Another tale of university days

As a proud math graduate of the University of Waterloo, I am passing the following story on to you. (“Goodbye freshman bravado,” CWC, XX, page XX.)

It was the fall of 1965 and I was writing my first Fortran program. I finished punching the cards and had either put them in the hopper or was getting ready to. We were limited to the number of compiles but this was exciting stuff.

What makes this even more memorable in my own mind was this was the night the power went out on the Eastern seaboard. If I hadn’t known better I would have been convinced then about the immense power of computers. I remember working on a 1440 system and programming through the console knobs, and this was a major step from wired boards for the accounting machines.

On my first work term I remember our IBM Customer Engineer at the time was telling us about the rooms of computers he had to service at the NORAD site. I also remember using an early version of file transfer in 1981 and it taking two hours to download a program. Now we have Palm Pilots with more power than the NORAD computers.

When I look back over 36 years of experience in the IT field I really remember the power blackout as a starting point, and am amazed by the many changes that are continuing at an ever-rapid rate.

Walter Stevens

London, Ont.