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Turing's Cathedral

by jmlynesjr (Friar)
on Jun 01, 2013 at 15:51 UTC ( #1036467=perlmeditation: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

If you are interested in the history and people involved in the development of early stored-program computers, "Turing's Cathedral" by George Dyson is a good read.

Although I am a generation behind these early developments, I saw my share of paper tape, punched cards, and hand coded and toggled in machine language. Did you ever drop the center out of a large roll of paper tape? The "good ole days".

James

There's never enough time to do it right, but always enough time to do it over...

Comment on Turing's Cathedral
Re: Turing's Cathedral
by shmem (Canon) on Jun 01, 2013 at 22:43 UTC
    The "good ole days"

    ...are good just because we are not involved any more, and we made up with them ;-)

      I agree. But, it's still amazing how much could be done with a 1Mhz/16Kw minicomputer which back then was $100,000 USD and is now eclipsed by a $1 USD PIC chip.

      James

      There's never enough time to do it right, but always enough time to do it over...

Re: Turing's Cathedral
by sundialsvc4 (Abbot) on Jun 02, 2013 at 01:33 UTC

    Never did that to a roll of paper-tape, but I do belong to the “dropped an entire box of punched cards” club, and I remember what good confetti all those “holes” made at office parties . . .

      Did the card drop trick too! You can never get all of that card chad out of the carpet. :)

      James

      There's never enough time to do it right, but always enough time to do it over...

        jmlynesjr:

        I've always wondered why it was called "chad". At our school, we called them "withers". (Simply because I rescued a large manila envelope from the trash can of a teacher--Mr. Withers--and used it to hold all the paper tape waste. Since the manila envelope had his name on it, we named them withers.)

        I don't remember what happened to the envelope, it was probably just tossed, but I intended to use it as confetti on the last day of school or some such. (I'm really not certain why I was keeping them...)

        </good-ole-days-mode>

        ...roboticus

        When your only tool is a hammer, all problems look like your thumb.

Re: Turing's Cathedral
by BillKSmith (Chaplain) on Jul 03, 2013 at 22:44 UTC

    Did I ever drop the center out of a large roll of paper tape? Sure, more than once. Did you ever "patch" a program by scotch tapping chad back into selected holes and then copying the resulting tape? That once saved a week-long build cycle.

    Bill

      Yes! And we had pre-punched adhesive splices for when the reader mangled a tape. Also had a small manual punch that would allow punching one hole at a time. The expensive mylar tape was reserved for the critical programs. I once spent 24 hours straight reloading a fixed head disk from fanfold paper tape. Then it was discovered that the tapes weren't the most current versions. One system function was never recovered. This brought on the installation of 800bpi magnetic tape drives at about $10k each.

      James

      There's never enough time to do it right, but always enough time to do it over...

        OK, I admit it. I left out the part about the splicing tape and hole punch.

        I think I could still find the inspection gauge for checking perferated tapes for hole size, spacing and registration.

        Bill

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