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

1. Originally Posted by ToSeek
I did. My wife says that must have helped make me what I am today.
You did what, like the taste of Elmer's or eat a jar of its predecessor?

2. Glue: I think the name was Gloy. Later there was animal glue in hot pots in the woodwork shop.

Eating at school is a whole other thing, As far as I can recall I loved it all. Expect that has ruled my life more than the pearls of wisdom.
And we got school milk every day. AND "national health Orange Juice".

3. In college we had to use the computer lab for all of our science and engineering projects. Many families were beginning to get home computers, but nobody was buying them for their kids!
The computer lab had 10-15 machines for the whole campus, and you had to wait your turn. There was no internet access. The computers sat on desks facing the four walls. In the center of the room were the printers and a desk for the technician who showed everyone how to use the programs (this Lotus is driving me nuts!) or fix the printers. For printing graphs, there were plotters with long arms that alternately picked up various colored pens and drew the plot right before your eyes, 4-5 minutes for a basic graph.
My wife went to a liberal arts college, no engineering and light on the sciences, and there were usually only 2-3 people in the "computer room" at any given time. Everyone had typewriters or electric word processors in their rooms that they used for writing papers.

4. The cool guys at school bought cylindrical slide rules with spiral engraving and a sliding collar for the cursor. The scales were I guess about a metre long and you could calculate to three or even four figures. Obviously engineers scoffed at those because in engineering who needs more than two figures? In fact we were drilled on limiting the result to the accuracy of the data. Calculators started the rot of assuming a nine digit answer was more accurate than the result of a slide rule.

5. Originally Posted by Swift
I never ate Elmer's Glue, but I did like spreading a thin layer of it over my skin, particularly my hands, letting it dry (it only took a couple of minutes), then peeling it off. It would pick up all your fingerprints, and would also take off a lot of the dirt on your skin. I would try to do it slowly and carefully to get as big a continous piece as possible. A thicker coating was more durable, but took longer to dry and was harder to peel. My first research in materials science.
My brother used either Elmer's or rubber cement on his hands to give them a peeling, zombie-ish appearance for Halloween.

The glue folks remember eating was probably the white stuff made from flour and water. The other common adhesive when I was in elementary school was LePage's mucilage, which is yellowish and came in a bottle with a rubber applicator.

6. First experience with a computer was in high school, I think it was 1966. There was a Teletype machine with an attachment to punch/read paper tape.

I still remember writing a program to solve cubic equations in Fortran II.

7. Originally Posted by nosbig5
In college we had to use the computer lab for all of our science and engineering projects. Many families were beginning to get home computers, but nobody was buying them for their kids!
Originally Posted by mike alexander
First experience with a computer was in high school, I think it was 1966. There was a Teletype machine with an attachment to punch/read paper tape.

I still remember writing a program to solve cubic equations in Fortran II.
My age (probably) and computer experience wedges between you two.
In high school (graduated 1976) there was some little desk top machine that I think was programmed in some version of Basic, that because I was an honors math student, I played around with a little (very little), but didn't really do anything with.

I also remember our guidence counselor using some sort of Teletype connection for some sort of computer run career evaluation program that was kind of stupid.

My first serious work with computers was freshman year in college (Fall 1976). It was a PL1 programming course, done on punchcards, loaded in the Computer Lab, into our IBM 360 mainframe. I remember the software for loading your program was called PLAGO, for Poly Load And Go (I went to Brooklyn Polytech). I also played around with some Fortran programming during college.

By grad school (1980 to 84), we had a couple of little desktops (I think one was a Tandy) than ran some Basic programs (one was for x-ray diffraction work). I had some friends that used IBM PCs and the first Macs. There was a campus mainframe system that you could connect to from terminals all over campus. I used that for word processing (there were some nice system laser printers you could use) and there was some sort of networked e-mail, chat, and discussion "applications", but IIRC, they were all within our campus (Brown U.) system. But by my second post-doc (1986-87), the similar system I used at the University of New Orleans allowed me to e-mail friends at other campuses (including friends from Brown) - I think that was on the WWW precursor called BITnet.

8. Originally Posted by mike alexander
First experience with a computer was in high school, I think it was 1966. There was a Teletype machine with an attachment to punch/read paper tape.
If that was a Tally perforator/reader, I wrote the manual for it.

9. Originally Posted by mike alexander
First experience with a computer was in high school, I think it was 1966. There was a Teletype machine with an attachment to punch/read paper tape.

I still remember writing a program to solve cubic equations in Fortran II.
My first (and only formal) computer course was in 1969. St. Xavier College had a teletype terminal on a phone line to the Illinois Institute of Technology. You'd dial in and submit programs by threading little coils of paper tape through a reader. The language was IITRAN, which was IIT's version of Basic. How cool was it to see the results of my first project typing themselves on the paper.

10. Originally Posted by Luckmeister
If that was a Tally perforator/reader, I wrote the manual for it.
Wow, that's cool.

11. Originally Posted by DonM435
My first (and only formal) computer course was in 1969. St. Xavier College had a teletype terminal on a phone line to the Illinois Institute of Technology. You'd dial in and submit programs by threading little coils of paper tape through a reader. The language was IITRAN, which was IIT's version of Basic. How cool was it to see the results of my first project typing themselves on the paper.
Please, do not disparage IITRAN by comparing it to BASIC. IITRAN was much more powerful with, among other things, real subroutines. It was a didactic language, like BASIC, but it was compiled, not interpreted, and you could do real work in it, like FEM or writing parsers.

12. Originally Posted by swampyankee
Please, do not disparage IITRAN by comparing it to BASIC. IITRAN was much more powerful with, among other things, real subroutines. It was a didactic language, like BASIC, but it was compiled, not interpreted, and you could do real work in it, like FEM or writing parsers.
I didn't study the language further, but I did use it to do some statistical experiment for a later physics class. I didn't realize that it had any use besides teaching.

13. Pong was the only home computer game and we liked it.

When it became a four person game, well that was even cooler.

14. Originally Posted by Swift
My age (probably) and computer experience wedges between you two.
And I'm wedged in even tighter. (That sounds worse than I mean it)
Junior High (now refered to as middle school) was the paper tape dial up hardcopy terminal.
High School was one of those, and an IMSAI 8080 which only a few of us knew how to run. That thing with a bunch of lights and switches the kid had in War Games

In college, I was warned to buy a box of 5000 punch cards if I was majoring in computers. (I had about 4800 left over)
We finally got a VAX 11/780 as a "real" machine with about 50 terminals. Before that was a smattering of different technologies.
At the PC level, I was only exposed during my assembler class with some HP box with a wooden case.

15. Originally Posted by NEOWatcher
In college, I was warned to buy a box of 5000 punch cards if I was majoring in computers. (I had about 4800 left over)
I don't think I had any left. They made great bookmarks and scatch paper.

16. I found one that was a bookmark in my geology textbook from 1978-79. I wrote out the geologic time scale on one side of it for reference.

17. Originally Posted by Swift
I don't think I had any left. They made great bookmarks and scatch paper.
Oh, yes, the perfect bookmark size. I still have the box of FORTRAN code that did the spectrum modeling and measurements from my dissertation, completed 30 years ago next month. 2000 lines of FORTRAN lets you do a lot. I just haven't had the heart to toss it.

I keep a set of sample data formats from astronomy past to show students. Paper tape, punched cards, DECtape, diskettes, TK-50 cartridge, 8mm and 4mm tapes plus 9-track. Not to mention handwritten notebook for photometry, Schmidt films and photographic plates. And back then, the cosmic microwave background was hotter, there were fewer white dwarfs, the Ring nebula was smaller, we would sometimes have to bake the plates in flammable gases for sensitivity, we had to guide exposures with an eyepiece and risk freezing our eyelashes to the glass, sit on a platform at the top of the telescope out in the wind, know only on emerging from the darkroom at dawn if all had gone well - and pretty much loved every minute of it.

18. Originally Posted by ngc3314
Oh, yes, the perfect bookmark size. I still have the box of FORTRAN code that did the spectrum modeling and measurements from my dissertation, completed 30 years ago next month. 2000 lines of FORTRAN lets you do a lot. I just haven't had the heart to toss it.
I had to write a thesis as a requirement of my bachelors degree. That was submitted 30 years ago last month. My data were buried in a hodge-podge of other variables in various formats on storage media that included boxes of cards and tape reels in the main computing center. I wrote several programs in FORTAN to go through it all and extract the stuff I needed. By then we were allowed to use MTS, the Michigan Terminal System and I could key in my programs at a terminal instead of using the card punch machine. Your post inspired me to go to the crawl space and find the code. It's the first time I've looked at it since putting it in the box. It looks like gibberish to me now! It's printed on that 11x14 continuous paper for dot matrix printers.

After that, the analysis was straightforward and looking at the printouts I can still make sense of them. I used MIDAS (Michigan Interactive Data Analysis System) to run my ANOVA. Those results were printed double sided on letter paper with a laser printer, which was new to the university the year before, IIRC. I still have the hand-written notes of the models I used.

Yeah, I just can't bring myself to toss that stuff either.

19. Originally Posted by Swift
I don't think I had any left. They made great bookmarks and scatch paper.
I left a job in computing in 1979, taking a box of punch cards with me. I ran out of them about a year ago.

20. Originally Posted by Torsten
I found one that was a bookmark in my geology textbook from 1978-79. I wrote out the geologic time scale on one side of it for reference.
Back when I went to school, you could write the geological time scale on a Post-It Note... only they hadn't been invented yet.

I was working in the crystallography lab as a research assistant for a short itme and had to run a program using data from an experiemnt. I made the punch cards using a terminal in the engineering building, then carried them across campus to the mainframe building, where I placed them in the queue and waited patiently for someone to pick them up and run them so I could get the results. And I remember more about that process than the results.

21. Originally Posted by Swift
I don't think I had any left. They made great bookmarks and scatch paper.
Absolutely. I guess I should have specified that I had that many left over for other uses.

22. When I got an income tax refund check while in college, I noticed it was in the form of a punch card. I took it over to the computer center and ran it through the keypunch machine, which could also print the contents, to see what it said! Just my name, SSN, and the amount of the check as I recall.

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The cards used to say "Do not mutilate, spindle, or fold." I had to look up spindle.

24. While in college in the late '60s, I worked a summer job in a laboratory where two physicists were using nuclear irradiation to analyze trace elements in barnacle shells from various parts of Chesapeake Bay. This was an interesting combination of high and low tech. We would expose the samples to neutrons in the core of a reactor, creating radioactive isotopes of the trace elements by neutron capture. Then we would analyze the resulting radiation with a high-energy radiation spectrometer and run the results through a computer. So far, very high tech for the time. The low tech by today's standards was in some of the operational details.

The reactor was immersed in about 30 feet of ultrapure water, which served both as coolant and radiation shield. A technician lowered the sample into the reactor core through an S-shaped tube with an ordinary fishing tackle. When the irradiation was complete he hauled it back up and lowered it into a lead bottle with its lid secured with gaffer tape. He was wearing a heavy lead apron such as we use when getting dental x-rays. When his radiation meter gave him the all clear sign, he handed the bottle to me and I took it two blocks to our lab on an old bicycle. I had to move fast because some of the radioisotopes had very short half lives. When I got to the lab we put the sample into the spectrometer and recorded the data on punched paper tape. Then I carried the roll of tape along with a Fortran program on an inch-thick stack of punch cards over to the computer facility in yet another building, again using the bike to save time.

I prepared the shell samples by roasting them in platinum crucibles, using a torch that looked like a Bunsen burner on steroids. This was to burn off the organic gunk and reduce the calcium carbonate to calcium oxide. To concentrate the heat, I built a miniature furnace by lining a piece of 2-inch pipe with asbestos cloth. That was before anyone knew about the health hazard of inhaled asbestos fibers. That has been over 40 years, and so far no sign of mesothelioma.

25. Originally Posted by Chuck
The cards used to say "Do not mutilate, spindle, or fold." I had to look up spindle.
Yes, and the card punch machines warned "Do not use as confetti". I remember checking that the tiny rectangles punched out of the cards had really sharp corners, so not the kind of thing for a bride to get in the eye on her wedding day.

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Originally Posted by Swift
I never ate Elmer's Glue, but I did like spreading a thin layer of it over my skin, particularly my hands, letting it dry (it only took a couple of minutes), then peeling it off. It would pick up all your fingerprints, and would also take off a lot of the dirt on your skin. I would try to do it slowly and carefully to get as big a continous piece as possible. A thicker coating was more durable, but took longer to dry and was harder to peel. My first research in materials science.
I do remember doing that with my glue occasionally, and being fascinated by the finger prints left when I peeled it off.

Back in Elementary school, I remember the projectors with the cassette for audio and the DONG for changing slides.

In Junior High, I took Woodworking, Metalworking, Cooking and Sewing. (And I've since used the last 2 a lot more than I've used the first 2); but I appreciate all I learned from all 4 classes. I think they were mandatory for everyone too, so we had boys and girls in all of the classes. The woodworking class we did use a band saw and drill press too; and a spot welder for the metal class.

I had a swiss army knife on me almost all the time through Junior High and High School and no one batted an eye.

I remember playing marbles occasionally in Elementary school. IIRC we dug a small hole, or just scuffed a dip in the ground, and the goal was to knock out the other marbles or something like that.

In High school, I remember they just put in a new IT centre the summer before I started, complete with a CAD/CAM machine and a pneumatic system with a PLC and a programmable robot arm. The Teacher in charge of all that let me play with the programmable robot arm, and the pneumatic system (I never had any real interest in CAD/CAM). The school had just had its computer network put in that summer as well; 1 networked computer per classroom at best. And no Internet access only; the network computers were for Teachers only. I do remember someone snuck in copies of Doom and Wolfenstein 3D and we'd play it after classes on those CAD/CAM computers (And any other computers that had a hard drive we could hide the executables on)

In the other computer lab, a friend of mine started a BBS and we hung out a lot together. He moved to Saint John so I took it over, being the second BBS in my town. Mainly it was for light messaging and some old BBS games but it was fun figuring out how to keep it up (esp over a single 14.4k modem). Since my mom was a teacher that transferred to my high school the year after I started there, when the BBS crashed, I could get her to take me in to the school to restart it.

In Highschool, my crews usual noon hour activity would be playing cards. We (rarely) played for cash, but we were playing 31's, 21's, and other games. I recall "Spoons" was a popular past time at times too.

When I started University, Waterloo had just taken out its last Big Mainframe out of the MC building. The Big Red room was still there, but it was down to a couple of racks they were trying to find new homes for, while the new IT server room was a floor above and basically 3-4 offices worth of space along the back of the building. (as opposed to being the majority of the bottom 2 floors of the MC building). I used my old 28.8 baud modem for the first couple of years; when I was on Co-op work terms in Ottawa, I would keep my aunt and uncle's phone line tied up for most of the evening while I was online. It wasn't until 3rd year I started using Cable modems (and learning how to Network computers together; between me and my roommates).

27. Back in Elementary school, I remember the projectors with the cassette for audio and the DONG for changing slides.

28. Originally Posted by Perikles
Yes, and the card punch machines warned "Do not use as confetti". I remember checking that the tiny rectangles punched out of the cards had really sharp corners, so not the kind of thing for a bride to get in the eye on her wedding day.
We had no idea that the confetti were called "chads" until the 2000 election.

I remember some Counselor Education professor approaching our Educational Research department head. It seems that he wanted to make up some banners, and he asked if we had any of those huge fanfold-paper printouts that we didn't need any more.

"How many miles of it do you need?" was the reply. Indeed, all of us had stacks of old output going up to the ceiling.

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Paper tape punches make tiny circles of paper. That seems like safer confetti.

30. Originally Posted by DonM435
I didn't study the language further, but I did use it to do some statistical experiment for a later physics class. I didn't realize that it had any use besides teaching.
The legend when I was at IIT was that IITRAN was written because they needed something akin to PL/1 for something or another (they also had FORTRAN -- of course, and Univac's was better than IBM's at the time [shocking; IBM developed FORTRAN]--, SNOBOL, COBOL, LISP, at least two variants of Algol, something call ISEBOL [sp?], and every other hunk of software that wasn't tied to some architecture that wasn't a UNIVAC. 48 bit float, 96 bit double precision...those were the days....)

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