[LMB] OT: Old mainframe computers

Mark Allums mark at allums.com
Wed Jul 29 09:24:35 BST 2009


Peter Granzeau wrote:
> At 01:33 AM 7/28/2009, Mark Allums wrote:
>> Peter Granzeau wrote:
>>
>>> I always thought my crowning achievement was The Game of 
>> Life in COBOL, using a card deck for the initial position
>> and printing the generations out on the 1403 line printer.
>> It took about 30 seconds per generation.
>> Wow, not a large program to write, but still: how masochistic!
> 
> Yeah.
> 
> My other achievement was on my TRS-80 Model 4.  I do Jumble puzzles in the morning paper, sometimes I just get stuck and can't see a word in those letters, so I wrote a program in BASIC (digression--is that BASIC or Basic?  I don't remember) that would take any number of letters and return every possible arrangement of those letters.  For 5 letters, it's an easy scan to find a real word, for 6 letters, it's harder but doable.  Jumble doesn't go to 7 letters, thank Ghod.  It was all done by calling subroutines from within the subroutine, something that TRS-80 BASIC (and GWBASIC) could do as long as there was memory available.   Later, I was never able to understand the code I had written.  I still have the program, but the Internet Anagram Server does the job better and only gives one the real word(s) it finds.

It was BASIC, now it's BASIC when talking about older dialects, and 
Basic when talking about newer ones, like Microsoft Visual Basic.

I was proud of some of the stuff I wrote, but nothing stands out.  From 
a language standpoint, I took Advanced COBOL, and learned JCL and all 
that, but I never came to love it.  I'm a bit of a younger generation, 
and microcomputers were my thing.  I feel much more at home with 
C/C++/C#/Java.

The most memorable thing I did was an industrial simulation I wrote, 
where several variations of an assembly line were each tested, looking 
for the most efficient configuration.  I couldn't duplicate that effort 
today if my life depended on it.  The same is true of the expert system 
I created for a class, and for the toy compiler I wrote for a class.

Another thing was a text adventure, known nowadays as Interactive 
Fiction.  It was terrible.  But I derived a lot of satisfaction creating it.

Mark Allums




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