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First experience with a computer system

by Neil Stanley published Mar 11, 2010 01:00 PM, last modified Apr 05, 2011 11:05 PM
Programming with punch cards in school in 1970

This was in the sixth form of a Grammar School in Kent in 1970. A new general studies option was programming. We wrote (very simple) programs in Fortran; then had to use 'port-a-punch' machines to code the information onto cards. These 80 column punched cards had 40 pre-loosened columns of holes - you placed them in a holder and used a stylus to punch out the holes, encoding the ASCII for the letter you wished to use. The cards were then sent off by post (to Medway Tech I think) and came back with a print-out which commonly hadn't worked. You then corrected the errors and tried again - turnaround was at least a week. Towards the end of term we were told we were going to use 'arrays' - I wondered why we wanted to rub things out (SMP called them matrices, you see). This experience led me to studying Maths and Computing at Uni (Surrey) and then training (Preston Poly) to be an Maths and Computer Studies teacher (in Cheshire). I've never really escaped.

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