Monday, September 18, 2006
My nerd score
You can tell that I'm not much of a nerd, although my son (now 34) might dispute that.
When I hired on with C&P Telephone Company of Virginia in 1969, they were just completing conversion to a new computer-based language called "USOC" (Universal Service Order Code). Before that, a service representative might type "Black wall phone" on an order for service. Orders were transmitted from the Business Office to the Assignment Office (where cable pairs and central office equipment were assigned), then to the Central Office (where the wires were hooked up) via 5-channel paper tape. It was about 1 inch wide, and the machine punched it with a system of holes that were read by a tape reader. The reader transmitted the orders over a multi-point, hardwired network including terminals each Central Office. After the Business Office was notified that the work was complete, a completed order notice was sent to the Comptrollers in Richmond, which caused a series of punch cards to be created that represented the customer's account. Each month at billing time huge carts laden with these cards were rolled down to the computer room, which had a raised floor and special air conditioning. The mainframe, which I believe was an IBM 640, had an amazing 16Kb of memory.
I was programming linear and multivariate models in VM/CMS on mainframe terminals back in the late 1970s, using a Fortran-based language called Statlib, which meant "Bell System Statistical Computing Library."
In 1984 I purchased a Sinclair on which my son and I used to write little programs. Later that year I bought a PC-1, the original IBM PC with 64Kb of RAM that could be expanded to 640Kb. It cost about $4,000 including a dot-matrix printer.
I remember taking my son to a meeting of the Washington, DC Capitol PC Users' Group. There were less than 100 of us in attendance.
So I suppose I should get "honorary" nerd status. But then, maybe I'm really just a poser.