Me and the computer

(Io e il calcolatore)

A chronological account of how I met computers. Updated on 12 Nov 10 18:07
[hardware] [software]

Hardware

YearsMachineOS
1955-1970 When I was born, computers were called electronic brains, and were sort of mythological things full of valves.
1970-1975 In the lyceum (secondary school) it was a privilege to have access, in after-hours, to the mechanical calculator (you know, those crank-operated things) of the Physics Lab.
I met the first calculator, an HP 31 with RPN, in the 4th class, when a school-mate, son of a scientific journalist, brought a sample one for a few days. BTW, his father did not buy it. We used to go to trade fairs to make practice with the things.
1975-1980 At University I attended a course on computing machines in the 2nd year of Physics. We had opportunity to practice on an Univac 1106 at the Computing Centre, and later at the Didactic Centre (where one had to queue up for use of a couple of card punches). I continued sneaking for the access code in the remaining years. I once tried something I read on a book, and messed up the entire mass memory.
At courses we still used a sliding rule. I got my first RPN calculator, an HP 29C, when I graduated (it was later replaced by an HP 28S when it was accidentally dropped on the floor).
UnivacOS
1980-1985 Access to IFCTR HP2100 (with paper tape programs) to write a magtape
Remote use of the IBM 360 of RAL from MSSL, first with remote card punch, later via...
...use of the terminals of their PDP 11/70, also used a Tektronix 4010, and a Versatec printer/plotter
They also had an IBM 1130
Use of the IBM 370 of IFCTR, with terminals (inclusive of Olivetti teletypes, and a Tektronix 4015) and a Houston calcomp plotter.
Use of my first HP 1000 F at ESOC
Use of PDP 11/40 at Huygens Lab Leiden
HP ?
OS 360
RSX
VM/CMS
RTE IV
1985-1990 Continued use of HP 1000 F (and M) at ESOC, and IFCTR ; with HP2648 terminals, Ramtek TV, and later HP 7550 plotter and Laserjet.
Continued use of IBM-370 compatible systems (Fujitsu, Siemens) at IFCTR, first experiences with a RJE link. 3820 laser.
First Horus (CP/M) PCs
Access to IBM PC-AT for instrument data acquisition
Finally IFCTR got also a VAX 8250 with 4 VT340 and an LN03
RTE 6VM
VM/CMS
CP/M
MS-DOS
VMS
1990-1995 end of use of HP 1000 F and IBM 3090
Continued use of the VAX 8250
IFCTR got its first Sun 4 (SPARC) workstation
I also got a Mac IIsi for document preparation
Finally I also got some DECstations
RTE 6VM
VMS
SunOS 4
Mac Sys 6
Ultrix
1995-2000 Continued support to our Suns and DECstations
Dismission of IBM, VAX and DECstations
My current platform is DEC Alpha 255
I also had access to an Olidata NT server and other NT machines for the VIRMOS MMU project.
SunOS 4
Solaris 2
Ultrix
DU 3.2
WinNT
2000-2005 Continued support to our DECstations and, in a limited way, to Suns and Linux systems
My current platform remains DEC Alpha 255
Access to PC applications from Unix via VNC or Open Office
Solaris 2
DU 3.2
Linux SuSE
2005- Continued support to our Linux systems
My current platform is SUSE Linux
Access to PC applications from Unix via Open Office or occasionally on borrowed laptops.
Linux SuSE
Windows

Software

Programming and scripting languages used, choice of text editing and word processing tools used, kind of programs written are listed here. For Operating Systems see above.

Years Languages Text edit & processing Programs written
1975-1979 Fortran V (Univac)
EXEC8 control language
card punch tests and exercises
1980-1982 Fortran (IBM360)
JCL
Electric
card punch
Electric
private programs
1982-83 Fortran (PDP)
RSX CMD files
EDI, EDT

Runoff

private programs
Exosat calibrations
1981-199x Fortran IV (IBM)
VM/CMS EXEC and EXEC2
seen some Assembler 360
(X)EDIT

VS Script

private programs
IUE system at IFCTR
Exosat system at IFCTR
1982-199x Fortran 77 (HP)
FMGR TR files
IHAP batch files
seen some HP assembler
EDITR, EDIT/1000 Exosat system at ESOC
Exosat system at IFCTR
IUE system at IFCTR
plotting programs
1986-90 ? minimal CP/M
first met C
WordStar documentation
Zebra control s/w
1988-89 ? IBM Professional Fortran
DOS assembler
DOS BAT files
KEDIT Zebra calibration s/w
1989-199x VMS Fortran
VMS COM files
some limited VMS C
EDT, EVE XAS system
IUE system port
199x-now Excel (on Mac)
Mac macros
MS Word just documentation
1990-now Fortran 77
some C, Xlib
MIDAS PRG procedures
IRAF cl scripts
Unix csh scripts
awk scripts
PostScript
HTML
IDL
Sun textedit
few vi commands
DEC dxnotepad

compile foreign tex files

XAS system
IUE system port
EPIC simulations
1996-2000 Excel (on NT)
 
Visual Basic (on NT)
MS Word
PowerPoint
just documentation
 
VIMOS MMU s/w
2000-now Javascript
Java
mysql
and most of the above
THE (Hessling editor, XEDIT clone)

Open Office

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