Mixsonian Larry

Student Programmer

In the September I checked in with the University Computing Center (UFCC) and found they had an opening for a student programmer, so I quit the job in the Soils Department and once again was working at the at UFCC making $1.90 an hour working for Don Cruse.  This was a step up from my job when I worked there before as a student operator.  While the operators worked downstairs in the main computer room, the programmers worked upstairs in a set of offices directly over the lower computer room.  In the center of the computer room was an open staircase to the offices above which, as a student operator, I seldom and any reason to go up.  As a student programmer I had reached a new level, job wise and literally, I now worked upstairs, but did go down and visit with some of the operators I knew and to pick up printouts.

My boss, Don, main job was writing programs to  process data for faculty at the University using the MARK IV programming language.  MARK IV was considered a “modern”  fourth-generation programming language and was much easier to program in than COBOL that was widely used for business applications.  I didn’t consider MARK IV a real programming language like FORTRAN or even BASIC, it was more of a data processing and reporting system.  I learned MARK IV quickly and was soon writing “programs” in it for Don.   MARK IV wasn’t much of a challenge for me, so I begin learning on my own how to program the IBM 360 in the most fundamental of languages, Assembly Language.  As student programmer I had a free computer account and could run all the programs I wanted, my boss, Don, encouraged it.  Even better there were several fulltime computer programmers at the center, including the ones that developed their first timesharing system.  One of the most senior programmers, Mike, would often help me.  Mike was probably in his late thirties, long hippy hair down to his shoulders, he was a quiet guy, and I was hesitant at first to ask him for help with assembly language, but he seem to not mind.  There were a good group of full time programmers working there and they all were happy to teach a new student programmer like me. 

Updated: 12-14-2022