This question asked by one of my co-workers. No, she is not a “millennial generation” kiddo. Actually, we don’t seem to have a whole lotta those where I work. Go figger. She is my age or possibly just a leetle scrappy leetle bit older. Or maybe younger. I’m not sure. She and I are somewhere around the age where we throw out junk mail from the AARP and Cadillac vee-hickles. At least I do, maybe she doesn’t. I don’t keep my age a secret. If there’s a reason to say how old I am, I do. 54. Just like that. But I don’t broadcast it either. Why would anyone want to know? Anyway, she is my friend, a beautiful woman and wonderful mentor in this new journey I seem to have undertaken. But I still think she was being *way* polite asking that.
Yes. Sigh. I do definitely remember keypunch cards. Keypunched cards were our main data processing media back in what I now often refer to as something like “my old professional computer career back in the dark ages”. People would submit 80-column data entry sheets at our I/O window. We would log them in, our keypunch gals would keypunch the data onto those cards. And yes, they were always gals, although I did train myself to use one of those machines so I could pinch-hit. Oh yeah, I am a gal too. Then our computer operators would batch the newly keypunched data cards together with, well, what should I say here, a bunch of old folded, stapled, mutilated cards that represented whatever job needed to be run and, with a little luck, the job would process quickly and a printout would spit out. Or maybe not. We were connected to the U of M mainframe and sometimes it was down or hung or slow or whatever and even if the computer was working, sometimes the printer would die or whatever. And it was a different sort of printer than we have today. I could sit in the other room and tell by the sound it made what kind of report or whatever was being printed and sometimes I could even tell who had printed it. Ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-chunkity chunkity chunk.
I know that some of y’all who read this blahg cut your programming teeth on keypunch cards. I can’t even imagine having to type a Fortran (or assembly language?) program onto cards and hand it in to some dude and wait for him to hand me back about 200 pages of errors because I had made one blasted typo. I taught myself Fortran (IV) on a DecWriter II connected to that blasted U of M mainframe. I could go back in and edit my source code and re-compile it without re-punching a bunch of cards. If the mainframe wasn’t down or hung or whatever. That was light-years beyond what some of y’all *early* (70s) adopters had to do. And a quantum leap backwards from what we have nowadays.
I am outta steam but, yes, I am old enough to remember keypunch cards. In a lot of ways, I miss those days.