Thursday, August 27, 2009

Memories of IT - late 70's - Finishing University

Moving into the later years of university, it is true in any major that the number of people attending the the 3rd and fourth year courses reduces to a core group. So, I spent a lot of time with such a group, and now look back and wish we had Facebook or something, because I wish I had somehow maintained contact with a lot of those people.

In class, I found myself doing well in more commercial topics, like databases, and not so good in more theoretical topics, like Artificial Intelligence (since AI never really took off the way it was promoted, I don't feel too bad about that). So, it was clear that I was not destined to be a Computer Scientist, emphasis on the 'science'.

In the meantime, being more senior meant access to slightly better technology. One course had us using interactive terminals tied to a PDP computer, but the terminal was tele-type. It printed what you typed, then you typed "enter" or something, off it would go to the PDP somewhere, and it would then comeback and print-out its response. I think I used this to program a B-Tree type of DBMS, which I recall I was quite proud of and got a great mark, but the details have not remained in memory, and the paper print-out disappeared at some point as well.

What this also introduced me to was the first computer game I had seen and played. It was called Adventure, and if you had a user account balance that more than met the need of your course-work, then it was time to play Adventure. It was a text version of what you would recognize as Dungeons and Dragons, or others of that ilk. It typed out that you were standing at the edge of a hole in the ground, you would type 'jump in hole', it would type what you see in the hole, like a key on the ground, you would type "pick-up key" because you would need it later on... turns out I suck at this kind of game, so no D&D play (or WoW) was to be found in my future.

There was also some TSO to be found. If you took on the job of student advisor, you got a TSO account, as long as you sat in a room near the card-reader and helped more junior students with their course-related questions. As was the nature of more senior people, we looked down on junior folks, especially those taking Programming 101 but who were not Comp Sci majors; much sneering accompanied the grudgingly provided answers. I cannot remember using TSO for anything except a text-based golf-game.

Next Time: Getting a job...

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About Me

Ontario, Canada
I have been an IT Business Analyst for 25 years, so I must have learned something. Also been on a lot of projects, which I have distilled into the book "Cascade": follow the link to the right to see more.