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Remote Computing (Part 2)

It is 1968, the last of 2 years that I worked at the University Computing Company (UCC); a lot of learning happened. Sam Wiley wanted to make good on his promise of remote computing that he made to his customers, like Shell Oil. Remote computing in 1968 meant that a customer had punched card reader, a printer and some communications equipment in his office to submit batch jobs to a regionally centralized UCC data processing center; thus eliminating the "Amazon" like one day turnaround I provided by truck at CDC the year before.

Sub Skill #7 - Continuously Seek Learning Opportunities While They Exist. They may not exist forever.

I learned to be a programmer by helping customer programmers fix errors while delivering printer output and picking up card deck input at CDC. I increased my pay by 300% in 3 years, 100% per year, and I was having fun. The success of remote computing would end this opportunity for others.

To offer Remote Computing, we installed the same communications equipment as the customer, completing the connection of the customer's card reader(s) and printer(s) to a new Digital Equipment PDP-8 computer that queued customer input into the Univac 1108 Mainframe computer. The Univac 1108 was a sophisticated mainframe hardware system, hardware that had multiple cpus that could perform execution in multiple threads if the operating system (OS) software were written to do it. The current OS was written by Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) who was regarded as the best system software developers in the world. Their software and documentation was considered the best in the computer industry. I know I considered it way better than other documentation I had seen, but my career was just getting started. CSC is rumored to be working on Computer Sciences Timesharing System (CSTS) that will take advantage of all the powerful new features found in the Univac 1108. I spent several months in support of the PDP-8 development team. The work was very tedious and took many long hours "trying to force 10 pounds into a 5 pound bag".

Sub Skill #8 - Get Exercise, look after your health

A 27 year old consultant who worked long hours without exercise died of a heart attack during the development.

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The UCC Computing Centers had many large tape drives that where used to input and output data during execution of customer programs. Sadly this did not prove useful for Shell Oil, Shell applications needed random access to oil field data. They required UCC to install a Fastrand Drum, a new Fastrand II fixed prior problems and the 88 megabyte storage would meet Shell Oil needs. However, the handler, interface software did not exist the Univac 1108 OS. The 4 amigos from Boeing were busy, so I volunteered to develop the software, my first big OS system software development task.

I got a lot of support from my Boeing now UCC Mentors. The handler did everything Shell Oil needed and even got distributed to other non UCC Univac 1108 OS systems.

Time for the next learning experience.

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