Sunday, April 05, 2009

Five miles, barefoot, in the snow, uphill, there AND back!

I suppose he meant nothing by it. Youth can be innocent. Those of us who are no longer youthful, at least chronologically, are unlikely to have the i-word apply as much as it might have in the past.

And, while I practice my own wide-eyed innocent look, I am certain I fool no people any of the time.

But even so. In the middle of the evening, eating what could only serve as "fuel" rather than "food", in an airport I described how I had the chance to visit CERN in the late eighties. Digital had a large contingent of amazing engineers there - not I, I was just a tourist - and I got to see one of their computer rooms.

I made mention of the banks of tape drives (reel and cartridge if memory serves).

The newest member of our team asked me how they worked. "Did they rewind and fast-forward to read the data?" he asked. And, I regret to say, he gave all indication that his question was serious.

I know I can still speak assembler. I know I still recall much of the instruction set of the PDP-11 and the VAX. I know I once, or more than once, loaded a (small) program in binary using the front switches on a DEC mini-computer.

But even so. I've never felt that old before.

I may never speak to him again.


  1. I remember all that stuff too. I was more the lowly computer operator/data analyst though, not a programmer. Never had the knack.
    Remember the old disk drives that were the size of a washing machine? Had the huge multi-platter stacks what held a whopping 350MB of data! Of, if the kids only knew.
    And don't forget the headwind. Both ways!

  2. Perhaps it's best to consign those memories to the deep.