[SIGCIS-Members] Call for "paper"

Dag Spicer dspicer at computerhistory.org
Wed Sep 2 09:00:20 PDT 2015

Woz still has his Apple II hardware and software design notes… in a binder, on paper, handwritten.  He has shown them to me.  The most obvious observation on this theme is that in the days of “cards and paper” computing, with its limited memory and a code-exeute-debug cycle measured in days, people took much longer to code and were more deliberate in writing software. In theory, people could write better software.  In practice, programmers often just spent hours and hours waiting with nothing to do.  (A related issue: modern-day programmers often explain their lack of apparent activity at times by saying “I’m compiling right now.”  Managers invariably accept this as sensible and valid… even though it’s a running joke among programmers that the benefit of this explanation is that it really just gives them a bit of downtime to relax).

A general observation about card and paper computing in the 1960s: Bob Bemer, I think (paraphrase): "Computers cost $600 an hour; your time (as a programmer) costs $12 an hour.  Guess what we’re optimising for?”

Dag Spicer
Senior Curator
Computer History Museum
Editorial Board, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing
1401 North Shoreline Boulevard
Mountain View, CA 94043-1311

Tel: +1 650 810 1035
Fax: +1 650 810 1055

On Sep 2, 2015, at 6:38 AM, dave.walden.family at gmail.com<mailto:dave.walden.family at gmail.com> wrote:

I have a vague, perhaps wrong, memory of Woz's autobiography saying he wrote code in notebooks for machines he was imagining.

Sent from my iPad

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