User:Rwwww/Bio

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Mystery Contributor[edit]

Just wondering if you would care to provide some biographical info... I know some people prefer to retain their anonymity, but it seems that you must date back quite a ways - like me :-) Maybe we worked together. Alternatively you are a university type who has made a study of ancient machines... Jpaulm (talk) 14:09, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

Began about 1958, summer student job, Ft. Huachuca Arizona (I'd always wanted to see the southwest and Ft. Huachuca is about as southwest as it gets). Programmed the IBM 650 (its a fun story, more than I want to type). Went to Los Angeles, worked 6 mo as a machine operator in a banks "IBM department" (I was out to learn and at that time had not yet learned that computers were "different"; it was all just IBM). Learned how a production punched card environment worked, learned to wire 407, 604. Joined Los Angeles IBM Service Bureau: operator, 650 programmer, 407 wirer (the whatever was needed job). Conscripted into army, two years in Washington DC US Army Personnel Research Office (lived beside Pentagon, an area now part of Arlington cemetery) programmed 1401, wired some 101, 407 panels. Moonlighted 1401 programming for Nat'l Academy of Sciences, Nat'l Capitol Parks & Planning. If any of that sounds important, it wasn't. Out of Army, into IBM Federal Systems in Bethesda, about 3 years. IBM Armonk, about 7 years, then IBM Palo Alto/San Jose. One year was spent on assignment at IBM's UK site in Hursley, England. Live in Cupertino, Ca. Declareded 100% disabled about 1994 with mental health problems, including obsessive/compulsive behavior - which is a good match for Wikipedia!

So I'm probably one of the few remaining that knows how to wire a 407 and program a computer - but only if the computer fills the room! The attraction of the IBM 650 (and 1401) was that all the running code was yours - you succeed or fail on your own; there was no one else to blame. Thought I had found a job where the machine would be the problem to be solved, wouldn't have to deal with people. Turned out, of course, to be exactly backwards - the machines were never a problem and people were always problems.

Sometime in 2006 I happened onto Wikipedia. Found the Punched card and Keypunch articles were chaos - both had texts belonging to the other, no structure. I'm not much of a writer, but am an organizer so I sorted them out, added some missing sections. Happy to say my organization has persisted to this day. Content deteriorates over time & I occasionally try to clean them up. I was a complete failure at trying to organize the Unit Record Equipment article. Even though I knew almost all the machines, couldn't organize the article to express how they were used. The approach I'll try (some day) will be to describe in detail the steps for a very simple application, say updating a file of loan balances.

Oh yes, I seem to acquire books. Still have the IBM unit record manuals, have dozens of 1950's computer books (about 1980 I happened onto a copy of "High-Speed Computing Devices" and decided, for no obvious reason, to collect all the computer books published in the 1950s). Don't have them all yet and they're getting harder to find.

Ah, occurs to me that you might have looked at the edit history for this IP address and have thought all those different areas with edits were of interest to me. What I've been doing is cleaning out the category tree tops for computing. Did "operating systems", "Computing", and "Application software" several years ago (look at Category:Application software and you'll see the outline I created to make it easier for me to locate categories - I also created many of the categories and constructed the tree - 2 years ago there was no tree (Business software had a tree,that was about it)). Just recently completed "System software". To slow down the dumping of articles into those categories I run a Google search every day for new (changed) articles in the last 24 hours with the word "software". Those that are, in fact, computing articles and uncategorized, I add categories to. If you thought I was some super-mind, active in all those areas, sorry to disappoint you! 69.106.242.20 (talk) 16:30, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

Fascinating! I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out we had run into each other - but we were probably just on parallel tracks. I joined IBM in the UK in 1959, and yes I know how to wire a 407, and my first computer was the 650! I moved to Po'keepsie in 1963, and Canada in 1968 - been there ever since. Some time this year, hopefully, I will have been programming for 50 years (still doing it)! Jpaulm (talk) 02:19, 11 April 2009 (UTC)