Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Remember the good old days, pre-IT? (EAM). Remember all those old technologies?

Remember how things were done in the bad old days, even before the IBM 360 or even the 7090/7094?

When I worked for NBC as an applications programmer on their General Ledger system (1974-1977) in New York, on the Spectra 70 and then Univac 1110 (ASCII COBOL -- remember that?) one of the jobs was to convert the general ledger from owned stations from EAM equipment. This is called “Unit Record Equipment” or the “Electronic Accounting Machine”, as described here on Wikipedia.

Operators had to keep track of decks of punched cards, and manipulate the wiring of plug-boards. These had been common since WWII. Even when I went to work for an insurance company in 1990, a few people remembered how a few of the old ALC accounting applications had at one time been on plugboards.

As late as the mid 1970s, sales of keypunch equipment was a significant marketing activity at Sperry Univac, where I worked 1972-1974 in New Jersey.

Then, in the 90s, programmers who had been working in the savings and loan industry, which had gotten decimated by an earlier financial crisis in the late 1980s, told me of old technology, working with access methods like “UFAM”.

There were a lot of smaller companies in the 80s that had stuck with older technologies (the old IBM mainframe DOS with its DTF’s) and their programmers were often ill-prepared for the fast changes, relatively speaking, of the 90s, let alone today. I saw a lot of these resumes in the 90s.

And remember the PC job market around 1989 or so? People had things like dBase4 and rBase then, and FoxBase.

Wikipedia attribution link for IBM 402 plugboard picture, here.

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