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AGGGHHH the dark ages

Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

You should google when the 'net came into being, or better yet, buy and read a history book of the 'net.

We wrote all sorts of business and engineering systems. Stuff that changed engineering and business forever. A lot of it was similar, we had dumb terminals in the mid-to-late 70s that talked to powerful servers. That was a ton like web applications running on browsers. With less eye-candy.

There is nothing new in 'the cloud' that wasn't engineered in the 60s and 70s. Other than perhaps there were better operating systems back then.
Ryan McGuire
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 18, 2005
Posts: 1013
    
    3
Maneesh Godbole wrote:So all you old timers, what kind of applications did you write with all these wonderful machines? I mean surely web applications were out of the question (was the net even available then?)


I'm not proud of it, but I recall thinking that HTML / HTTP was just an overblown fad and would never replace Gopher. I think that was back in '89. ...maybe.

I recall programming a Radio Shack TRS 80 back in the late 70s. The graphic "pixels" were each one sixth of a character, in a 2x3 pattern. i.e. The screen was 24 rows, 80 characters wide, or 72 rows of 160 pixels. You could either write a bit pattern to the correct character location to turn on some pattern of pixels, or you could "poke" some machine code into memory to address individual pixels.

Using that method I was able to create some rudimentary video games. On a more serious note, I wrote a program to track stats for our high school basketball team. It stored all the data from each game in a separate text file and could then go through all the files for the season and calculate some season-long stats. That was written over a TTY, yellow roll of paper terminal that was connected to the mainframe at the local state college via a 300 baud modem.


Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Ryan McGuire wrote: That was written over a TTY, yellow roll of paper terminal that was connected to the mainframe at the local state college via a 300 baud modem.


If it was a real TTY, it was 110 baud, not 300.
Ryan McGuire
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 18, 2005
Posts: 1013
    
    3
Pat Farrell wrote:If it was a real TTY, it was 110 baud, not 300.


You're probably right. I only mention 300 because that's the slowest I could imagine a terminal operating when I wrote that.
Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8883
    
    5
My first paid, computer gig:

- 80% "computer operator"
- 20% "junior programmer"

The "real" programmers would arrive in the "computer room" and hand me a printed "listing" of their program, a deck of holirith cards, and a loop of paper (more on that loop in a minute), and setup instructions.

I would use the instructions to do the following:

1 - Put the correct sized paper into the printer, and insert the paper control loop into the printer so that the printer would know how long the pieces of paper for this job would be.
2 - Find the correct hard-drive for the job. We had lots of these hard-drives. Their capacity was 10 megs. They each weighed about 15 pounds. They were the size and shape of an extra-large birthday cake, perhaps 15 inches in diameter and eight inches high. Once located, the hard-drive would be inserted into the hard-drive reading machine which was roughly the size and configuration of a top-loading washing machine.
3 - Find and load the correct data tape. Just like in the old James Bond movies, big rolls of reel-to-reel-looking tape for even more data capacity. The tape reading machines were about 6 feet tall.
4 - Load the deck of cards into the card reader (4 feet tall).
5 - "Run" the program.
6 - Collect the printed output from the printer and review the errors. If I could spot easy errors I would go the the holorith-card making machine (like a 300 pound desk with a crude typewriter built in), and create a few new holorith cards, and make the proper card insertions and deletions into the deck, and start again at step 4.
7 - Repeat as necessary, and then unload everything (hard-drives, tapes, printer loops...) and return the original package to the programmer, including the printed output.

My job was extra cool because some programmers would hand me "business-y" programs, like accounting stuff, written in Cobol, but sometimes I would get "engineering-y" programs written in Fortran! And the most cool of all were programs written in a custom language "CoGo" that did coordinate geometry problems.

As discussed in earlier posts, all of this was driven by 24k of "core" memory. We were once down for almost a week when we upgraded to 32k of core. Oh, I almost forgot, this all occurred with an IBM 1130. (Thanks to the "blog" of unnecessary quotes for inspiration.)


Spot false dilemmas now, ask me how!
(If you're not on the edge, you're taking up too much room.)
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Bert Bates wrote:The "real" programmers would arrive in the "computer room" and hand me a printed "listing" of their program, a deck of holirith cards, and a loop of paper (more on that loop in a minute), and setup instructions.


Minor nit alert, it is more properly hollerith cards, named for Herman Hollerith who invented them in the 1880s and 1890s. Note well, we are not talking about 30 years ago, we are talking about 130 years ago.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herman_Hollerith

They were based, in turn on an automated fabric loom invented in 1810 by Joseph Marie Jacquard.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacquard_loom

The Jacquard loom was such a huge improvement that it spawned the Luddite movement, where workers rose up and destroyed the looms because they feared that the technology would make them obsolete. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luddite
Wendy Gibbons
Bartender

Joined: Oct 21, 2008
Posts: 1107

Pat Farrell wrote:You should google when the 'net came into being, or better yet, buy and read a history book of the 'net.

We wrote all sorts of business and engineering systems. Stuff that changed engineering and business forever. A lot of it was similar, we had dumb terminals in the mid-to-late 70s that talked to powerful servers. That was a ton like web applications running on browsers. With less eye-candy.

There is nothing new in 'the cloud' that wasn't engineered in the 60s and 70s. Other than perhaps there were better operating systems back then.


a couple of years ago somebody was explaining the "new" exciting thing that was happening, it was only companies reniting time on other peoples computer to run their stuff, wasn't that called warehousing?
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Usually it was called timesharing.
Or a service bureau
sometimes out-house-computing.
Wendy Gibbons
Bartender

Joined: Oct 21, 2008
Posts: 1107

Pat Farrell wrote:Usually it was called timesharing.
Or a service bureau
sometimes out-house-computing.


bureau that was what I knew it as
 
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