Friday, January 16, 2009

Computers are a Wonderful Tool but a Terrible Job

This is one that I coined myself. I first was exposed to computers when I went to BYU and started in my career as an engineer. It seems that for a long time my career was upside down.

I started working on a Digital VAX 11-750 running Berkley unix.

As time went on the VAX was changed by installing VMS, another operating system.

I began to work on my thesis and was given access to a PRIME 750.

I generated my graphics for my thesis on an Apple Macintosh.

I wrote the text for the thesis on an IBM PC.

I went to work for Martin Marietta a couple years after I graduated and then was able to use the Cyber.

When there was a downturn in engineering work I was given the opportunity to do orbital mechanics calculations and test on software written for RTOS.

The irony of all this is that the evolution of computers was almost completely backwards from my exposure.

RTOS (Real Time Operating System) -- used on small computers for machines

Cyber -- A water cooled computer that filled a room, had a flat file system, and required an operator to perform even the most basic of operations.

IBM PC -- The beginning of the desktop PC. It used an operating system that was stolen from another company and then re-branded IBM/DOS and subsequently MSDOS. A text based OS.

Macintosh -- a single user machine with a graphical user interface, prettier but slower and written for idiots.

VMS -- Operating system written by Digital (Microsoft Windows NT is supposedly a knockoff of the core of VMS) In my opinion this is a step down from unix.

unix -- an operating system that was originally written by Bell Labs employees for themselves. It grew through being distributed to universities and the changes then fed back into the OS. The mechanisms and methods are reflected in linux and are direct ancestors of the OS-X from Apple.


  1. You certainly have more experience with computers than I. My first exposure to computers was in Vietnam. There I operated a TRU. It's purpose was to read perforated paper tapes that are produced by teletypes and repair the dropped bits so they could be transmitted at a higher speed over a DSTE computer. I don't know what the operating system was, but every time there was a surge in the power, the thing would drop the program. It would be reprogrammed by running a mylar type through the tape reader.

    My teaching job exposed me to the Apple IIe. I took it home one summer, and spent most of the summer learning what software they had.

    Since then, I have worked with IBM PC's. I work in a unix environment through my internet connection.

    I haved enjoyed working with computers over the years, and they have provided a good livelihood to me.

  2. Many times in my life there has been an impetus to migrate me into the field of computer management. I succumbed a couple times. I learned quite a lot, but I still prefer to use the computers and not administer to them.


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