POTD: Punch Card Memories

Punch Card Memories
Birmingham, Alabama

In my first computer programing course in college where I learned the FORTRAN language, allΒ  instructions were fed to the computer via punch cards. This method of entering data and program commands continued during my first foray in grad school where I spent many hours at punch card machines. I still have a few of those old data cards. I use them for bookmarks.

10 thoughts on “POTD: Punch Card Memories”

  1. They were also a good source of confetti! πŸ™‚

    When we were kids, my dad taught us to count in binary on our fingers. I can still do it, at least up to one hand’s worth! πŸ˜‰

  2. Great comparison. I’m wondering what kind of building that is with such an unusual window arrangement.

  3. Stephen+Johnson

    I kept my Fortran classbook “Fortran for Dummies” for a few years and a deck of cards that was my class project and subroutine MISTL on the USFS Vargen Inventory program circa 1979. That wasn’t bad as I had a high priority and would run in a few minutes. Worse, I had to run some economic simulations for a Forest Econ class at the university. I remember dark, snowy nights at the computer lab basement, waiting for my program to run at a student priority for what seemed hours. Then having to wait to correct my logic or poor typing on the two or three punch card machines with the other dull, tired, students trying to finish before 10:30 pm closing. Michele reminded me of the cut-throat proctors that would dump your card deck after it ran through the reader if you weren’t there to take possession immediately. Grad students were/are slaves…..

    1. I don’t remember any difficulties like that. During my FORTRAN class at Wichita State, you gave your cards to an operator who ran them for you. Worst I can think of is in grad school when I had to walk from the sociology department over to the computer center about a half mile away in 100 degree heat carrying two full boxes of punched data cards. Eventually they put a satellite reader in the student union which was only about half as far. By the time I left Arizona I was working on a DEC terminal only in the comfort of my air conditioned office.

  4. Stephen+Johnson

    Don’t think I was on a DEC terminal in our office until I was 3 or 4 years out of school, but since I was the only one who knew code and how to submit jobs, I was in a relatively cushy place….

    1. I was actually out of school but still working at the university on the same computer mainframe when I got a DEC terminal in my office.

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