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Want to save your 8 KB program? Please, wait between 30 mn and 3 hours... This was one of the various difficulties encountered in the daily use of computers in an Academic Computer Lab, in 1978.

At the time, Jerald W. Burnett was the computer lab manager of Cameron University of Lawton, Oklahoma. He recalls:

My memory of the Computer Lab in Burch Hall 1978 is still fairly vivid. I had just graduated from Cameron with a BS in Business Administration and had experience in electronics from my 4 year Navy Enlistment. At that time electronics experience was valued as the Lab Manager did troubleshooting and maintenance on various equipment. In particular, the ADM3 terminals were very susceptible to damage during lightning storms. It was not unusual to replace the 'line driver' chips in several terminals after storms.

Equipment in the Computer Lab in 1978: 12 IBM 029 keypunch machines 3 ADM3 Lear Siegler Video Terminals 1 Line Printer 1 Card Reader 1 HP2000 Computer 1 Paper Tape "Flyreader" 1 Teletype Machine

In July of 1978 the Academic Computer Lab was in a little room in the basement of Burch hall and had three Adm3 video terminals, about 12 IBM029 Keypunch machines, a card read and a line printer that were connected to an HP2000MX that emulated an interactive session on the HP3000. The HP2000MX was an 'interesting' device. The way we were set up, it had to be loaded daily (sometimes more often) from a paper tape.

We had an old teletype machine that would duplicate the paper tapes from a master copy and could also be used to read the tape and load the program from it into memory. I think it ran at 110 baud! We also had a 'flyreader' that would read the paper tape at a speed of 600 baud. Students would write their programs, key their programs on the 80 column punch cards and then put them at the back of the card tray. A student worker would closely monitor the card reader and add jobs to it from the front of the card tray. On a good day, you might get a run in as little as 30 minutes. Around the end of the semester? Sometimes around 3 hours. Thorough desk checking was encouraged to minimize the number of re-runs.

Those keypunch machines were a persistent source of problems. Someone would get a card jammed and it could take 30 minutes or more to get all the little pieces of it cleaned out. First you attempt to pull it out in one piece. Then, you get the little spring-steel device that has a hook on one side and saw teeth on the other and do what you can with it to dig out the rest. If that is not successful, you start removing pieces from around the card path to provide better access. As a last resort, it's time to call the IBM repairman. We saw him on a pretty regular basis for one reason or another - all dealing with the keypunch machines.

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