# Thread: Back when I went to school...

1. I was already in college taking Physics 101 when some kid showed off his \$400 HP calculator. We were duly impressed.
I recall inputting "2", [ENTER], "2", [x] -- that's "2 times 2" in Polish, or something like that -- and getting 3.99999. Some primitive kind of chip, I guess.

2. Of course, there is that story of the kid using the slide rule.

"Two times (slides the thing) three is ... (squints) five point ... (squints some more) nine ... (more eyestrain) nine ... ah, nuts, let's call it six!"

3. Originally Posted by DonM435
I was already in college taking Physics 101 when some kid showed off his \$400 HP calculator. We were duly impressed.
I recall inputting "2", [ENTER], "2", [x] -- that's "2 times 2" in Polish, or something like that -- and getting 3.99999. Some primitive kind of chip, I guess.
We used log tables for multiplying in physics. I remember the teacher making an impressive point by getting us all to multiply 2 by 2 using 4-figure logs, and guess what - we got 3.999

4. My second cousin was our Physics 3 teacher in the 12th grade. He brought a hand-crank magneto from an old wall phone to class and told us anyone who could hang on to the electrodes while he cranked it would get an automatic 'A' for the class.

My buddy Ron took the challenge but had strung a wire through his shirt down to both hands to shunt the connection from his body. You can guess what happened. When the teacher tried to turn the crank, it wouldn't budge due to the direct short. He told Ron he should have learned that in the class and gave him a 'D'. I didn't stop laughing for a week.

5. My 12th grade physics teacher always seemed to be a little "disconnected" from the class, as though he simply could not relate to the way kids think and the things they do. He typically sat at his desk and read a magazine during tests, his face not visible to us. Cheating was rampant amongst one group in the class, and everyone thought he was oblivious to it.

About half way through one test he calmly rose, walked to the blackboard and wrote:

THAT TEST
THAT CLASS
THAT SCHOOL

Now that he had everyone's attention, he spoke to us:

"At some schools, when you're caught cheating, you get zero for THAT TEST.
At other schools, you are removed from THAT CLASS.
And at other schools, you are expelled from THAT SCHOOL."

Then he sat down and continued reading his magazine. It had the desired effect.

6. When I was in primary school, teachers would give us pins with photos of (still black) Michael Jackson and it would be PC because that was way before the -alleged- scandals.

When I was in primary school, texts would be copies of copies of copies of stencils. You get a page missing the first letters of every line, with a big pitch black square on it featuring the subscript "fig. 14 - Alexander The Great" and you will love it.

When I was in primary school, the whole school would stop classes for 3 hours to go up to the river and see an oil rig (newly built at a nearby shipyard) passing the river. They'd teach us about oil rigs. They'd explain they had to cut power on the power lines crossing to river such that they would shorten as they cooled down so the rig could pass underneath. None of this would be in the government guidelines for our education, but we'd had a fun time, saw a once-in-a-lifetime situation and learned stuff.

When I was in primary school, the whole school (that was the whole 25 children for kindergarten plus 6 grades primary school. It was a verrrry small school) would visit our garden in spring and summer to see the fruits and flowers.

7. *In elementary, rotary dial phones were still fairly common.
*You had to be rich to have a cell phone through my senior year.
*In MS, I still had to sign the card inside library books.
*In MS, computers were just new enough to be considered special school equipment.
*In MS, I learned to become skilled at using card catalogs.
*In HS, I was blown away by the first (and last) time I ever saw a laserdisc player in use.
*In HS, dot-matrix printers were still very common.
*In elementary, NES graphics were cutting-edge (I remember the first time I saw Super Mario Brothers very well, after knowing nothing but the Atari 2600).
*Internet access was only just taking off in my senior year.
*Photography class was synonymous with darkroom work through my senior year.

8. In HS, I started to work with DOS based orange-on-black displays, and six years later we ended with 32 bit Windows PC's with internet access and all that.

When I was in HS, I had to explain my teachers how a car-based GPS works because most people had never used one.

When I was in HS, nobody had a Mac unless they still had an old system.

When I was in primary school, we saw the first Belgian astronaut live on television in school.

9. Order of Kilopi
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My high school algebra teacher used to wake up sleeping students by throwing chalk at them. She was very accurate. Throwing things at students is probably frowned upon now.

10. Originally Posted by Chuck
My high school algebra teacher used to wake up sleeping students by throwing chalk at them. She was very accurate. Throwing things at students is probably frowned upon now.
My 11th grade Algebra II teacher did that and this was in 2007/2008. She was also rather sleep inducing.

11. Originally Posted by Nicolas
In HS, I started to work with DOS based orange-on-black displays, and six years later we ended with 32 bit Windows PC's with internet access and all that.

When I was in HS, I had to explain my teachers how a car-based GPS works because most people had never used one.

When I was in HS, nobody had a Mac unless they still had an old system.

When I was in primary school, we saw the first Belgian astronaut live on television in school.
My high school computer was a Wang with something like 16k of memory, cassette input (no hard drive), and a keyboard that was laid out like this:

ABCDEFGHIJ
KLMNOPQR
STUVWXYZ

12. My high school computer was a slide rule, when it wasn't a pencil and paper. When I made it to college, there were two computers (that I know of ) on campus. Both programmed with punch cards. I managed to use up a full five minutes of core time, and use up the entire computing budget for the psychology department, in the process of trying to do a statistical analysis for a friend. It turned out the instructions for the subroutine had the variables in the wrong order.

13. When I went to school...
Lunch was 45 cents. I don't remember what milk cost; I never liked it.
My high school (1500+ kids) did not have any vice, deputy, or assistant principals. Nor was there a school psychologist or a social worker or a uniformed police officer assigned to school. (There were undercover police; this was after somebody invented "drugs.")
We had gym twice or once (for seniors) per week.
The rats were preserved with formaldehyde.
Girls took home economics; boys took shop. We used real tools, which could cause quite real injuries (one kid sliced off his thumb and forefinger with a bandsaw).
We could not wear jeans; we had to wear collared shirts (they had liberalized to permit polos). The dress code also limited the length of boys' hair.
No sneakers allowed, except in gym.
Where we had to shower after gym class.
Bringing a jack knife to school was not an offense (I occasionally used one to sharpen pencils).

Some things were in the really? category:

There was a teacher who was openly dating a student; we thought this was a bit creepy (he was 22; she was 18), but he was not breaking a law.

The chem labs hoods vented into the second floor hallway.

14. Originally Posted by swampyankee
We could not wear jeans; we had to wear collared shirts (they had liberalized to permit polos). The dress code also limited the length of boys' hair..
Our school uniform was ridiculously strict, and this was a state school, not private. Specific colour of trousers, jacket, shirt, with tie. And black shoes always. In summer, suffering from disgustingly sweaty feet, in desperation I tried black sandals and black socks. This usually worked until I got holes in the socks, when I had to resort to inking my toes to avoid detection.

15. We moved a lot when I was a kid. I remember in Anchorage, Alaska (early grade school) that we would go out to recess pretty much any time unless there was a serious snow storm. I mostly remember this because when we moved to Lincoln, Nebraska I remember not understanding why they wouldn't let us go outside in what I thought was good weather.

Then we moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico. My parents bought a new house in a new development area. Across from the house was undeveloped desert. There was nothing green in the yard (eventually we managed to get some grass in an atrium, but would have to pitch the tumbleweeds out after a good wind). Anyway, the first day at school, most of the school yard was dirt, blacktop or concrete, but between classes there was grass. Naturally, I walked across to go from one class to another, and was shocked when a teacher yelled at me - we weren't supposed to walk on the grass! We were only supposed to walk on the concrete walkways. Later someone explained the reason (hard to keep it growing) but at the time it seemed bizarre to me. Of course you walk on grass! What was it for if not for walking? I also remember occasional small dust devils coming up and kids jumping in them, which also seemed weird.

16. I live in Southern New England. Since about 1978 (when "weather reporter" became fashionable, and they started getting them from places like Florida), we've turned into weather wimps. When there was only a bit of snow on the road -- one or two inches (2 cm to 5 cm), the bus company would put on the tire chains and pick us up while it was snowing.

This was, of course, topped by both my parents. My mother had to walk home from school during the Hurricane of 1938 (she was 11), while the trees and power lines were coming down. She was in an urban district. My father was in a rural district; he had to walk farther.

17. Originally Posted by Jim
I simply went into our backyard, climbed the chain link fence into the backdoor neighbor's yard, went out his gate and walked a block to school.
Because of the lack of people being "neighborly", or some other factors?

I had a similar issue, but it was related to bus pickups. (In our day, each bus only picked up at one location.)
My bus location was a half mile away, but there was a pickup point within a few hundred feet of my house. But; because it was through a backyard (which was really more like an extension of the city park), I was "officially" not allowed to ride it. (even though I did most of the time).

18. An old guy writes: We were taken on a school trip to see a computer, it was a room full of valve (tube) based gates that was 1958. We learned to use a calculating machine and of course a slide rule. By university time the chemistry department had a computer progammed with cards and a punch. At first job, British Aircraft Corporation had state of the art analog computers (valves) and a tape programmed digital, that was 1967. I saw the first Sinclair calculator and probably the first Apple imported into UK, about 1974, not sure. Back at school plate tectonics had just been established, tetrode valves were a sure fire A level question. Lasers were a solution looking for a problem. Creep and fatigue in materials were new concepts. The pound was worth four dollars and petrol (gas) was four (imperial) gallons per pound when I started driving. DNA was several years in the future. The Beatles were growing in popularity, and best of all, in my first year university the mini skirt was everywhere and the pill was invented. Then they landed on the moon. (really they did.......)

19. Moderator
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When I was in high school guys came to school with their shotgun hung on the gun rack in the back window of their pickup. We never thought a thing about it.

20. In 1977 my grade 12 biology textbook taught me that the genetic code consists of 64 triplets of nucleotides encoding 20 amino acids. There was a table in the book showing which of the combinations coded which amino acids. About half the table was blank. Today, surveys of single nucleotide polymorphisms are commonly used in the search for genetic predisposition to diseases.

21. Order of Kilopi
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Back in my day, Mercury still rotated in 88 days.

22. Back in my day, Pluto was still a planet and Hermes wasn't cancelled yet.

23. Back in my day, Pluto was still a planet ...

We went to a teaching supply store a week or two ago and as my daughter looked for stuff for her class, I browsed the science section. They had a model of the solar system with eight planets!

I play Rogue Star every now and then (Hey, it's fun destroying the solar system!) and have found that you can strip away most of the planets, but two will almost always remain... Mercury and Pluto. Such loyalty should not be dismissed lightly.

25. Our school had a very strict rule about playing cards, associated with gambling. In the pre-university classes I approached the headmaster for permission to form a bridge club, arguing about the non-gambling aspect and the logical thought processes, calculations of probabilities, and so on. Surprisingly, permission was granted. When I mentioned that we needed some packs of cards, he said "that shouldn't be a problem" and opened a large cupboard from which literally hundreds and hundreds of confiscated packs of cards fell out.

26. Originally Posted by Perikles
Our school had a very strict rule about playing cards, associated with gambling. In the pre-university classes I approached the headmaster for permission to form a bridge club, arguing about the non-gambling aspect and the logical thought processes, calculations of probabilities, and so on. Surprisingly, permission was granted. When I mentioned that we needed some packs of cards, he said "that shouldn't be a problem" and opened a large cupboard from which literally hundreds and hundreds of confiscated packs of cards fell out.
My college actually had a similar rule, you could play cards, but you couldn't play for money. So, my Friday night poker group just used chips (all with cash values) and would just keep track week-to-week of your wins and loses. Every six months or so we'd settle up. Even only playing \$0.10 / \$0.25 / \$0.50 chips, after many weeks it could add up, and certain people might be up \$50 or \$100. The big winner had to take everyone else out to dinner.

27. Originally Posted by Chuck
Back in my day, Mercury still rotated in 88 days.
The Big Bang and Steady State theories were still competing (at least in the elementary school astronomy books).

28. Order of Kilopi
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I remember Jupiter's 12 moons. Saturn had 9, Uranus had 5, and Neptune had 2. I remember that from junior high school but don't know the current moon counts for any of them.

29. Originally Posted by Perikles
Our school ... playing cards ... bridge ...
My first year in college I stayed in a dorm. In the lobby were several tables. At one or more of these tables were bridge games... eternal bridge games.

I don't know when they started, because they were playing when I first walked in. When a player had to go to class or work or sleep, he simply handed his cards to another student and that person played. Until he had to ...

30. Probably my college banned gambling -- it was illegal, in any event. Of course, I played penny poker. Toughest money I ever made -- I graduated up about \$1.98

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