# The PF Twenty-Year+ Club

Gold Member
I got a really bad electric shock from one of those back in the day.
That's what happens when you put your fingers where they shouldn't be.

Mentor
That's what happens when you put your fingers where they shouldn't be.
Oh, so you weren't just typing then, okay now I get it. You had the back off of the machine and were trying to figure out how to make it run faster...

dlgoff
Gold Member
You had the back off of the machine and were trying to figure out how to make it run faster...
I don't remember why I had my fingers in it, but the shock memory is still clear.

Wrichik Basu and berkeman
Gold Member
I had an EE course where the instructor gave you a deck of cards that were intentionally out of order and we had to figure out what the program did.
That's clever.

dlgoff
Mentor
That's clever.
I would use a different adjective, which I would have to give myself an infraction for using here at PF...

Wrichik Basu, DrClaude and dlgoff
Staff Emeritus
You had the back off of the machine and were trying to figure out how to make it run faster
Look in The Hacker's Dictionary. The ritual for "go faster" was to wave your hands and chant "wugga wugga."

berkeman
Gold Member
You're even older if you remember this sound.

I think that is before my time. It sounds like a machine gun from a 1940s WW2 film!

The first printers I used were below these at Uni and after to the mid to late 90s.

Astronuc and Office_Shredder
Staff Emeritus
The first printers I used were below these at Uni and after to the mid to late 90s.
You would have loved the spectrum of mechanical monsters called line printers. A line printer prints a line at a time rather than a character at a time.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_printer
• Drum printers
• Chain (train) printers
• Bar printers
• Comb printers
• Wheel printers
Each had distinctive sounds, and in some cases ear protection would have been welcome.

My favorite was a light printer (using the blueprint process) used in the Saturn V project. I believe it was made by Anadex. It printed 20,000 LMP. Assuming 50 lines per page, that was 400 pages per minute, or 6.6 pages per second. Paper flew out so fast that it soared across the room. They used two of those printers to print the final status of Saturn V telemetry 90 seconds before launch. Each page went to one of 400 engineers. Each one was trained to interpret the data on one specific page. The go/no-go decision required 100% go from all those engineers. [That was the story I heard at the time from the GE Apollo Support Dept engineers. It has the hallmarks of urban legend or just plain BS; but I like the story anyhow.]

@jedishrfu , didn't GE have one of those printers in Schenectady where you worked? I seem to remember getting printed blueprint pages that smelled of ammonia.

Astronuc and pinball1970
Mentor
Not at our site, TIPO. We had online printers for simple jobs and MDS printers for offline printing. We did a lot of that from stock reports to paychecks to all sorts of engineering and multiform paper reports. We had decollators to remove the carbon paper between pages and bursters to break the paper at the perforated seams and strip the edge pinfeeds. We had stuffers to stuff paychecks into envelopes and procedures for everything. You cant lose a paycheck.

For critical docs like paychecks the check had a preprinted number from the printing company. The program that generated the checks had to know the starting number on the check paper and the operator had to carefully lineup the check number with what was going to be printed. One time someone goofed and we had to rerun the job and destroy the bad paychecks ie paper number didn't match the printed number.

We also had calcomp plotters for Turbine engineering drafts and papertape machines to print papertape for running the CNC tools.

The card readers had a unique vacuum sucking sound like star trek photon torpedoes.

Astronuc and anorlunda
Gold Member
I think that is before my time. It sounds like a machine gun from a 1940s WW2 film!

The first printers I used were below these at Uni and after to the mid to late 90s.

I've got one of those on my weather computer, but haven't used it for a couple years now.

pinball1970
Stop me if I've told this before...

In grad school we had 10 teletype terminals in the computer room. If they were all in use, you had to wait for an opening. Unless... unless you had a friend using one. In that case you could get your friend to type in "USER 6: Please sign out and report to Console Operator..."

Astronuc, pinball1970, jedishrfu and 3 others
Mentor
At GE, we had a programmer who would stand over you while you were using the keypunch machine. It was kind of creepy so we’d finish up fast to get out of there.

Another time, I was using the dept teletype which we shared with 8 other programmers, to do some programming and a coworker wanted it so he sat down at my desk and started eating my snack crackers.

I got even later when he interrupted me while talking to my boss making a snarky joke and I said why don’t you tell him about your stock picks. He used to check them online while at work and used the computer to do some analysis. His face turned red.

Astronuc and pinball1970
2022 Award
Talking of noisy devices, I take it you've seen these things:

dlgoff, pinball1970, anorlunda and 2 others
Gold Member
Talking of noisy devices, I take it you've seen these things:

1.08 The solo guy came in flat, there is always one!

dlgoff and Ibix
Gold Member
20 years is nuts. Just think about all the stuff you guys would have been discussing as it was actually happening. LHC switch on, LHC fail, Higgs discovery, faster than light neutrinos, LIGO. I am happy I was here for Webb. Luckily I bumped into a fella in the library about 6 years ago who told me about it, otherwise I would not have known till it launched as it had little media coverage here.
That was Astranut who I told to join pf, I didn't ask it was an order! I knew he would like it as he is a nature and aircraft enthusiast.

Astronuc, dlgoff and anorlunda
Hornbein
My mother programmed in machine language. The assembler had yet to be invented.

Astronuc, Wrichik Basu, gleem and 1 other person
Terminals were not available yet. You had to type carefully one mistake and start over. If you did not catch it you could lose up to 24 hours before you found out. Then there was the walk to the computer center hoping a card punch was available. The good old days with the beloved Univac 1107.

IBM 029 Card Punch. Not me,

Astronuc, dlgoff, pinball1970 and 2 others
Gold Member
My mother programmed in machine language. The assembler had yet to be invented.
Pfft. How hard can it be?

Astronuc, dlgoff, anorlunda and 1 other person
Staff Emeritus
Wait! Those things exist as commercial products.

The Twiddler is a one-hand chording keyboarding that has been around since at least 2004. It’s now on its third design iteration, which has been available since 2015. This is a handheld keyboard with four rows of 3 keys each. Each row of keys is operated by one of the typist’s four fingers. 12 of the 30 character codes can be typed using one key. For example, you type ‘A’ by pressing the left button on the top row, typically using your index finger. The remaining characters are typed using two keys simultaneously — e.g., ‘I’ requires pressing the right button on the top row and the left button on the 2nd row. Twiddler provides some tutorial software to help you learn and practice the codes. ... The website claims that the average person can type up to 30 wpm.

Gold Member
It's 1980 in this clip. Is this a teleprinter or just an electric typewriter?

Columbo had an electric typewriter in now you see me.1976. this looks similar.

If you don't want to watch the whole video the clips are at, 11,32,39,53 and 101 seconds.

Edit. The clip is

It's 1980 in this clip. Is this a teleprinter or just an electric typewriter?
Looks like an IBM Selectric typewriter which in the late '70 or early '80s (?) was used as a printer IIR. faster than TTY.

pinball1970 and dlgoff
Staff Emeritus
Is this a teleprinter or just an electric typewriter?
It was both. Several brands of electric typewriters were adapted to be driven by computers. Often, they retained the ability to use via the keyboard as well as via the computer port.

pinball1970 and dlgoff
Homework Helper
Gold Member
Late 80s or early 90s for me... I can remember that I had an account on Compuserve about 1990 back in the days when modems made a lot of beeps and peeps.
For PhysicsForums - I'm since 2017.

In the late '80s & early '90s I remember having Compuserve. I was also active on some BBS systems - enough to get a second phone line just for the modem. Around then, a friend of mine started his own BBS.

Staff Emeritus
Who remembers downloading pictures of pretty girls in ASCII HEX dump format, then using a local utility (???) to turn it into a picture?

DaveC426913
Gold Member
Who remembers downloading pictures of pretty girls in ASCII HEX dump format, then using a local utility (???) to turn it into a picture?
Man, the internet was the Wild West of FREE girlie pics!

Yep, We were livin' in the future!

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Astronuc and anorlunda
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
The clip is

I loved that show! LOL!

pinball1970
Homework Helper
i recall writing my first (maybe last) program in machine language for a univac mark I, and joined PF about 40 years later.

Mentor
The last serious piece of assembler code I wrote was in 1989 or thereabouts... My employer had a successful port of our Unix variant to the Motorola 88100, but to bring it up quickly we wrote strcpy and related functions in C as
Code:
while(*s1++ = *s2++);
and let the compiler take it from there.

Once the system was running I went back, looked at the pipeline structure of the microprocessor, and rewrote the byte copy routines in assembler with unrolled loops and picking up 32-bit words whenever possible (the 64-bit load/store instructions occupied two pipeline stages, so no benefit to using them). Several hundred lines of assembler to replace the single line of C code.... and one of only two times in my life that I coded a performance improvement that everyone could feel as the system booted.

berkeman and Astronuc