Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music, please!):
1) I am a slave to my computer - how about you. What is your computer history - what have you used, when did you get it, what did you do on it, etc.
* Tell us in your own blog post about your computer history, or in a comment on this post, or in posts on Facebook or Google+.
1) I started on computers at San Diego State University in about 1965 - with punch cards and FORTRAN programs for my engineering classes. I also had a slide rule that I used in math, engineering and science classes all through high school and college.
2) In my first paying job, I used an electronic four function calculator with a small screen to make calculations, but it didn't have a square root function so I had to do that with a short process.
3) When I started at Rohr in October 1967, the engineering group had developed some FORTRAN programs for analysis work, so I was able to use my programming skills and develop more analysis programs. We filled out coding sheets and sent them to the keypunch operators who sent us back a card deck, which we put together, put in a box with rubber bands around the punched cards, and carried them to the computer center. Every morning, we would go to the computer center to retrieve our card deck in the box (and hope the cards had not been scrambled) and the 11 x 17 printouts from the dot matrix printers. If the program failed, the printout included a core dump in hexadecimal numbers (base 16) so we could figure out where the program failed. We then revised the coding, got new punchcards, put the deck together, and submitted it again, hopefully by the end of the day.
Department secretaries transformed our handwritten pages into engineering reports on typewriters, which we then edited and redlined and they typed them again.
4) In the mid 1970s, we got keypunch machines in our work area, and punched cards ourselves. By the late 1970s, we had a card reader in our work area so we could submit jobs to the remote computer center without walking over to the center. We also had a printer in our work area that received the printouts. By the mid-70s, the first word processors were provided to the department secretaries so they had to edit the memos and reports.
5) In the early 1980s, Rohr got a VAX 11/780 computer system for engineering, and we got terminals in our work area to replace the punch cards, although some engineers still used the punchcards. On the terminals, we could create a FORTRAN program file, add control cards, and electronically submit our program and data deck to the remote computer. The printouts still came to our work area printer. Since the terminals had upper and lower case letters, and Greek letters, the some of the engineers typed the memos and reports on the terminals, printed them off, etc.
6) In February 1983, I bought an IBM 8086 PC with no hard drive, two 360 kb floppy drives, MS-DOS, and a dot matrix printer for about $3,000. I used the EasyWriter program for word processing at home, and wrote BASIC programs for my radio wave propagation hobby. I had this computer when I upgraded to a hard drive in the late 1980s, along with a 300 baud modem, and started my genealogy work in 1988 using Personal Ancestral File. I still had this setup in 1992 when I used the Prodigy network to connect with other researchers in their forums using the modem.
7) In 1994, I bought a 80386 PC, with a larger hard drive, 3.5 inch floppy drives, Windows 3.1, and Microsoft Works. I used this for the online services and email.
8) In 1998 I bought a Windows 95 PC with Microsoft Works and MSWord, with a zip drive, an internal modem and an inkjet printer, and started using the Internet for genealogy research on message boards and mailing lists. I bought Family Tree Maker Version 5 and transferred my genealogy database into that program.
9) I upgraded again in about 2004 when the previous computer crapped out, again upgrading to more RAM, faster CPU, Windows XP, CDROM, and a scanner and an inkjet printer. By now, we had cable modems. I bought a laptop in about 2002 so I could make genealogy presentations. I switched to RootsMagic in 2006 for my family tree program.
10) I upgraded again in 2010 when the 2004 desktop computer crapped out, and this is my current system with Windows 7, an all-in-one printer, DVD and CDROM drives, etc. I switched to Gmail as my email client in about 2011 because Thunderbird was so slow. I need a new desktop machine soon since this one is almost full and really slows down during the day often using 70-80% of the physical memory. I got a new laptop in 2012 with Windows 7. I work 8-12 hours a day on genealogy on my desktop computer.
That's my story in a nutshell - I'm sure it bored most readers.
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Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver
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