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hpr1811 :: Life and Times of a Geek part 2

Part 2 of my personal story of experiences with computers

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Hosted by Dave Morriss on 2015-07-13 is flagged as Explicit and is released under a CC-BY-SA license.
computer, programming, punched card, paper tape, teletype, graph plotter, Seymour Cray, CDC, Control Data Corporation, CDC 7600, Cray-1, ICL, ALGOL 60, FORTRAN, Pascal. 4.
The show is available on the Internet Archive at:

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Duration: 00:42:38

How I got into tech.

Started by monsterb, this series invites people to share with us how they found Linux. It has become traditional for first time hosts to share with us their journey to Linux. Indeed it has morphed to be way to share your journey in tech right up to your first contribution to HPR.


In the last part I told you of my first encounter with a mainframe computer and the Algol60 language while an undergraduate student at Aberystwyth University.

Today I want to talk about the next stage as a postgraduate student at the University of Manchester.

It seems to have taken me over 6 months to prepare this episode of this series, for which I apologise. I seem to get distracted as I do my background research.

Full Notes

Since the notes explaining this subject are particularly long, they have been placed here: and an ePub version is also available here:


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Comment #1 posted on 2015-07-13 04:26:33 by Charlie Ebert

hpr 1811 Dave Morriss

My father worked for Control Data. I started coding in Fortran myself in 1975 post Vietnam. I was very interested in hearing your experiences. I felt envious there were people who didn't have to punch up their own software. Charlie

Comment #2 posted on 2015-07-13 15:43:36 by Dave Morriss

Control Data etc

Hi Charlie,

Thanks for the comment.

Yes, we got stuff punched up for free by the Data Preparation staff, though I did learn how to operate a card punch and how to prepare a program card to automate some stuff.

You should do an HPR show about your experiences!


Comment #3 posted on 2015-07-13 17:17:25 by Mike Ray

Punched cards in a box

Great stuff Dave.

In the emergency queue there's a show I did about a thing I made out of an empty cereal box, some of my mum's knitting needles and some punched cards when I was about 7, under the supervision of my brother who is more geeky than me.

It was like the thing you described. Pulling a knitting needle out of the box made a card drop out of the bottom that corresponded to the needle pulled out. I used bamboo skewers in the show version.

In COBOL I seem to remember the sequence numbers were in columns 1 to 6. Column 7 was an asterisk for a comment, a solidus for a continuation, or nothing.

Comment #4 posted on 2015-07-13 21:44:55 by Dave Morriss

Notched cards and COBOL

Hi Mike,

Glad you liked the episode.

Your emergency show sounds like fun. My kids would have liked that when they were young. I'm sad we didn't think of something similar.

I had forgotten the layout of COBOL cards, but I only ever wrote about two programs in it, and that was just for amusement!

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