Another snowy day in Boston. Luckily it is Sunday, and this provided a perfect opportunity to go up and clean out the attic.
What should I find but my old class notes from the spring of 1969, a course entitled "Information Systems" -- "1.00," in MIT parlance -- taught by a wonderful professor named Dan Roos who, by coincidence, I happened to run into recently.
We used an IBM 360 computer in those days. It took up an entire room and probably had less memory than your cell phone does today. You would write your program in Fortran -- an example from my final project is shown in the bottom picture above. Then, you would punch Hollerith cards to encode the program on a medium that could be read by the computer. I show several above, along with a diagram they gave us to show what fields were punched by which key on the punch machine. The machine used a hexadecimal numbering system, so we were expected to be conversant in base 16 -- delineated as 0-9 and A-F.
After keypunching, you would hand your batch of cards to the system operator, who would feed them into the computer. Depending on your priority in the queue, you would wait five minutes or an hour for the program to be compiled by the computer, only to discover that you had made a programming error, a keypunch error, or had a hanging chad on one of your punch cards. The problem, of course, is that you didn't know which of the three problems had occurred!
Class 1.00 is still taught at MIT. Here is the description of the 2005 class from MIT OpenCourseWare. Every one of those desktop computers you see in the picture has a gazillion times (whether in base 10 or base 16!) more capacity than the old IBM 360. By the way, Fortran still exists, but these kids get to use Excel and Java instead. Seems a bit too easy to me . . .