Mixsonian

First Computer Experience

My first introduction to computers was with my Dad. In 1970 the University of Florida offered a free, one night a week, course in Fortran programming. My Dad, an old friend of the family, Paul Dixon, an friend of mine, Bill Ritter and I signed up to take it. The first few classes covered the basics including how to use the key punch to create punch cards with the programs on them, what columns things had to be punched in and the basic Fortran statements. The first programs were five or six lines long and were pretty much written out by the instructor on the blackboard.

Fortran Punch Card
Unpunched Fortan Card

We then would go to the keypunch and type the programs in. This was in the days of "Batch Processing" on a IBM 360. The batch processing process involved taking your punched cards and putting them in a tray in the computer center lobby with everyone else's programs. A computer operator would come out every 15 minutes, pick up the tray and take them into the computer room. Anywhere from 15 minutes to a half hour later the computer operator would come out with your cards and the print outs and file them in filing trays. We would then get the printout, see what kind of errors it had, re-punch the cards and start over again. Sometimes it would take days to get a few a dozen line program to work. I don't think Dad or Paul finished the course but I did. I thought it was the neatest thing. I took the course two or three more times mainly just to get computer time to play with. I had learned Fortran fairly well by then.

Certificate 1970

Fortran Certificate