Date: Sun, 8 Mar 2009 12:23:05 -0400
Sender: "SAS(r) Discussion" <SAS-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
From: Nat Wooding <Nathaniel.Wooding@DOM.COM>
Subject: Re: OT: Friday humor, v2
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Not to take this too much further down memory lane but cards had a whole
set of issues all their own. A small "deck" could be contained with a
rubber band but as the deck got larger, this became more cumbersome to
carry about, particularly when the deck was too small to make it worthwhile
putting in a box and you had to go across campus to the card reader. We
did use magic markers to put diagonal stripes on the decks which aided in
sorting when a deck got dropped. To add to our low productivity was the
need to pick up the printout. Even when I started work, my office was
across the street from the computer room and this meant regular trips to
drop off decks and check for output and given turnaround times back then,
it was easy to make a couple trips before I got a simple job back.
The cards, themselves, suffered from wear as they went through the card
reader since there were drive wheels that moved them along. Over time, the
leading edge of a card would become damaged in spots so that it would
finally start jamming and have to be replaced. Of course, being carried
through rain did not help them much. We even once had a minor disaster at
NCSU when there was a torrential downpour that put a number of inches of
water in the ground floor of our building and soaked cases of cards that
were being stored.
There was even a legend floating around that at one point, IBM considered
that their primary business was selling cards and that no new system could
be proposed that did not depend on cards.
The one good story that I can recall about card decks was that supposedly
at the Ames campus, if you wanted extra special treatment from the computer
room staff, you put a piece of hard candy under the rubber band on the
Environmental Specialist III
Dominion, Environmental Biology
4111 Castlewood Rd
Richmond, VA 23234
Phone:804-271-5313, Fax: 804-271-2977
Sent by: "SAS(r) SAS-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Re: OT: Friday humor, v2
Please respond to
(apparently my email editor decided to send the email before I was
... and SAS programmers were too impatient to fill out the keypunch
forms and wait for the punched decks to return from "keypunch". So,
while the COBOLers had those nice sequence numbers in columns 73-80,
the FORTRANers and later SAS programmers usually didn't. So, if we
dropped our program decks we had to laboriously put our programs back
together one card at a time reading that little line at the top.
We always tried to keep on the good side of the supervisor of the
keypunch room, in order to get a timely return of programs or data
decks. (Those who didn't often waited a day or so longer to get their
I, also, remember having to run programs at lunch or after 6 PM
because they were larger than 128K and required the combining of
partitions in order to compile.
I don't even want to remember having to pour over those think stacks
of fan-fold paper outputs debugging a program. Who hasn't had an out
of control do loop that produced a box or more of output with one line
printed per page. 8-0
Time was not a luxury, as we might get two or possibly three runs a
day. Sometimes you submitted your job early in the morning and get it
back two or three hours later only to find that you ran out of disc
space. We lived and died by our IBM "Messages and Codes" manual. Far
different from the SAS/EG world we live in today.
I guess I am officially and old person, at least according to Ron Cody.
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