Monday, August 31, 2009

Memories of IT - 1980 - Learning to code for real

First day in a real office, wore one of my two jackets and one of my 4 ties, business casual is still decades away. I join the Corporate Systems area within IT (probably called IS at the time), and a team within that area supporting investment systems.

As mentioned before, Crown hired people of all disciplines as programmers, so it starts everyone on a programming course, overseen by one of two IS instructors. I learned that PL/1 code needs to be structured and follow some rules if other people will be able to read and maintain it, so I am quickly cured of some bad habits learned in school. Structured PL/1 means no GO-TO statements, rather one should use procedure calls to sub-routines, with parameters for passing data back and forth. DO statements are another favored construct, both DO x TO y and DO WHILE statements.

Programming technology? Coding sheets, which you gave a group of keypunch people. When ready, you put the deck in a box outside the local operations, who ran it through the reader. The reader and printers are connected by a dedicated line to Crowntec, where the mainframe(s) lived, somewhere in North York.

Given programs of any length, we did use a source management product called Librarian; your card deck would be saved as a Librarian entry/member, and after that you would used Librarian commands to add, delete or replace lines in the entry, again through running punched cards, but just the ones you needed.

Part of running all these decks were cards for JCL, mainly a JOB card with your account and ID, and all the needed PROC statements and such. I think Librarian had JCL in it, but the memory is weak. TSO and partitioned data sets were out there too, but more on that later.

Next time: My First System

1 comment:

John said...

I wrote a little PL/1 in the summer of 1988. There was JCL in the air, but someone else took care of that for me. I hadn't thought about those languages in a long time.

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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.