For many years, I maintained a list of STSC Alumni and their email (no, not 666 BOX) addresses. But the email addresses were often harvested by spammers, so I have reluctantly removed it.
In July of 2008 I created an STSC Alumni group on LinkedIn, which is a sort of Facebook for professional people.
Join LinkedInand then join the STSC Alumni group.
I entered Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York in the fall of 1970. For the hell of it, I signed up for an "Introduction to FORTRAN" course in the school's fledgling Computer Science program. They had an IBM System/360 mainframe which was used by the administration during business hours, and in the early evening we students used punched cards and reams of 11x17 inch paper to do trivial things.
While waiting around for the system operator to deliver my job output (maybe 16 pages, pointing out a simple syntax error), I wandered down the hall and discovered a room with a few IBM 2741 terminals, which were based on the Selectric typewriter with its unique "golf ball" type element. Somebody was using one of them, and it was chattering away at the impossibly fast speed of 15 characters per second. The guy would type something and hit Return, and the machine would respond – immediately! It was love at first sight.
It turned out that these wonderful machines were connected by telephone to a mainframe running APL\360. This APL language used weird symbols, but I didn't care! I loved the interactive part of it. So I learned APL (largely from an online tutorial), taught an Intermediate APL course, and used APL for my senior thesis work in Economics.
Then I was told that there was a small company named Scientific Time Sharing Corporation that sold APL services and might want to hire me. I wanted to be a programmer but they made me be a marketing person – okay, but I still focused on programming. From 1974 to 1982, STSC grew from 30 to 300 employees, and sales of its APL*PLUS products and services peaked at over $30 million/year. It was a great period and the company had many amazingly clever and entertaining people.
Since then I have been self-employed, working on mainframes and personal computers with APL*PLUS, VS APL, APL2, and Dyalog APL. But I still have a soft spot for those old 2741 terminals. One detail I remember was that if your calculation was taking a long time, the system would twitch the typeball periodically to let you know it was still alive.
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