Monday, September 18, 2006

My nerd score

I am nerdier than 28% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

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.


obxbill said...

Haha - no - I think that the test is configured to show how nerdy you are in today's nerd standards. I think they need a whole new category for you. Maybe "Old-School Nerd" would be more appropriate. As far as today's standards go, you're just too cool!! :)

RunAwayImagination said...

In olden days a dad might have taught his son to hunt, fish or farm. But when I raised you it was more relevant to experiment with the Sinclair and learn to program in Basic-A. Those experiences seemed a perfect fit to your way of seeing the world.

Now that I look back on those days, I'm proud of the way I helped you get a head start. Who could have foreseen the industry that was just getting off the ground back then? And who could have known that those early experiences could have paid off so well, so many years later?

I'm proud of US for being a good team together, even though it took a couple of decades for the seeds we sowed to bear fruit.

No father could be more proud of a son than I am of you.

Brigid272 said...

Hi, Runaway,
I saw your post on something about Nebraska and the RuJoDen Ranch and I'm pretty sure you're my second cousin. You mentioned your father being born in NE in 1914 and my mother was born there in 1918 and her father (who died in the 1918 flu epidemic) was brother to the "father" of the RuJoDen. And I think the sister of both of them was your grandmother. I also think my mother's met you at some time, either at a family reunion in NE or when you were on the road travelling around.
At any rate, I'm doing a lot of genealogy on both sides of my family and I understand that your father did quite a bit of research on his grandmother's line in Ireland. I have bits and pieces of it but rather than recreate the wheel, was wondering if you or another family member has more information. I'd also be happy to share the teeny bit I've found so far. I'm at Would love to connect! Thanks....

Anonymous said...

I believe you're a bit nerdier than that test revealed, runaway!

I think the lady in the comment above found your comment about RuJoDen Ranch on a blog post of mine. I had noticed that someone had come there from a search for RuJoDen Ranch, and had looked at the post a number of times. I hope you have an interesting time comparing notes with her.

RunAwayImagination said...

As my son said, I'm more of an "old-school nerd." lol

I responded to brigid272 and am anxiously awaiting her reply. It's a small world, isn't it?

I finally finished reading "Old Jules." It taught me a lot about the lives of those who first settled the panhandle of Nebraska.

I believe Brigid272 and I were descended from Dennis and Mary O'rourke, who settled near Gordon in the late 1800s. He died at age 40, leaving her to raise her four children by herself. Mary was my dad's grandmother, and from what I've heard she was an excellent horsewoman and a great cook too. After reading "Old Jules," I have a new appreciation for how tough she must have been to survive in that unforgiving land.

Thank you for helping me connect with one of my relatives.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's definitely a small world. A cousin's cousin recently made contact with me after seeing my name on a newsletter that we both subscribe to. It's been fun comparing notes with her.