Monday, October 26, 2009

IBM 1130

I attended Nichols College as an undergrad from 1965 to 1969. In the Fall of 1968 when I returned as a senior, there was a new IBM 1130 installed in the basement of Conrad Hall, a small building that contained the President's office.
Later that year, I think it was during second semester, I took the first and only course offered to students on this machine at the time - in FORTRAN programming. We wrote the code for our assignments on a special paper form that was green and white and had 80 boxes per line which corresponded to the 80 columns available on punch cards. I don't remember actually punching the cards so I think we left the sheets in a basket and came back the next day and the cards were wrapped inside the coding sheets. We then placed the cards in another basket and the jobs were run overnight. Ah, batch processing...
I learned FORTRAN this way but also that the machine was unforgiving. Any mistake, no matter how minor would cause the program to end abnormally (abend) and since we were limited to one run per night, we ended up learning to be very careful about error checking our code.
I was mildly interested in the computer and coding, but not enough to see the potential.

Thanks to my classmate, Ken Burrill, who wrote an article in the Nichols College magazine (see page 34) that refreshed my memories about all of this.

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