[vcf-midatlantic] my first BYTE into computers (was My first computer memory was ...)

Gregg Levine gregg.drwho8 at gmail.com
Fri May 28 21:40:42 UTC 2021

Um, Jeffrey J, you get an extra bucket of points, and some chad if you
can tell us who Francis Lewis was, oh and where he's buried. Hint:
Think of July 4.
Gregg C Levine gregg.drwho8 at gmail.com
"This signature fought the Time Wars, time and again."

On Thu, May 27, 2021 at 10:16 PM Jeffrey Jonas via vcf-midatlantic
<vcf-midatlantic at lists.vcfed.org> wrote:
> I got my first taste for computers while still in the crib.
> I teethed on tape write rings!
> Despite my dad programming computers since the 50s,
> it took a friend to really kick-start my interest.
> Ryan Junior High school had 3 programmable calculators in the
> vice principal's office for "independent study":
> a pair of Compucorp 025 Educators and an Olivetti Programma 101.
> Steven Popper showed me how to program them and I was hooked!
> I thought it was awesome being able to teach a machine to follow my directions.
> A key turning point was learning conditional branching.
> Now the machine was making DECISIONS!
> [using an "if" statement may sound trivial but those programmable
> calculators were very limited that way].
> I learned the Compucorp so well that I wrote another folder of
> self-learn exercises and tutored others!
> I always adored using teeny FiloFax loose-leaf binders because I can
> rearrange the pages.
> I still have that notebook with my first programs.
> Francis Lewis High school in Queens may not sound prestigious but in
> the mid 70s, it was quite the "magnet school" with special programs
> such as the Math-Science Institute.
> The best math teachers were recruited and that spring-boarded the
> school's success, becoming the first public high school to achieve
> International Baccalaureate accredation
> http://ferretronix.com/flewis/#ib_footnote
> The math department taught computer programming as if it were a
> science lab experiment.
> Learn something (such as calculating the area under a curve), do it by
> hand, and then get the computer to handle the tedium of more and more
> points.
> We started by sharing one HP 9820A
> https://www.hpmuseum.org/hp9820.htm
> https://www.oldcalculatormuseum.com/hp9820a.html
> Then we learned EDU-25 basic on the PDP8/e with 2 terminals
> (originally ASR33 teletypes, later ADM3A).
> Having our own PDP8/e was a big deal. Few schools had a computer in-house.
> The main computers were batch.
> Programs were keypunched onto cards, using IBM 029 keypunches.
> Operators (such as myself) ran the IBM 3777 RJE (Remote Job Entry)
> terminal: a card reader and line printer to a modem.
> https://www.ricomputermuseum.org/collections-gallery/equipment/ibm-3777-model-3-communication-terminal
> We dialed into 3 IBM mainframes: UAPC, MIDP or CCNY.
> Each was slightly different, requiring their own JCL (Job Control
> Language cards).
> Some ran HASP, others JES2.
> CCNY (City College of NY) had the student compilers: WATFIV, PL/C, SNOBOL, etc.
> UAPC (University Application Processing Center) was administration
> only: attendance, report cards, class scheduling.
> MIDP (Management Information Data Processing) was the board of
> education's mainframe, which was tolerable after the upgrade.
> I learned FORTRAN/WATFIV, PL/I, BAL, JCL and the operator commands
> among other things.
> The Cooper Union Computer Center was a PDP 11/45 running Unix version 6.
> What a joy to finally use INTERACTIVE TERMINALS
> (initially Olivetti teletypes, then ADM3A and Decwriters).
> Of course, K&R "C" was the main language.
> It was fun extending the Unix utilities with new features.
> I took ownership of the line printer system: LPR/LPD.
> See: http://ferretronix.com/cucc/
> That's all for now!

"Careful! That TARDIS is an heirloom!", said the Doctor to a grouping
of Guards who didn't want to believe that.

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