Friday, February 27, 2009

The web of memories

CDC 7600 Core Memory
CDC 7600 Core Memory,
originally uploaded by stiefkind.
We still talk about core dumps nowadays, but back when I was in grad school using the Control Data 7600 (and, before it, the 6600), they actually used these hand-woven magnetic core arrays. We would submit our batch jobs to be run on the Cyber, and some time later on we would pick up our lineprinter output (green bar paper fan folded and perforated for tractor feed) set out in cubbyholes between the computer room and the outside. Or we would run a program to show graphical output on a monochrome Tektronix terminal and capture screens to be printed on a thermal printer or onto microfiche. At the time, we didn't even realize how cumbersome it was.

It is almost as if we lived during the time of dinosaurs. Towards the end of my time in grad school the first Macintoshes came out at the student co-op, themselves also museum pieces.

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