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1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 4:03 am UTC
by thunk
Image

Alt text: "Lot of drama in those days, including constant efforts to force the "Reflections on Trusting Trust" guy into retirement so we could stop being so paranoid about compilers."

300 baud, uphill in the snow both ways.

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 5:01 am UTC
by rhomboidal
By the time the memory you needed got released, you'd forgotten what you needed it for.

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 6:14 am UTC
by serutan
So that's how you modernize "When I was your age, I had to walk through 10 foot snowdrifts for 20 miles to get to school. Uphill each way."

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 6:52 am UTC
by jonhaug
serutan wrote:So that's how you modernize "When I was your age, I had to walk through 10 foot snowdrifts for 20 miles to get to school. Uphill each way."


Immortalized by Monty Python ...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe1a1wHxTyo

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 6:56 am UTC
by jonhaug
thunk wrote:Image

Alt text: "Lot of drama in those days, including constant efforts to force the "Reflections on Trusting Trust" guy into retirement so we could stop being so paranoid about compilers."

300 baud, uphill in the snow both ways.


In case someone hasn't seen this before:

https://www.ece.cmu.edu/~ganger/712.fal ... ompson.pdf

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 9:08 am UTC
by sfmans
If you wanted to write a simple online web form you had to lash it together from a blizzard of semi-documented frameworks and tools and utilities and runtimes, any single one of which could change and/or break at any moment.

Oh, no, hang on ...

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 9:17 am UTC
by CharlieP
...and if you tell that to the young people today, they won't believe you...

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 9:22 am UTC
by orthogon
jonhaug wrote:In case someone hasn't seen this before:

https://www.ece.cmu.edu/~ganger/712.fal ... ompson.pdf

Copyright notice from Thompson's paper wrote:Permission to copy without fee all or part of this material is granted provided that the copies are not made or distributed for direct commercial advantage, the ACM copyright notice and the title of the publication and its date appear, and notice is given that copying is by permission of the Association for Computing Machinery and that the copies themselves compile and, when run, produce further copies of themselves. To copy otherwise, or to republish, requires a fee and/or specific permission.


FTFH

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:29 am UTC
by Carteeg_Struve
Assembly code was horrific back then too. You couldn't just write what you wanted the computer to do, you had to go out and find the code snippets you wanted from other source codes so you could assemble it all together. Then you had to put together a second file that told the computer what languages you assembled the pieces of code from. The worst to fit in was Navajo, because many foreign processors couldn't decode it.

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 11:19 am UTC
by Soupspoon
In the early pricing structures for data, each more significant bit cost twice as much as the one preceding it. That's why email is 7-bit, because they didn't even release the higher-value epostage-stamps until the early '90s.

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 12:05 pm UTC
by Mikeski
And it was a pain when you couldn't find someone with an Iomega Zip Drive to open your .zip files. (They emulate that Zip Drive hardware in software, nowadays.)

And those ones-complement architectures... the whole idea was a bunch of shenanigans to get the Soviet ICBM guidance computers to miss... but to make it seem real we had to try to code for a computer that had a separate value for "negative zero" and "positive zero"...

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 12:31 pm UTC
by da Doctah
Panel five proves she's a lot younger than I am. Regular mortals weren't allowed to possess punch cards when I was in college. You had to write everything out on coding sheets to be punched by the keypunch operators, who would then put the card (with a rubber band around the deck) in the box outside the computer room. After four or five days (not weeks, mind you), you could pick up your compiler listing, and with any luck your run output, from the same box on green-bar paper.

And you had to keep your fingers crossed, because COBOL programs for the business school slashed the zeroes and FORTRAN programs for the math department slashed the O's, so if the keypunch operator was trained with the wrong set of rules nothing would compile.

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 12:36 pm UTC
by Whizbang
Back in my day we coded in rocks.

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 1:07 pm UTC
by Brett Dunbar
jonhaug wrote:
serutan wrote:So that's how you modernize "When I was your age, I had to walk through 10 foot snowdrifts for 20 miles to get to school. Uphill each way."


Immortalized by Monty Python ...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe1a1wHxTyo


Actually the sketch was originally on At Last the 1948 Show (1967) and featured Tim Brooke-Taylor, John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Marty Feldman. It was included in Monty Python's live shows but not in the television series.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKHFZBUTA4k

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 1:38 pm UTC
by JPatten
I took a programming class in High school, The programming language was called "Instant Pascal" We ran it on Apple IIe Computers and the Swap space was on floppy. SO Anytime it had to do anything it would hit the floppy drive. It was anything BUT instant. The disks were 3.5" floppies that a local business donated because they were not using them anymore. Half the time the were bad the other half the time we had to format them to erase the data that Should have been cleared before they were given to the school.

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 1:51 pm UTC
by mfb

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 1:57 pm UTC
by orthogon

Our IT people have a machine for punching holes into discs. Not to store data, though: quite the opposite, in fact.

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 1:58 pm UTC
by commodorejohn
Funnily enough, it turns out that you still have to compile things for different processors.

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 1:59 pm UTC
by JPatten


We used to use a hole punch to make disks "2-sided"

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 2:00 pm UTC
by Soupspoon
That punching of holes to create a double-sided disc was of course a development from the time when the additional holes were originally only punched through one side, to create 1½-sided disks.

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 2:04 pm UTC
by cellocgw
Whizbang wrote:Back in my day we coded in rocks.


And everything old is new again.

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 2:48 pm UTC
by somitomi
Whizbang wrote:Back in my day we coded in rocks.

Back in my day we modified the initial conditions of the universe so that it evolves to contain a hard drive with the code we want. It was tedious, especially because more complex programs required you to write a program to calculate the necessary modifications.

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 3:17 pm UTC
by Soupspoon
somitomi wrote:
Whizbang wrote:Back in my day we coded in rocks.

Back in my day we modified the initial conditions of the universe so that it evolves to contain a hard drive with the code we want. It was tedious, especially because more complex programs required you to write a program to calculate the necessary modifications.

These days, every script-kiddy not even worth their own cryptographic salt just uses a pre-built app to do that, click a few hotspot buttons, drp-down a few drop-down boxes and put whatever they want in the fields (numeric, text, gravitational, EM, etc).

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 9:20 pm UTC
by freezeblade
we programmed with a magnetic pin and a steady hand.

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 9:44 pm UTC
by commodorejohn
Soupspoon wrote:
somitomi wrote:
Whizbang wrote:Back in my day we coded in rocks.

Back in my day we modified the initial conditions of the universe so that it evolves to contain a hard drive with the code we want. It was tedious, especially because more complex programs required you to write a program to calculate the necessary modifications.

These days, every script-kiddy not even worth their own cryptographic salt just uses a pre-built app to do that, click a few hotspot buttons, drp-down a few drop-down boxes and put whatever they want in the fields (numeric, text, gravitational, EM, etc).

And somewhere, Nathan Brazil shakes his head and chuckles derisively.

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Sat Nov 05, 2016 12:11 am UTC
by rmsgrey
In my day, we coded by calculating exactly how improbable a program to solve the problem appearing spontaneously was, and then making a fresh cup of really strong tea...

And we hardly ever turned into penguins!

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Sat Nov 05, 2016 12:13 am UTC
by project2051
da Doctah wrote:Panel five proves she's a lot younger than I am. Regular mortals weren't allowed to possess punch cards when I was in college.


Then I'm in the younger crowd because when I was in college, I started with punch cards, but then moved on to DecWriters.

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Sat Nov 05, 2016 12:47 am UTC
by Eternal Density
That's not how any of this worked.

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Sat Nov 05, 2016 3:37 am UTC
by jc
Eternal Density wrote:That's not how any of this worked.

Shhh!! Don't tell them. We want the younger generation to think this really was what it was like.

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Sat Nov 05, 2016 3:51 am UTC
by Farabor
And of course, this brings to mind an old Frank Hayes classic, this rendition by Tom Smith: https://tomsmith.bandcamp.com/track/when-i-was-a-boy

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Sat Nov 05, 2016 5:19 am UTC
by Pfhorrest
Since everyone's sharing, let's not forget Weird Al's "When I Was Your Age".

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Sat Nov 05, 2016 11:20 am UTC
by somitomi
rmsgrey wrote:In my day, we coded by calculating exactly how improbable a program to solve the problem appearing spontaneously was, and then making a fresh cup of really strong tea...

And we hardly ever turned into penguins!

Didn't everyone turn into bugs when an error was made, thus giving rise to the term bug meaning a fault in a computer program? At least that's what I've been told...

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Sat Nov 05, 2016 3:26 pm UTC
by rmsgrey
somitomi wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:In my day, we coded by calculating exactly how improbable a program to solve the problem appearing spontaneously was, and then making a fresh cup of really strong tea...

And we hardly ever turned into penguins!

Didn't everyone turn into bugs when an error was made, thus giving rise to the term bug meaning a fault in a computer program? At least that's what I've been told...


No, they're named in honour of Admiral Grasshopper...

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Sat Nov 05, 2016 3:49 pm UTC
by Soupspoon
rmsgrey wrote:
somitomi wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:In my day, we coded by calculating exactly how improbable a program to solve the problem appearing spontaneously was, and then making a fresh cup of really strong tea...

And we hardly ever turned into penguins!

Didn't everyone turn into bugs when an error was made, thus giving rise to the term bug meaning a fault in a computer program? At least that's what I've been told...


No, they're named in honour of Admiral Grasshopper...


Admiral Kwai Chang Grasshopper, formerly of the Caine Institute Of Arts And Martial Academy.

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Sun Nov 06, 2016 3:22 am UTC
by dtilque
I'm surprised no one's mentioned the Great Bit Shortage of '78 (or was that '77?). One of those years, anyway. Programmers were scavanging used chads from punch card machines just to get their programs to compile. Man things got really ugly when you'd try to use a modem and found that all its bauds had been stolen by data thieves and sold on the binary market.

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Sun Nov 06, 2016 9:25 am UTC
by orthogon
dtilque wrote:I'm surprised no one's mentioned the Great Bit Shortage of '78 (or was that '77?). One of those years, anyway. Programmers were scavanging used chads from punch card machines just to get their programs to compile. Man things got really ugly when you'd try to use a modem and found that all its bauds had been stolen by data thieves and sold on the binary market.

Yeah...I guess this went away when later UNIX kernels started to recycle the contents of /dev/null.

But problems are looming for today's programmers. Experts estimate that, at current rates, we will run out of curly braces by 2025. This is likely to be the factor that finally spells the demise of the C family of languages.

Mathematics, of course, faced its own Parenthesis Crisis decades ago: mathematicians have to use whatever they can find lying around, which is why their papers are full of hideous things like (0,1].

In a related vein, a lot of youngsters today don't realise that there was a period, between punched cards and the introduction of text terminals, when code was entered using magnetic alphanumeric characters. Unfortunately this method was short-lived: too many programmers started taking the characters home to write cute messages on the fridge to their significant others, and many of them found their way into the kitchens of houses shared by computer science students. Eventually the manufacturers realised they could make more profit by selling them directly for this purpose.

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Sun Nov 06, 2016 7:39 pm UTC
by Solra Bizna
orthogon wrote:In a related vein, a lot of youngsters today don't realise that there was a period, between punched cards and the introduction of text terminals, when code was entered using magnetic alphanumeric characters. Unfortunately this method was short-lived: too many programmers started taking the characters home to write cute messages on the fridge to their significant others, and many of them found their way into the kitchens of houses shared by computer science students. Eventually the manufacturers realised they could make more profit by selling them directly for this purpose.

Now I want to build a computer that actually has such an input device.

Re: 1755: "Old Days"

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 2:58 am UTC
by dtilque
orthogon wrote:
dtilque wrote:I'm surprised no one's mentioned the Great Bit Shortage of '78 (or was that '77?). One of those years, anyway. Programmers were scavanging used chads from punch card machines just to get their programs to compile. Man things got really ugly when you'd try to use a modem and found that all its bauds had been stolen by data thieves and sold on the binary market.

Yeah...I guess this went away when later UNIX kernels started to recycle the contents of /dev/null.

Well, sort of. Sometimes the bits in /dev/null had previously been used for alt.flame posts....