Old Timer

OldTimers-- one who knows it. Here we may introduce ourselves.

ChrisGarrod -- A Network Geek, but Operating Systems junkie -- an addict of http://c2.com/cgi/quickChanges?days=2 and PlanNineFromBellLabs

What are the qualifications for OldTimerhood?

Perhaps when you've seen too many fashions (hardware, software, whatpeoplewear, etc) go by, to be surprised by a new fashion. --DickBotting

Related, when you've seen so many fashions you can't even face learning yet another that you are sure will be out of style in 5 years.

Earning the Computer Merit Badge in 1970? Paying what was then a lot of money for 2K RAM chips and wire-wrap sockets? An ARPAnet email address? --DaveSmith

Perhaps someone who used to read BangPath?s like postal addresses. Or knew what DataGeneral was BeforeMicrosoft. Nicer term, but less endearing, than OldFarts. -- SunirShah, youngen

Perhaps those of us who remember front panel switches and BlinkenLights? that were meaningful?

Maybe those of us who not only know what an accumulator is, but why it's called an accumulator?

Or maybe those of us who have built TTL FlipFlops? Or vacuum tube or relay?

Or used machines with drum memory? Or tape cores, or magnitostrictive delay lines, or who still call "main memory" "core memory". Or used to adjust the drum-to-head clearance by running them down until you heard the squeal, them backing off a half turn? Or know what the sense winding is and what it looks like?

An internet OldTimer would know bang paths and who Henry Spencer is, but that wouldn't necessarily make them an OldTimer.

Someone who keeps bringing up how oldTimer they are, about how they got started when (a) people still punched cards (or wrote programs on box-lined sheets so the "girls" in keypunch could type them in), (b) people had to enter the bootstrap program off the switches, (c) vaccuum tubes ("valves" in England, cf Hoyle's sfi The Black Cloud) kept the rooms warm in winter.

And have seen keypunch "girls" trying to correct a typo by back-spacing and punching the correct key several times!

When you get to call people who started off with Algol60 "youngsters".

people had to enter the bootstrap program off the switches,...

Ooh, Yeah, load the octal boot address in the switches, hit swithes->E switch, hit E -> M switch, Load the op into the switches, hit switches -> E switch, hit store switch which increments the M automagically, ... <sigh> Oops, gotta go empty my drool cup.

Perhaps those of us sure that the new WikiName GreenBarAddiction must be about continuous forms for impact printers.

I used to take the scrap computer paper to some friends who ran a play group for 3 to 4 year olds. One day I took some plain paper and one girl saw it was wrong and drew the green lines on the paper. -- JohnFletcher

Speaking of greenbar, how about the number of carriage control tapes that you have punched? Don't forget keypunch drum cards - Youthful old-timer (or am I just still ignorant?)

[sigh] ImissGreenBar.

Someone who misses the idle-loop softly sliding by the 16 front-panel lights on the CPU.

Or putting a radio on top of the computer, and programming the lights to generate EMI at radio frequencies and play tunes...

Someone who still calls memory "core" from time to time.

Someone who views the internet as basically a PDP11 on steroids. IP addresses? Domain Names? Just the I/O-Page problem, revisited....

Someone who gets the insult: I could eat greenbar and s**t better code than that!

See ReallyOldIron http://usemod.com/cgi-bin/mb.pl?OldGeezers


I started programming on an IBM 1620 in the Chem Eng Department at Cambridge University in about 1966. That had switches, numbered 1 to 4 which could be programmed in FORTRAN to control program flow. It also had a STOP button. Input was paper tape and it had a huge disk drive, bigger than a tub washing machine. Output was onto a heavy typewriter with a moving carriage.

I can't go back so far so I'm a NotSoOldTimer? - circa 1972 -- Magnetic Core Memory you could warm your hands over on a cold day and an IBM 360/40 ---CardStacker?/Reader & Teletype Terminals at 110 Baud and the New fangled 300 Baud Video Terminals. Saying to the RadioShack Store Owner - When the TRS-80 comes in, give me a call, I'll get it going for you. 4K RAM and a cassette recorder for a data and program storage device. Bought the second one he had - serial no in the 2000s. On to the Tandy 1000 and two 5 1/4 floppies - all the storage one could possibly need? The answer to the people who asked "what do you use a computer for" became "EVERYTHING". BBSing using a 300 Baud Modem with manual switches. All this makes me appreciate the new 1.6Ghz Pentium 4 with 80 Gig Hard Drive and CD RW and a Cable Modem connected to the Internet. What more could you possibly need? Yogi Berra might say it this way: I don't think we have seen nothing yet!!!

See also VeryOldPerson

EditText of this page (last edited November 21, 2014) or FindPage with title or text search