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extremely OT: Old Farts, Old Cybers, and thanks for all the fish

Greg writes:
> Heh.. The first system I worked on was a CDC 6600(S/N 32), single cpu/131K
> ...

We had a CDC Cyber 6600 at Tektronix, back in the mid 70's.  Used to talk
to it with punch cards, mostly, and used it for circuit simulations and
electron optics calculations.  There is nothing quite like dropping a
box of punch cards on the floor, even if you were smart enough to draw
diagonal stripes on the top edge of the card to help in the re-sort. 
Fortunately, circuit simulators are mostly line order independent.

The machine room was locked, but the console operators sometimes let
us in to the "Holy of Holies".  They had a control console with two
round CRT text displays, which even then looked archaic.  There was an
app that the operators ran to show off, that made an ASCII fish swim back
and forth across the display.  Fairly lame, but they were proud of it.  

One friday, on the way out of the H.o.H., I put a wad of paper in the lock
so it didn't close all the way.  I had measured the size of the console
CRT, and a friend in the Tektronix glass shop (where we made prototype
CRTs) was ready with a large CRT bulb the same size as one of the
console CRTs, with "modifications".  

That night, after the last operator shift had gone home for the weekend
(weekends off?  We *are* talking the old days) we credit-carded the lock
and began our evening's work.  We powered down one of the consoles,
dismantled it a bit, pulled out the CRT, and placed it in a padded box. 
The new "CRT" went in, then the water, then the bubbler hoses, then the
waterproof backlights, then the goldfish, then the stopper and putty.

The monday morning shift arrived to find ... well, you can guess what.
They were actually quite pleased with the mod, and wanted to keep it,
but management said no.  Just as well, fish are hard to feed through
a small hose.  After some guarded negotiations, a certain party was
contacted who just happened to know how to put the old CRT back while
nobody happened to be watching.  And this certain party had an aquarium
full of goldfish for some time after that.

I will probably see Andy Davidson, the CDC on-site maintenance engineer
in 1975, at the Portland Linux Unix Group meeting tonight.  I will remind
him of those days, and see how he remembers them.


P.S.  Those nice flat panel displays would make a good ant farm, 
assuming some young whippersnapper wishes to carry on the tradition.
Ob.Warning:  Don't let the ants get loose.

P.P.S.:  I used that old Cyber to dissassemble the BASIC on the Commodore
PET.  Really pissed off Bill Gates, personally.  The idiot forgot to 
include even a copyright notice.  But that is another story, which I will
reveal when the BSA arrives with bamboo splinters for my fingernails ...

Keith Lofstrom           keithl ieee org         Voice (503)-520-1993
KLIC --- Keith Lofstrom Integrated Circuits --- "Your Ideas in Silicon"
Design Contracting in Bipolar and CMOS - Analog, Digital, and Scan ICs

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