Lexikon's History of Computing

Old Time Computer Communication

A Reflection

By John Woodall

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In 1964, I communicated with an IBM 1401 mainframe via punched cards. Actually, I punched the cards and a grad student ran the deck. Took about a week to find that you had a syntax error. Took about 6 weeks to get a program that would run. Fortran II was the language of choice.

In 1967, I communicated with an IBM 1620 mainframe still using punch cards. Now I could run the deck myself-- if I came to the computer center after midnight. I could debug a program in a single night! Fortran II-D was the language.

In 1969, I communicated with an IBM 360 mainframe via teletype (twix). This was a quantum leap in programming speed! And no more punch cards. BASIC was the new language. This was a government installation and I had (almost) unlimited computer time.

In 1976, I communicated with Computer Associates Minis via Teletype and Perforated Paper Tape. This was an industrial environment and different levels of computing existed simultaneously in the same workshop.

In 1980 I communicated with Computer Automation equipment via a keyboard and 8 inch floppy disks! Finally a direct interface!

In 1982 I astounded my employer, (a facility of 900 employees), by producing the very first monthly report via personal computer. Armed with my income tax refund I had purchased an Apple IIe, an Apple ImageWriter Printer, Quark Word Juggler and PFS Graph.

My report was a thing of rare beauty. The facility manager vowed that ALL of his managers would submit reports in this format. This resulted in the purchase of several IBM PC systems for about $10,000 each. This included CPU, Monitor, Printer and software.

My communication with a computer was now immediate, personal and complete.

I had participated in the computer communication evolution, and I had made an impact in my small universe!


John Woodall can be contacted through Vintage Micros, Inc. (www.VintageMicros.com)
Vintage Micros Inc. specializes in vintage and obsolete hardware, software, manuals and related memorabilia including NeXT, Lisa, Apple II, Apple III, Macintosh.

Copyright © 1982-2002, Lexikon Services "History of Computing" ISBN 0-944601-78-2