and…we have a winner!
If you had twitter when you were in school, there’s no “back when” about it!
There was no freaking internet when I was in school!
The first time I went to college (engineering school), they hadn’t even invented PCs yet; all our programming was done using punch cards.
Nursing school was a mid-life career change – Twitter and Facebook both became Things during that period. (And now you know the origins of my handle!)
Ha! I started on punch cards and coding sheets as well, original “machine code” until “graduating” to fortran and cobol! lol…
I kept all that stuff and my parents threw it out when they moved back to the UK a year after I did. Along with the box of original comics from the 70’s (Every 2000AD from the very beginning until ~1984) that would be worth thousands now…
I did BASIC and FORTRAN…engineers didn’t have to learn COBOL, that was for the business sorts!
When @timjedwards decided to major in computer science a few years later (it was only available as a minor when I was there) things had already advanced by light years. He never got to experience accidentally dropping his box of code on the way across campus to submit it for processing, and the horrible gut-wrenching feeling as it fluttered away in every direction! (The stupid punch machines were ALWAYS out of ink, so I got pretty good at sight-reading the punch holes for getting them back in order, but sometimes you just couldn’t find them all…)
Ha! We didn’t even have the machine. We had to code onto paper, and send away, come back next week to receive the output, insert correction slips, rinse, repeat…
I have no idea if I ever dropped a stack, but it would have been in the classroom…
BASIC wasn’t even known by my instructors, but you can bet I was excited when the ZX80 came along!
The high school I attended until my junior year was pretty progressive. I actually took a programming class there (1976-77!). We had 40-column cards that we hand-coded in graphite (which was actually the reason I could read the holes when I was in college). Down the hall was a room with a card reader, telephone, MODEM, and a printer on a stand over a box of sprocket-feed paper. You’d dial the number of the mainframe downtown on the phone, then stick the handset in the rubber cradle. stack your cards in the reader, and hit the button. They’d go kerthunk-kerthunk through the reader, and in a minute the printer over in the corner would start spewing paper.
Our class took place during the operator’s lunch break, so anyone unlucky enough to put the computer into an infinite loop had to endure the hostility of everyone else waiting in line to run their code, because there was nothing anyone could do until the guy got back from lunch and could be called to have him cancel the job at his end.
Since then, I’ve always had an irrational fear of infinite loops.
Right after I graduated, they added TRS-80s to the computer labs. The following summer I bought an IBM PCjr and used it to write computer games for my kids. I kept it going for quite a few years, tearing into it to add modifications and upgrades to let it run whatever the latest software was. It’s still in my parents’ attic – some day I’ll figure out how to get it here and see if it will still run.
I wrote a simple space invaders clone on the zx81 (assembly, 1k), and a basic asteroids simulator (just rocks and the space ship, no bullets or crashes) on the Spectrum (16k). I had to figure out how to do the required trig in raw machine code - which I did. That was the most rewarding part of it.
Neither of them had sound. I later designed and built an A/D and D/A converter, and wrote a sound wave manipulation program like Audacity. Ah, the nights of sleep I lost as a kid…
Holy off topic, batman!
Always loved that sense of accomplishment! @timjedwards and I wrote a program that animated a little turtle graphic (drawn in a pixel graphics drawing program he and our brother Jon wrote) and made it walk across the screen, bobbing its head up and down. Nothing compared to today’s stuff, but pretty cool for that time.
Most stuff I did was for my kids – to teach them ABCs, etc. Plus a program specifically for the PCjr (because it could use 2 joysticks at once) where the kids could make little worms crawl around the screen and eat apples, and see who could eat the most the fastest. Fun times!
Off topic? No such thing, around here! I have a theory about ADHD and creative people.
How come when I make signs with different fonts it looks like garbage but when you do it, it looks so perfect! Very nice.
The best programmer I’ve ever known thinks everyone should have to write programs on punch cards and debug with a teletype terminal for a couple years. She claims it is the best way to learn to not write bugs. Like when she discovered the phone company couldn’t bill a long-distance call that lasted over an hour; it just rolled over to one minute and started counting again. She did call them to report it, but I guess this was before bug bounty programs: they didn’t care. If her and her boyfriend couldn’t talk for over an hour, they’d set a timer, leave the line open and hang up the receiver at an hour and four minutes.
Of course she wrote a lot of life-essential code; never dreamed of getting rich with the next Tindr for goats.
Great idea! I think having to endure verbal abuse for creating infinite loops would be a good learning experience, too.
Remember the walk of shame when the data center guys would wheel in a cart or two of paper with one line per page printed on it because you put the wrong control code on the end of a line so it skipped down a page instead of a line?
I swear they did that for fun (or they were sleeping through the print run).
Argh! The memories! I had forgotten all about that.
Holy moly geek2nurse…we’re the same age! Actually I was a year ahead of you. We had a punch card machine “I heard we did” but I never knew anyone that used it or really what it was for at that time.
I discovered programming a few years later and as I could afford it, I took a couple of classes at the junior college. My work then paid for me to go to a tech school to get my programming certificate in BASIC, COBOL, FORTRAN and JCL and used a 300 BAUD dummy terminal with thermal paper to do my homework on it…absolutely loved it. The company I worked for got sold and moved out of State. Never got to break into programming as I was competing with college students with degrees, but had a few jobs that used the skills.
Years later…advance really far forward and I finally got “past” the obstacle in my way and went to college and graduated with an Associates and Bachelors in Network Communications Management — partway through a professor I knew stopped me on campus and asked me what I was doing in this degree program since he knew I had a programming brain – long story short, I was too far in my degree program to back out and start over from scratch (not enough financial aid). 2016 Graduated magna cum laude and that “obstacle” said I could never even complete college!
This month I started working on my Cisco CCNA Cyber Ops as my dream is to be a Threat Analyst or InfoSec Analyst aka Cyber Threat Analyst. Times a changing…and me along with it. Hopefully in another month or so I will have my cert and be able to start working in my career. <<<darn Glowforge needs to be turned down, it keeps hollaring at me through the duct work that it’s lonely while I’m trying to study>>>
Way to hang on to your dream! And yay for midlife college degrees–keeps your brain young!
Do tell … my kids have been greatly hinting that I am a bit on the ADHD side…well ok, a bit more than a byte…