[cctalk] Re: TOP POSTING

Rob Doyle radioengr at gmail.com
Sat Dec 12 12:45:43 CST 2015

On 12/12/2015 6:22 AM, Mike wrote:
> The one question I do have for the older gentlemen on here is what
> in the world did the computers without a screen to look at do? Now I
> know about the tape, cassette tape's and even the paper with the
> hole punches in them but what kind of applications were they use
> for? Mathematics or? ? ?

I have close friend that related a story to me the other day.

In his younger days he worked for a military contractor that
manufactured inertial reference systems for military aircraft.

They used a bare naked PDP-11 (just lights and switches) as part of
final acceptance test. Over the years, he got quite adept and
manipulating the switches and reading the lights during the four hour test.

One day a government auditor noticed that he was performing the final
test impossibly faster than the 'standard' amount of time and concluded
that he was not testing the unit per the procedure and that the big
defense company was in violation of their government contract. To say
this was a *big* deal is an understatement.

When he was called to the plant manager's office, he offered to prove
that he was following the test procedure to the auditor and anyone else.

The first attempt to demonstrate the test procedure was a complete bust.
Every time he manipulated the switches or read the lights, the auditor
would interrupt him so that he could compare the front panel switches
and lights to the test procedure. He could not do the test with the
constant interruptions - he'd get lost and confused. Now he was getting
a little scared.

He finally convinced the auditor to video tape the final test procedure
so that he could perform it uninterrupted. He, the plant manager, and
the auditor reviewed the video tape - pausing the tape as necessary -
and concluded that he actually did perform the test procedure as required.

He mentioned that manipulating the switches was committed to muscle
memory and it was like playing the piano.

As a reward for his efficiency, the auditor attempted to reduce the
'standard' amount of time for the product - thus reducing the amount of
money that the government would pay the contractor for the service.
After all, if he could perform the test that fast - anybody could...

Rob Doyle

More information about the cctalk mailing list