Background - The Computer, and the Players

The Computer was an IBM 1800, a normally used process controller for laboratories and such, for control of laboratory equipment. It was then being used as a terminal server, controlling maybe a dozen teletypes, which were scattered around campus, and were used in various student labs and classrooms for Computing.

We were Student Assistants ("SAs"). There were maybe 6 adults, pitted against 3 students. Not even in numbers, but we were more than a match for the adults.

The Adults:

  • Computer Center Director and Instructor, Harris (a pretty kewl guy but an adult).
  • Computer Administrator, Harry.
  • Computer Operator and Manager, Tom.
  • Maybe 2 or 3 keypunch (data entry) operators.

The Students:

  • Newest member of the group, Chuck, a Sophomore, having finished a brief 1 month computer course, and newly recognised by Harris, the teacher.
  • Oldest member of the group, Keith, a Junior.
  • A previously recognised student, Tom, also a Sophomore, who had been recognised by Harris at the start of his Sophomore year.

Don't confuse Tom the Adult with Tom the Student, OK?

Anyway, this being one of the earlier years of computing (I graduated from college in 1973), Harry and Tom would run the various tasks of college administration during an early business day, starting at maybe 6:00, finishing anywhere from 10:00 to 14:00.

  • Tom, who I think was a retired farmer or something, would come in at 6:00 and take over Our Computer (well WE thought it was OUR computer), and run daily backups of the college database. When there wasn't scheduled end of month tasks, Tom could sometimes be persuaded to start a half hour or so late, if we were still hard at work, on a student problem, at 6:00.
  • Harry would get in at 8:00, and start the college administration data processing jobs.
  • Sometime before or after lunch (varying depending upon the amount of work to be done), Harry and Tom would unload the administration disks, lock the disks securely in the Vault, load the faculty / laboratory / student programs, bring the teletypes online, and then vanish from the Computer Center.
  • As soon as Harry and Tom vanished, we took over.


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