Display-less computing was Re: TOP POSTING

Robert Rissell rrissell at gmail.com
Sat Dec 12 08:46:51 CST 2015


One of the key manners of getting information processed was batch jobs run
by the computer staff.    You never see the computer at all.

Individual programs (usually one at a time - using the whole machine for
one program) were loaded, pointed at input files, run and then unloaded
with the
output file or a printout as the end result.

Some of the batch jobs did such tasks as:

Sorting the input file
Adding account information to a ledger in a bank
Calculating what is going to happen in a simulated physics problem
Calculating trajectories of artillery shells
Calculating Averages, Means and Standard Deviations of Statistical data
Generating form letters based on an input list of names and addresses and
printing them out

The batch job consisted of a Batch Number for accounting, the keyword-coded
header card(s) to tell the computer what to do with the following cards
such as Compile, Link, Execute then Output for a Fortran source.    Any
options are read in from the input file or set in the source file.   This
was often
done by preparing stacks of cards with the input or control options and
putting them in with the source deck.   Then there was a card indicating
the end
of the source file.    Following the source you would find the cards
listing the input for the program, such as a list of accounts and amounts
to be added
together or sorted.  Last you would find a specially punched control card
to indicate the end of the batch job card deck.

The total amount of CPU time taken to accomplish the batch job would be
tracked and printed out for accounting at a rate per CPU second.   This rate
could vary based on priority or time of day.   So it was in your best
interest to write efficient programs.    Your source and input deck was
returned to
you in a cardboard tray together with any resultant punched cards, paper
tape or printouts (usually on fan-fold paper).   If there was an error
during the run,
any error messages are returned to you for resolution.   Error messages
were usually in English, but your output could just be a stream of numbers,
or sometimes a printed out graph or picture, line by line.

What the computer did as a job was hopefully something that was not easier
done by hand.


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