Friday, January 16, 2009

Ok, I feel old...

My kids couldn't/can't do it to me (make me feel old).

Physical exertion doesn't do it to me.

Nothing really did that - until I read this.  Not the blog entry - but the comments that said things like:

That being said, that thing is NEAT. I have no idea what it is though. Something to do with old punch card computers?

Nice piece of computer history, though I have no clue what it is. =P

I had an IBM flowcharting template once (more than once), and not as a hand me down.  I had the little paper pouch it went into as well.  Ouch.



Anonymous Anonymous said....

Tom, what do you mean 'had'? I still have my IBM template. It is a prized(?) posession. My kids say 'why do you save this' and I remind them 'All this stuff will be yours when I die cuz I'm not taking it with me'.
Hey, what could it fetch on eBay?!?

Sat Jan 17, 12:43:00 AM EST  

Blogger Joel Garry said....

I have it around here somewheres... of course I still have stacks of punch cards for several different languages.

word: vercero

Sat Jan 17, 09:38:00 PM EST  

Blogger Byte64 said....

hehehe, i have a few anecdotes concerning punch cards, indeed i attended the last course to use punch cards at the local university back in 1984.
The practical exercises of "principles of numerical computation" at the university were still carried out using a remote mainframe computer whose only input terminal was a punch reader and whose "graphical" output was a 132 columns wide printer.
It happened quite often that you submitted your job and a few hours later you collected the program dump saying "syntax error at line 1...". That's why one had learn to working programs QUICKLY.

Of course the keyboard of the puncher did not include the backspace because there was no point in having one, if you mistyped anything, then you had simply to discard the whole card.

On one day a guy who was borrowing "CPU time" from the "supercomputer" for doing structural analysis on behalf of a private company, stumbled on the floor and his well ordered stack of punch cards, probably several hundreds, was scattered all over the place (they fly like a paper airplane...). After collecting all the dispersed cards one of us asked:
- did you number the cards?
- nope, should I ?!?


Sun Jan 18, 12:25:00 PM EST  

Blogger Rachel said....

Still have mine -- paper holder and all.....

I feel old when I hear people yelling about how "slow" the internet is -- I still remember thinking that that 9600 baud dial-up line was FAST!

Sun Jan 18, 06:41:00 PM EST  

Blogger Guy Wicks said....

I remember having to use the ruler scale (10 characters to the inch) to define the page layouts on the green "fan fold" printouts, and convert that into RPGII 'O' (output) specs.

I still tell my users to "tell me what you want on the report(s)" as the first step of any specification, and to work back from that.

Mon Jan 19, 06:54:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Patty C. said....

Tom, Great timing for this post. I just finished a few frustrating hours electonically adding a flowchart to a paper I was writing. The whole time I kept thinking - this would be so much faster if I could just draw it with my template!

Mon Jan 19, 10:15:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Bo Brunsgaard said....

Hey - I still have one of those in my desk drawer at work, and I still use it every now and then.

I can make out a real neat ETL flow sketch on a piece of paper really fast using my trusty template. Once I have it about right, I can always spend most of an afternoon swearing at Visio to make it official :-)

Does that mean that at 42 I'm a dinosaur? Well, would explain my weight, I guess :-)

Bo Brunsgaard

Mon Jan 19, 11:57:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Semper Augustus said....

I had to buy one for an intro-level college class I took in 1995 or so. It's still in my desk at home.

Mon Jan 19, 06:44:00 PM EST  

Blogger Hosh said....

I had to get one of those when i was at college (high school for those of you from the U.S.A)

I can't for the life of me remember why i had to get it/ what course i had to get it for.

Mon Jan 19, 07:07:00 PM EST  

Anonymous locksmith mesa said....

I feel old, but I'm 18.. so boring..

Tue Jan 20, 01:26:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Iru said....

Don't get it, i STILL use flowcharts all the time to explain processes to my team of programmers - PLSQL processes. Granted the symbols are in templates in word processors, but wth? Any technician SHOULD know what these are.

Tue Jan 20, 04:25:00 AM EST  

Blogger Bill S. said....

I still have mine (3 copies actually) but without the sleeves. I even use it occasionally, just not for its intended use - the kids always got a bang out of creating drawings using it.

Seems like all the digital templates (Visio, etc.) were based on it, so it's a keeper for me. :-D

Old? I remember Eniac - does THAT make me old?

Tue Jan 20, 08:19:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

xkcd says

Tue Jan 20, 08:19:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I still have an old (circa 1986) IBM System/370 Reference summary - the little yellow book. Still use it from time to time to help me figure out ASCII Vs. Decimal Vs. Hex Vs. EBCDIC Vs. Biary.

When I worked at a certain auto company, we used to do a mainframe trick that had its origins in cards - the one's overpunch. We had to turn the VIN (alpha and numbers) to all numbers in order to compute the check digit. We did that by multiplying the VIN by 1 to turn it all to numbers. Try explaining that to a 'modern' programmer.

Tue Jan 20, 04:52:00 PM EST  

Blogger Joel Garry said....

With all the inauguration hoopla, I only just realized the school where I got the template was 7 miles from Occidental college, while Obama was going there. Now I will forever wonder if our paths crossed...

Operations training was across the street, we learned early to number and stripe the card decks.

word: ringrab

Wed Jan 21, 04:54:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Michael Norbert said....

It must have been even more exciting when you could use a ball point pen with the template instead of the quill.

Thu Jan 22, 12:51:00 PM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....


pens? you would use a nicely sharpened pencil - you know - so you could ctl-z or ctl-x when you needed to.

Thu Jan 22, 12:56:00 PM EST  

Blogger I said....

When I die, I'm taking mine with me!

Tue Jan 27, 02:24:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

We used to figure out how to make the holes line up so that if you looked at the card from the back (the un-numbered side), it would spell out messages like "Happy New Year", etc.

Tue Jan 27, 06:03:00 PM EST  

Blogger yoga and meditation said....

Yoga and Meditation is a great way to learn about concentration and also, put into practice self awareness, when you are practicing meditation, you will notice that there are lots of incredible things that surround your everyday life and this is what meditation will let you have, a moment for yourself to relax and to concentrate all of your energies on to one point. This practice becomes really handy one you get used to it, with meditation you are going to be able to perform better at school and at your work, and not only that, but this meditation is the key that will allow you to manage stress in a better way, so any stressful situation you are going to be managing much better than anyone else. That is precisely why meditation is so important, and specially for you to obtain great mental results that will help you become a much better person to be around.

Wed Jan 28, 09:37:00 AM EST  

Blogger Ben Prusinski said....

Hi Tom,

I still have fond memories of my first computer more than 20 years ago, it was a Commodore 64 that had a whopping 64MB of RAM! Do you remember the famed Commodore PC? Still, it was my first computer and at age 14, I learned how to program in BASIC. It did help that I learned algebra in sixth grade. I know what you mean about age- I cannot stay up to the wee hours now like when I was 21. Sleep is a luxury that I treasure more now than ever. Especially with writing books, speaking, and traveling to clients across the country.


Wed Jan 28, 11:02:00 PM EST  

Blogger Kim Berg Hansen said....


You had 64 *Mega* bytes RAM in your Commodore 64 - wow, what a souped up machine :-) Standard Commodore 64 was 64 *kilo* bytes RAM.

I started on the smaller Commodore VIC-20 with 5 kilobytes RAM (of which 3½ KB was usable for my programs :-)

That seems like ages ago...

But I tell you what - it taught us how to use resources sparingly. Many modern programmers don't care - they just use their Visual tools and create more and more bloated software :-(

(Sorry 'bout the rant...)

Thu Jan 29, 10:09:00 AM EST  

Blogger Ben Prusinski said....


Whoops, my bad- yep it was 64K of RAM on my Commodore 64 years ago. Wish it had 64MB that would have been a lot of fun. Actually, I have fond memories of going online with my 1200 baud modem before the internet was mainstream. That was fun.

Thu Jan 29, 09:46:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Bo Brunsgaard said....

Cue the four Yorkshire-men:

(I think I'm the one on the right :-)


Fri Jan 30, 02:38:00 AM EST  

Blogger HansBrink said....

The next time you visit Oracle / Redwood Shores, pop down to Mountain View and visit the Computer History Museum (no affiliation). That makes me feel old.

Fri Jan 30, 07:31:00 PM EST  

Blogger Joseph said....

I have one (at least) in a box somewhere at home. Not the paper holder any longer.

Mon Feb 02, 04:59:00 PM EST  

Blogger Doug Cowles said....

On a side note, how about posting a picture of your setup? Like this guy:
You must have a lot of cool monitors and backup systems.

Wed Feb 04, 04:26:00 AM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....


Wed Feb 04, 06:32:00 AM EST  

Blogger Drew said....

My 11 year old daughter makes me feel old all the time. Just recently she looked at a curly keyboard cord and said, "that looks like one of those old-time phone cords". Of course, I make myself feel old all the time. I like gadgets, and updgrade devices all the time. The other day I dug out a box of cassette tapes, and realized I didn't have anything to play them on. Not to mention my daughter didn't know what the tapes were ...

Wed Feb 04, 04:19:00 PM EST  

Blogger Smiley said....

Maybe this will make you feel better: My first program was stored on paper tape on a PDP-8. I didn't get to punch cards and IBM templates until several years later. :)

Mon Feb 09, 10:09:00 PM EST  

Blogger Noons said....

Bah! Not only do I have oe of these and still use it regularly, but I also have the HIPO varietion and one of the fold cards with all the Hollerith-ASCII-EBCDIC-octal translation tables and the 360/370 assembler instruction set in hexa for debugging abend dumps.

Now, quickly:
anyone know what all that means without looking it up in wiki?

Thu Feb 12, 03:19:00 AM EST  


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