I suppose 360/370 goes in the "mainframe" group - aren't those the epitome of "mainframe"?
I, too, miss the minis (like PDP-11, ND-100) and superminis (like VAX, ND-5000). Also. lots of us in the 50+ age range have programmed calculators such as TI-58/59, HP-41C. (I even programmed a "database" application on a desktop calculator with tape casette for program storage and data base, running on 230VAC.)
I wonder how unique one of my programming experiences are: Microprogramming a 2901.
For those who don't recognize the number: 2901 was s 4-bit "bit slice" processor that could be lined up, say, 4 in a row to make a 16 bit CPU, or 8 to make a 32 bit. The ALU was fairly complete for its time (e.g. with carry-out and carry-in, handled automatically), but lots of the execution logic and signals to other units were external. Microcode RAM was external: In our kit, a 16 bit by 64 unit, with 16 flip switches and a "deposit and advance" pushbutton. In our student project, with a single 2901, if I remember right, the task was to create an input instruction, and add instruction and an output instuction, so that we could write a "high level" machine code program (again, by flipping binary switches and pressing "deposit", but that was in "real" program code, not microcode!) for reading two 4-bit numbers, add them and output the sum to four red LEDs.
We were students of programming, not of electronics, so I never had any direct use of this experience. Neverhteless, when I explain e.g. the programming of a vectored interrupt mechanism to a youngster, I realize that having touched this kind of things, at least with your fingertips, makes it a lot easier to make sense of how these more fancy machine mechanisms operates.
My experience has been limited to 8-bit (or more) processors. I imagine that programming a 4-bit processor to do something useful (e.g. like Intel's 4004 in the Casio calculator) must be a real challenge.
EDIT: the calculator was actually produced by Busicom, another Japanese company.
If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time - a tremendous whack.
Hmm. From the top: HP 1000 minicomputer, IBM 360 mainframes, DEC PDP-11 mini, DEC VAX-11/780 superminis, Data General Nova 4, 8085 microprocessors, Z-80 microprocessors, 6800 microprocessors, 8088, ...
I'm obviously not quite as grey-bearded as you, but minicomputers were an obvious omission for me, as well as 80's "Workstation" class unix boxes that were meant for a single user, but more closely related to minicomputers than to desktops of the era. I started my career writing assembly language on Data General MV Series, and also did a stint writing assembly for DEC VAX. Before either of those, I spent a few months each working on IBM Mainframes (as an intern) and early Silicon Graphics IRIS workstations (as a temp tech support person at SGI). I think the distinction between mainframe and minicomputer is completely lost on most people who didn't actually work on them.
I recognize a number of those machines but I've only messed with the PDP-11. I'm an electrical engineer that got interested in microprocessors back in the 70's. Basically all my 'real' programming has been in the embedded world. 6800 family, 8080, z80, 8051 and derivatives, 68000 family, TI DSPs, TI Tiva family and numerous Windows utilities and scripts. Low level programing and DSP algorithms are the most 'fun'.
Thanks for the culpa acknowledgement. (4 years of Latin, too). I think there were more women in tech back in the 60's than there are now and as I have aged I find myself more alert to male forgetfulness.
I don't think of myself as a witch but I do enjoy being a crabby old lady who can still code, in C++ rather than assembler.
I prefer the spelling grey; it just seems gloomier.
You are correct. Back when I started in programming, there were more women programmers. Over the years, one by one they dropped by the wayside and were not replaced by new college graduates. HR offices at companies where I worked were not getting enough applications from women and the trend was downward.
In addition to the pressures mentioned in the article, there is the question of terminology. As long as it was called "computer science," it was at least somewhat attractive to women. When they started calling it by the more masculine term "software engineering" or "computer engineering," it became a total turn-off.
Also, inside companies there was (and often, still is) pressure to "move up the ranks" or move out. Many of us did not and still do not want to be a manager — we want to program! This resulted in a Hobson's Choice – either one of us had to become manager or they brought in some idiot from the outside who did not understand what we did. Either way, the result was often a poor manager who drove many of us into new jobs or other lines of work. While this thinned the ranks of both men and women, because there were fewer women, they virtually disappeared.
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One more for the list: MODCOMP 16 Bit Minis used heavily by NASA and the military. Mostly Fortran for my work, but they did have a COBOL compiler also. I'm still working on them today. Two machines 35 years old and still humming along.
"No good deed goes unpunished."
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