Desperado

Punchcards suck.

I used to use Emacs at 300 baud. That’s how desperate I was to use a decent editor. The courses I was taking at school were on punchcards, and to avoid those horrible things, I:

– Wrote a terminal emulator for the SUPDUP protocol supported by ITS;

– Logged in over the Arpanet at 300 baud to MIT-AI;

– Used Emacs to edit my project’s source code (in Pascal);

– FTP’d that source to the machine at work (NBS-10) where I compiled and ran it;

– Picked up printouts and handed them in.

For the final project I drove up to MIT to visit my frind Jack (who was going there), got a listing off of the XGP laser printer, and handed *that* in.

My home-built Z-80 system didn’t even have a UART; the serial bits were programmed in and out with timing loop (interleaving screen updates).

That’s how much punchcards suck.

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7 Responses to Desperado

  1. reed says:

    In a lot of ways, the punchcard legacy still permeates computer programming and use. So much software is still based on the idea of reading in files from disk, doing something with the data, and writing the output back to disk. This is actually pretty limiting to writing easy to use, truly interactive applications. Big example: HTTP.

  2. James says:

    The read-process-write method is how computers work though, even the most interactive system involves reading the input from somewhere, processing it and then writing some output to somewhere. Whether you’re reading from punched cards and printing onto paper, or reading from the network and writing to a screen; it’s the same system.

    One day though, RAM will be cheap enough that your HDD will be a solid-state disk and the programs will execute in place, like they did on the PalmPilot. This would give us instant bootup/shutdowns and no loading times with programs.

  3. Ryan says:

    Wow, a Z80…not even a Z81. You really DID hate punch cards.

    Membrane Keyboard > Punch Cards

  4. Grant says:

    You know, I’ve never actually seen a physical punch card.

  5. John says:

    I remember having to write Fortran code and some PDP 11 assembly language code on punch cards and feed them into a Dec System 10 with a very cool card reader. But the Goliath is the card sorter. Those things are huge!

  6. Matt Power says:

    But there is some perverse beauty in the phrase “do not fold, spindle or mutilate”.

    I’m not sure why. Perhaps they should have added “or shuffle”. Punch cards sucked.

  7. Noah says:

    I have no joke, I just like saying “USB punchcard reader”.

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