Monday, August 24, 2009

Memories of IT - 1973 - High School Computer Science

Fall 1973, my first introduction to coding sheets and punch-card machines. The class is ostensibly about Fortran programming, but the teacher was barely there. he would write a few keywords on the board, how to define a variable, write an assignment statement, then gave us a problem to solve and program. Most of us looked at each other and said "what the..." but one brilliant guy could figure it out and could be convinced to share some of it with the rest of us.

Once I got a handle on what the teacher was really asking for, I was OK at the basic coding and debugging. We punched cards at the back of the classroom, which were put in a box and taken out of the school to the school board office, where the "mighty computer" lived. Somebody there ran the cards in a batch run, and we got the cards and a print-out back the next day.

If you got the thing working, you got a good mark, and I don't remember any exams, so it was good option course which let you focus on the core math, sciences, english and such that filled up the rest of the day. So, I took it again the next year. I can still recall the classroom and the teacher, but not much at all of what I produced over the two years. I think I learned about GO TOs and DO loops but can't be sure... but it left some kind of impression, because I took it up as my major in university ...

NEXT: Majoring in Computer Science

1 comment:

Karen Lopez - said...

1973? My high school, in rural Indiana 1982, didn't have any computers while I was there. We did have a course in programming, where the entire class shared a single programmable calculator.

My school didn't even have a fax machine in 1986. I'm betting it didn't get one until the '90s.

Very difficult to compete with students in my info systems program at Purdue since I graduated from such an underfunded school system.

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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.