[Beowulf] A press release

Robert G. Brown rgb at phy.duke.edu
Thu Jul 10 06:02:25 PDT 2008

On Thu, 10 Jul 2008, Gerry Creager wrote:

>> OK, in a minute you'll have me reminiscing about booting from paper tape
>> and havin' to drill me own 'oles wit' me teeth...
>> ;-)
> Glad you smiled with that.  Seems I find myself teaching an OS class all of a 
> sudden this summer.  I recounted my experience with an old HP system where 
> the boot-loader was toggled in on front panel switches and the OS was loaded 
> with paper tape.  The kids (whose language experience ranges from Java to 
> PHP, with C# thrown in for good measure) looked at me like I was reciting 
> either fiction or lore.

Aye, laddy, 'twas a PDP 1 with sense switches on the front that one did
indeed toggle in the paper tape boot program (to get it to where it
could read from other media), a green oscilloscope-style CRT for a
monitor (complete with crosshatches IIRC), a real teletype console, and
the ability to run simple fortran programs that did beam optic
computations and displayed a simple visualization of same.  The PDP
itself was quite large, and I was told that it "had a few bad bits..."
but that they usually didn't affect the outcome of a computation.

I was kidding about the teeth, though.

Next (if things go as they usually do) we all have to kid around about
IBM 5100's and QIC (floppies are just plain too modern for me:-) but if
I do that the Titorheads will attack and I'll have to once again
unconvincingly deny that I am, in fact, John Titor.


Robert G. Brown                            Phone(cell): 1-919-280-8443
Duke University Physics Dept, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
Web: http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb
Book of Lilith Website: http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/Lilith/Lilith.php
Lulu Bookstore: http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID=877977

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