
IBM 7094 processes job
7
NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact
IBM Chain Printer prints output
NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact
Final portion of the workflow
• Operator takes cards and output, places th...
NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact
First Assignment – involved Legendre
Polynomials
• The formula involved co...
NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact
Consequence
• Debriefing meeting with my boss and my boss’
boss.
• Outcome...
NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact
1968 – I am off to graduate school at Purdue
• Purdue constructed new math...
NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact
IBM 360/67 was ~3 years late
• Purdue replaced their order with a CDC 6600
NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact
Why is this interesting?
• Mathematical Sciences building was designed to
...
NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact
My assistantship
• Systems programmer for the High Energy
Physics departme...
NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact
IBM 360/44
NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact
I learn to boot the machine
• I was shown how to boot the IBM 360/44
– Pus...
NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact
• Lights went out
• Bells went off
• There was a power failure at that mom...
NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact
IBM repairman as terrorist
• IBM performed weekly preventive maintenance
w...
NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact
Consequences
• Removing the intrusion alarm set off a silent
alarm at the ...
NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact
Me ~1980
NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact
The world has changed!!
22
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Programming in the 1960s

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A personal history of stories about being a programmer in the 1960s

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Programming in the 1960s

  1. 1. NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact Programming in the 1960s: a Personal History Len Bass
  2. 2. NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact I graduated college with a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics in 1964 • Two possible positions – Actuary – Computer programmer • Guess which one I took? • Prior computer experience – Saw a computer once on a tour – No knowledge of programming • I was given a thin book on Fortran II and told to learn it. • First program was copied out of the book. It didn’t work because the machine I used it on ran Fortran IV. 2
  3. 3. NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact Job workflow - submission • Type up submission on cards • Place job card with submission number in front of cards • Give cards to operator
  4. 4. NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact Fortran IBM card
  5. 5. NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact 026 Keypunch
  6. 6. NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact Operator loads cards into card reader
  7. 7. NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact IBM 7094 processes job 7
  8. 8. NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact IBM Chain Printer prints output
  9. 9. NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact Final portion of the workflow • Operator takes cards and output, places them into a box with submission number in front and places box in wooden frame • Elapsed time ~2-3 hours, typically.
  10. 10. NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact First Assignment – involved Legendre Polynomials • The formula involved computing N! / M! • It took me six weeks to debug with much wasted computer time. • Why? 7! overflowed when computed as an integer on a 36 bit word. • Recall I had a degree in mathematics – Factorials were integers. – Who ever heard of “overflow” 10
  11. 11. NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact Consequence • Debriefing meeting with my boss and my boss’ boss. • Outcome – my boss should have overseen me more closely. • It wasn’t my fault!! It was management’s fault. 11
  12. 12. NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact 1968 – I am off to graduate school at Purdue • Purdue constructed new mathematical sciences/computer sciences building – Completed in 1967 – Designed for IBM 360/67 in basement
  13. 13. NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact IBM 360/67 was ~3 years late • Purdue replaced their order with a CDC 6600
  14. 14. NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact Why is this interesting? • Mathematical Sciences building was designed to have an IBM 360/67 in the basement • Building was constructed with an external elevator shaft to take computer to the basement • CDC 6600 was two inches wider than the IBM 360/67 • Had to redig the elevator shaft!!
  15. 15. NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact My assistantship • Systems programmer for the High Energy Physics department • They had an IBM 360/44. What we would today call a RISC machine
  16. 16. NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact IBM 360/44
  17. 17. NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact I learn to boot the machine • I was shown how to boot the IBM 360/44 – Push blue button on lower right – Enter date/time on console • First time I did this …
  18. 18. NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact • Lights went out • Bells went off • There was a power failure at that moment
  19. 19. NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact IBM repairman as terrorist • IBM performed weekly preventive maintenance where card dust is vacuumed from inside the computer. • Involves removing the front panel of the console • Purdue installed intrusion alarms on all of the computers on campus including the High Energy Physics computer • The intrusion alarm prevented the repairman from removing the front panel. • So … he removed the intrusion alarm
  20. 20. NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact Consequences • Removing the intrusion alarm set off a silent alarm at the campus police state • Policemen in full riot gear and shotguns arrived at the computer. • … 20
  21. 21. NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact Me ~1980
  22. 22. NICTA Copyright 2012 From imagination to impact The world has changed!! 22

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