Monday, January 09, 2006

Flashing Back...

I saw these links on boingboing last week.  It is a slightly different model from what I had when I first started working – but is almost identical.  24 lines of text, 80 columns wide.  Green text on black.  I fondly remember the keyboard in particular.  I have never had a keyboard with the same sort of play.  They might have weighted 100 lbs, not something you would want to put on your lap perhaps – but the keyboard (which was cast iron) was phenomenal.  I learned to type very fast on that one.  Every keyboard since has been somewhat of a letdown.

It is funny how IBM appears to have invented the wireless keyboard though.  As I recall – they had some monster sized cables tethering them to the monitor.  Guess the cables didn’t look good in the picture.  In fact, IBM seems to have invented the wireless network and wireless electricity as well!

Consider typing in your code on such a device.  All Text – All the time.  No mouse.  You wanted to actually “see” your code more than 24 lines at a time – print it (this is where I started my “a subroutine must fit on a screen” mantra – the line printer was down the hall – up the stairs – down another hall).  Debuggers?  Hah – the code I wrote didn’t even run on the machine I wrote the code on.  We had to wrap the code in JCL – punch it to the MVS machine where it could be compiled (any errors, came back to your RDRLIST – like email).  Then, after it was compiled and linked down there, we could submit another JCL stream to actually run it.  It was all about instrumentation.


Blogger Niall said....

Tom wrote wireless electricity.

A nice smile for a booooring day.


Mon Jan 09, 08:54:00 AM EST  

Blogger shrek said....

anybody remember the VT220s? i remember writing an oracle forms application and going out to test it on the shop floor. the guy turned on the VT220 and smoke started pouring out of it and he says "don't worry, it's just the oil burning off." and the terminal worked fine.;-)

Mon Jan 09, 09:31:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Why is it, though, that people who grew up in that environment seem to be 5 times more productive than the generation which walks around doing instant compiles and "extreme programming" changes on their Blackberries?


Mon Jan 09, 09:34:00 AM EST  

Blogger Joel Garry said....

VT-52's made for strong hands to give good neck massages needed after tensely typing on VT-52's hours on end.

I do recall printing out way too much code that had to fit in way too little memory, laying it across the floor and arbitrarily drawing lines where to cut it into approximately the same sized modules.


Mon Jan 09, 09:35:00 AM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

When I first came to Oracle in 1993 - I had a dual monitor setup :)

monitor on the left - the trusty vt-100 orange screen that always worked.

monitor on the right - the biggest greyscale xterm I could find (the color xterms were not as large).

The vt was all about email, the xterm was everything else.

Mon Jan 09, 09:43:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

The styling of the 3278 terminals always kind of bothered me. They seemed to be reaching across the desk to get you. Very "Big Brother". I also recall that the display quality wasn't great, the characters used to kind of "wave" back and forth slightly so if you worked on it for any lenght of time you'd get a headache. But then I was young (pre-glasses) and probably thought it was cool to crank it up to 132 columns or something.... But I still rememeber that great klunk-klunk-klunk...

I think we had to move one once and it took two of us, and we probably violated health and Safety guidelines for lifting with only two people.

I also remember I was far more productive then... not because i was younger, but because i worked in REXX! sigh first real programming job and things have been downhill productivity-wise since then...

Mon Jan 09, 10:11:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

the trusty vt-100 orange screen that always worked.

Ah, yes! The eye-soothing amber VT-100 screen. They had them at the computer lab at school, whereas at home I had an Apple II-e with one of those horrid green screens and a blazingly fast Hayes-compatible 1200-baud modem. I had to trade off the relative convenience of being able to work at midnight, in my PJ's, at home versus waiting in line at school for less eye-strain and a faster connection speed.

We had a strict one-hour quota, after which we had to log off and let other students do their work. Some clever people took to changing the language to something really cryptic, like Finnish, and leaving the configuration screens up, thus denying anyone else the use of the terminal. Needless to say, I got really good at changing the language back to English by dead reckoning!

Of course, what was REALLY nice was when those new 132-column displays came out. I forget: was it the VT-102 or the VT-220?

Funny. Like Tom, I always try to keep my subroutines small enough to fit on the screen. In addition, I rigidly enforce the 80-column rule, so in a crunch I can print the code out legibly on a standard laser printer without problem line wrapping or truncation.

Bob Shepard

Mon Jan 09, 10:24:00 AM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

sigh.... REXX

the restructured extended executor...

It certainly was better than EXEC2 (which obviously was the follow on to the EXEC scripting language)...

How I miss REXX, and Xedit (as system tools - always there, like vi, grep, sed and awk are on unix...)

Mon Jan 09, 10:24:00 AM EST  

Blogger Jared said....

As long as we're waxing nostalgic, I fondly remember CASE 5 on unix.

True, it didn't have all the features of Designer 2000, but I could be much more productive on Forms 3 than on Des2k that requires a mouse to navigate anywhere.

Not that there are all many opportunities to use Des2k anymore.

As for the terminals, I wouldn't like to go back to them. Too hard on the eyes. Like Tom, I also like a lot of real estate, the more the better.

It's much easier to work with code when you can see a lot of it.

Mon Jan 09, 11:44:00 AM EST  

Blogger Bill S. said....

[quote]Thomas Kyte said....
How I miss REXX, and Xedit (as system tools - always there, like vi, grep, sed and awk are on unix...)[/quote]

I still have all my old REXX books. :-D. I also remember having my boss call me into his office once (I was an operator at the time) and make me promise to "spend less time playing on the system" (was coding stuff in REXX and EXEC2) because the SYSADMIN complained I was spending more time on it than SHE was.

BTW, don't think I ever mentioned how much I like the new look. Now you just have to get Niall to try it ;-P

bozfno - Man, I am NOT going there.

Mon Jan 09, 12:20:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Oracle Phan said....

Oracle 5 beta on VMS 4.0 using a VT100 in 1985. Life was good.

Mon Jan 09, 12:31:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

...maybe. Except when you had to pull the s/w off the TK("TimeKiller")-50 tapes and wait 30-40 hours before you could run the install scripts.

Mon Jan 09, 12:46:00 PM EST  

Blogger Peter K said....

Oracle Phan said....

Oracle 5 beta on VMS 4.0 using a VT100 in 1985. Life was good.

Amazing. In 1985, I was working with Oracle 3 doing IAP and Cobol with embedded SQL.

Of course, what was REALLY nice was when those new 132-column displays came out. I forget: was it the VT-102 or the VT-220?

Yep, both models but the VT-220 were nicer and I remember having to code escape sequences to turn on blinking, block, etc.

Mon Jan 09, 04:41:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I was 5 in 1985 so I was playing with blocks then ;)


Mon Jan 09, 04:45:00 PM EST  

Blogger Alberto Dell'Era said....

And I was in high school back then and using a similar terminal (the economic version, no wireless electricity) to ... play "space invaders" :)

Mon Jan 09, 06:01:00 PM EST  

Anonymous ray said....

Hey who remembers EDT and the numeric keypad for editing with the famous "Gold" key. After all these years my right hand still remembers all the editing commands.

My flashback... 1980 Oracle V2.0 on a PDP-11/44. Two Oracle SQL*Plus users and the machine would come to a grinding halt. Lots of coffee and reboots!

Mon Jan 09, 06:42:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Michael Olin said....

My first dumb terminal was a Lear Siegler ADM-7 (a big step up from the ADM-3) with a Novation CAT 300 baud acoustic coupler (by the time I completed my Masters, I had upgraded to a 1200 baud US Robotics modem that plugged directly into the phone line - the simple joys of typing AT commands on the dumb screen). I had a second telephone line installed in my dorm room, and since the 5 line modem pool for our Univac 1100 was on the same Centrex phone system, I could dial in for free. Of course, the computing center charged you for connect time against the amount you were allocated for each Computer Science class you were enrolled in. Being a teaching assistant came in handy, I was able to assign myself unlimited connect time. During the last two weeks of the semester, when there were hours-long lines of students waiting to get a terminal in one of the "Public User Rooms" (theater style classrooms with row after row of dumb terminals), I was connected 24/7. It's pretty amazing how much free beer a connected terminal with no wait could generate at the end of the term.

Somewhere around here, I have a 5.25" floppy disk with about 50 different sets of terminal configurations from the CRT utility in Oracle v4.1.4 (or maybe 5.1b). Each one had different combinations of display schemes (foreground color, background color, blink, underline) all painstakingly entered as escape codes.

Nothing like nostalgia for the good old days of CCF, IOR W, UFI and the good old IAF!

Mon Jan 09, 07:49:00 PM EST  

Blogger Rachel said....

Terminals? you all had terminals? LUXURY!

College - keypunch cards. Vying desperately for a keypunch machine. During finals and midterms, IF you were lucky, you got two chances a day to have your jobs read and run (made for very careful typing), I worked as an operator at the data center just so I could sneak in an extra turn or two.

My first job -- we had to handwrite the code on coding sheets, which were then sent to the data entry department which transcribed them to punch cards which were then read into the system and then and only then could you access your code "online". At the terminal farm down the hall.

Sigh.... memories of the "good old days" when programmers were REAL programmers and little green men in... oh wait, that's another movie altogether :)

Mon Jan 09, 08:47:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Key punch machines !

You were LUCKY !

When I were a lad, I used pre-perforated Hollerith cards and a knitting needle to punch the tabs out. AND it were three tabs per letter mostly.

Tue Jan 10, 05:06:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Geeeh, Am I on the veteran forum ?

Is here anyone younger than 38 ?? :)

There's only one thing from the past that I want to have back:

Pace 2.20 on the Wang!

Unbelievable 4gl functionality. I can't hold my tears....
After that I started with Designer/Forms. God, what have I done wrong...?

(Luckely I don't have to work on Oracle front-ends - the database is so coooool)

Bart from Berkel

Tue Jan 10, 06:37:00 AM EST  

Anonymous VR said....

I thought you guys may wanna check this one out
Looks like a cool gadget

Tue Jan 10, 07:48:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Thanks for the cool link Tom. Its always nice to hear about the state of things in the year I was born:)


Tue Jan 10, 08:43:00 AM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

in the year I was born:)

ouch, that is all I can say to that..


Tue Jan 10, 08:47:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Hey who remembers EDT and the numeric keypad for editing with the famous "Gold" key.

Oh, yeah! I worked with EDT back in my college days, when we did our work on a VAX 11/780. On my first job, I discovered the TPU editor, which had an EDT emulator which I could, and did, customize to my heart's desire. It was absolutely awesome the kind of macros I could program on the fly, to do all sorts of difficult ad-hoc edits.

Alas, somewhere along the line we moved from VMS over to UNIX, and I couldn't use TPU anymore. I experimented with Emacs Lisp, but never really got the hang of it. Thus, while I'm still using Emacs to this day, I've never been able to duplicate those macro-editing feats from my TPU days.


Bob Shepard

Tue Jan 10, 09:24:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Andrew said....

The last time my desk was that clear was the day I started work -- on a 3278 type terminal with a color (7?) screen. The mainframe days sure made good programmers. Learned lots of good habits then, like desk checking code. Had to learn that habit because during the old (very) EDS phase II training classes you only had 3 or 4 runs at the computer to get you project to compile and run. You had to learn to desk check because if you did not, you would likely fail at least one or two projects.

Of course, that is when we used to dismiss all new languages we encountered as JAFCIL (pronounced jafkill) for Just Another F(riendly) Card Image Language -- because the 80 column terminal was created to mimic the 80 column IBM card and the 132 column later version of the terminal allowed you to see a whole page of standard green-bar printout at one time.

Ahh. . . the good old days of real specs, peer reviews, desk checking, debugging built into the code -- or at least compiler preprocessor macros, and the POPs manual at your side. Hey, I still have my last (first and only) copy of "IBM System/370 Reference Summary" -- and still use it from time to time.

Now it is just drag-n-drop programming and complaining that it is a database problem when the tool generated sql does not work efficiently.

Tue Jan 10, 09:51:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Is here anyone younger than 38 ?? :)

C'mon geek baby,, let's rock,, gimme me ipod and u got my cool mac


Tue Jan 10, 01:19:00 PM EST  

Anonymous The veteran said....

You guys are betraying how young you are with these remarks ( including you Tom!).

The cool thing about the terminal models Tom noted was that devices like this replaced trips and turns on the card punch devices.

Sizing your routine to fit on a screen?

What about sizing your applications so that you could carry the whole thing without dropping the whole shooting match.


Tue Jan 10, 02:40:00 PM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Hey, I did punch cards (had to mail the cards downtown to have them compile).

I did TTY's at an RJE. Try editing your code (or anything) when you don't even have a screen, just a teletype.

They replaced those with these new "VT" thingys with screens as I was leaving...

Tue Jan 10, 02:42:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

When I started, VGA was Very Good Amber.

Tue Jan 10, 04:27:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

"we moved from VMS over to UNIX, and I couldn't use TPU anymore"

I you have a few dollars spare nu/TPU for the die hards

A free edt version for Unix/Linux

Tue Jan 10, 06:49:00 PM EST  

Anonymous paul said....

TTYs - yes, they were great compared to cards. These 'youngsters' probably couldn't understand 'backspace' on a teletype.

Anyone out there encounter buffoons putting 'spiked' cards into boxes of blanks to mess up your program?

Wed Jan 11, 04:43:00 AM EST  

Anonymous kev said....

All these people talking as if 3270s and vt220s are things of the past. Even if you don't use them yourself, just look at what everyone else has. Sneek a look behind the service desk at any Supermarket, Hotel or Bank and it won't take long to find a PC running a terminal emulator.

Remember block mode ? You typed a page full of information and pressed send, watched a clock ticking for 30 seconds and then got told about all the errors you had made, one at a time. Years later someone reinvented it and called it the internet.

Remember non-WYSIWIG word processing where you had to include formatting instructions within the text ? Years later someone reinvented it and called it HTML.

And how did we manage to get our primitive hardware in the 80's to run so much faster than the modern stuff ?

Wed Jan 11, 06:08:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

nu/TPU for the die hards

I remember nu/TPU. We actually bought a copy around 1994/5. Unfortunately, it "choked" on all of my customizations. It may have had a TPU-compatible macro programming language, but TPU had various "quirks" which I had programmed around over the years, and nu/TPU behaved differently. Also, I vaguely remember something about stability problems (program crashes). It was at that point that I abandoned the whole mess and started playing with Emacs Lisp. I doubt I can even find my TPU customizations anymore. The file is probably burned onto a CD somewhere in a sock drawer, and who knows if the CD is even still readable?

It's interesting that nu/TPU is still around; a/Soft's web page looks just like I remember it. That other link, to the free UNIX/Linux version, is intriguing. I'll have to look into it more closely. Thanks for the "heads up"!

Nowadays I use Emacs with a "vi" emulator called "Viper", under both UNIX and Windows. This gives me the advantage of lightening-fast "vi" edits coupled with windowing capability for graphical file difference analysis, plus on-the-fly macro recording when I need it. It isn't quite the same as TPU, but it's pretty workable. The "vi" editor has an absolutely brutal learning curve (the commands are cryptic, to say the least), but once I was up to speed it became my editor interface of choice. I tend to prefer using the keyboard to using a mouse.

Bob Shepard

Wed Jan 11, 09:59:00 AM EST  

Blogger Denis.Alex said....

It was a nice time in 1987 when with VT220, OracleForms 2.0 or 3.0 and a Vax/VMS with 16 Mb an Integrated Banking System was serving 64 online operators, many batch jobs etc. :-)

Wed Jan 11, 11:13:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Andrew said....

Paul mentioned backspace on a teletype. What I remember is the one's overpunch.

As for spiking a data card. Reminds me of the old 'Do not fold, spindle, or mutilate' that would be printed on things like the payment stub of utility bills, etc. Also reminded me of a time that some clown messed up the class registration system at my college by putting an EndOfJob card in the deck -- at that time, you had to get an IBM card for each class you wanted and turn it in with your own student IBM card. The EOJ card really messed things up because bunches of students never got their class registrations recorded and no one noticed until the first day of school.

Wed Jan 11, 11:54:00 AM EST  

Blogger DaPi said....

. . . and hats off to the guy/gal who invented opaque sticky tape - essential for mending & correcting 5, 7 and 8-track paper tape.

(Of course in MY day the data-centre was in a paper bag in the middle of the road.)

Wed Jan 11, 12:10:00 PM EST  

Blogger Gary Myers said....

"The file is probably burned onto a CD somewhere in a sock drawer, and who knows if the CD is even still readable?"

Depends on the state of the socks I guess

Wed Jan 11, 06:40:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Isn't magnetic induction "wireless electricity"?

Thu Jan 12, 06:43:00 AM EST  

Blogger Joel Garry said....

You betcha!

Thu Jan 12, 09:44:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I'm only 34, but my first full timer was loading mag tapes onto IBM mainframes and submitting jobs for developers and working with CICS. It was awful, huge clunky keyboards hideous green screens that hurt your eyes after an 18 hour shift. Line printers, dont get me started! Live for now, cosy multi window desktops and multi-processor boxes with plenty to spare for every one! Get plenty of resource to play with your ideas, although I must admit a liking for my old ZX Spectrum, 48K and an audio cassette for data storage....

Thu Jan 12, 10:52:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Tom,, How come there aren't new posts as frequently as before ?

Just like the free things you used, can you also tell us the Top 5 websites that you browse on a daily basis so all of us can share.

Thu Jan 12, 01:39:00 PM EST  

Anonymous doug c said....

Tom - this is unrelated to your post. I wanted to re-iterate my inquiry around the time you were in Prague (I couldn't find it with the blog search) for blogs about Oracle apps 11i. There are a lot of blogs about Oracle. I have trouble finding experts in apps. At the time, you were pretty busy, (surprise surprise), but you indicated you'd keep your eyes out for those kind of people. Do you have suggestions about that? Incidentally for the google people, I'm going to complain about a couple things keeping in mind that things don't improve unless someone complains. The search function doesn't work on all text. For example, if I search for "doug", I don't get any hits. Also, I am quite sure Tom at one point commented on the book "The Age of Spiritual Machines" which I believe he said was a bit far out, but I know it's here somewhere.. but having just read it.. I can't find anything on the blog search. So 2 questions for Tom - any apps blog people you know of? Also.. your archive doesn't go back to when your site started.. it's close, but no cigar. Are they going to delete your entries?

Thu Jan 12, 07:14:00 PM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Doug - sorry, I don't know of any apps specific blogs out there as yet.

As for the google search, I agree, it does not work very well. I use this: search-terms

and it works very well.

Thu Jan 12, 09:06:00 PM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

How come there aren't new posts as frequently as before ?

It hasn't really changed too much - every now and then I get so busy with other stuff that I cannot constantly create new blog entries. This is one of those times.

Thu Jan 12, 09:07:00 PM EST  

Blogger Noons said....

"Is here anyone younger than 38 ?? :)"

Sheesh! I can't even REMEMBER my 38th...

VT100s, 3270s, punched cards even! So, who here used punched tape on a Honeywell teletype? ;)

Editing those was good fun: it basically consisted of splicing in a length of blank tapee with black sticky tape over the cut-out ends, then sliding the lot back into the teletype and typing rub-out characters (special Ascii character invented by punched tape gremlins), followed by new code and then rub-out characters again over the end of the splice.

And it was supposed to save us time. No wonder I got into fishing...

Fri Jan 13, 12:44:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

All these people talking as if 3270s and vt220s are things of the past. Even if you don't use them yourself, just look at what everyone else has. Sneek a look behind the service desk at any Supermarket, Hotel or Bank and it won't take long to find a PC running a terminal emulator.

??? Who said they were a thing of the past ???

Fri Jan 13, 01:35:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Paper tape... hee hee... and hoped the machine wouldn't eat it!

Tue Jan 17, 04:01:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Hey Tom that first link back to the did bring back memories. I started out in manufacturing engineering at IBM and actually designed the testers for the memory cards for the 4331, 4341 and 308x machines. Ah, the good old days. Maybe one of these days I'll be able to part with my IBM XT PC in the garage...

Wed Jan 18, 05:26:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I did the cards at high school... I remember my first ever program looped...

And starting work with dumb terminals and then getting the first pc - wow, 8 clock speed and 10 meg hard drive - Then we got one with 12 clock and a 40 meg HD and a colour monitor! All for only AUD $8000 - There was no way we were ever going to fill that!

I still think it booted faster than what we have now...

But at least they're cheaper now!

Then starting at Oracle to find they were using Xterms and I was lost! When we started to upgrade to normal PC's my hand was in the air to be first while resistance was all around me!

Yet another to whom 38 is just a memory :-)

Wed Jan 18, 10:47:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

in my day, we only had ones and zeroes to work with

some didn't even have ones

Thu Jan 19, 11:24:00 AM EST  

Blogger Jared said....

In regards to comments that the ideal size of a function or procedure is no more code than will fit on your screen:

I was just looking at statspack code to determine why something was not working as I expected.

It's a little hard to follow, as the SNAP function is ~1500 lines.

Thu Jan 26, 01:05:00 PM EST  


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