Ready! #atozchallenge

IBM 3279 terminal, like I used to use. Source: Retro-Computing Society of Rhode Island / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Ready or not, here we go… Welcome to the 2020 Blogging from A To Z April Challenge!

When I started to work with IBM computers, I learned the online language that you had to speak to make the Time Sharing Option (or TSO) know what you wanted to do. When you signed on, the machine would print a couple of lines about who you were, maybe include a thought for the day if your systems programmer enabled that script, optionally execute any scripts you might want it to at signon time (we had a crude animation that we spent most of one afternoon making, of a man farting in a dog’s face and knocking the animal unconscious, that our boss made us promise never to run during business hours), then give you this:

READY

At which point you’d type a command and TSO would execute it. More often than not, the command was

spf

which would put you into the Structured Programming Facility. That made TSO a whole lot easier to use. SPF went through a few changes, becoming first ISPF, then becoming a part of something larger called PDF (no relation to Portable Document Format) that took many of the great SPF screens and moved them where you couldn’t find them. When you were done working for the day, you’d get out of SPF and see

READY

again, at which point you’d

logoff

and go to the train station or the bus to go home. Data processing, ’70’s style.

And now a word from Betty Crocker Ready-to-Spread frosting.

47 thoughts on “Ready! #atozchallenge

  1. I remember I used to be so afraid of computers. Thought that if I hit the wrong button I’d blow it up or at least ruin it. I’ve come a long way since then….Loved the commercial but now I want cake! Good luck with the challenge.

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    1. I look for excuses to include the commercials, although on Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday I just throw them in.

      I approached the computer at school kind of like a caveman seeing fire for the first time. Now they just annoy me…

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  2. John,

    The first computer I was introduced to was in 1980, the year I entered a technical school after graduating high school. My field of study was programming. I do remember the basic start commands to access the systems to begin building my program to see if worked. However don’t ask me a thing about what I learned because it’s been long forgotten. I never did get a job as an associate programmer. I did mostly system maintenance and managing data entry. I know the world programming has totally evolved since those days and computers are light-years more user-friendly than the so-called user-friendly computers I sold after graduating college. Everything about computers is better today! Thanks for sharing your memories sparking my own distant recollections. Happy A2Zing, my friend.

    Cathy’s Pinup Girl A to Z Challenge Art Sketch Series (A)

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  3. Whoa! I was confused until I read the reveal. You always come up with great ideas. I miss your tunes too since we don’t post Mondays anymore.
    TW is so old, she worked on a Wang computer before they even got PCs.

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    1. I’m from the mainframe world, Burroughs large systems and IBM. That isn’t entirely outdated, because they’re still around, but some of the software is totally different than when I was working with them.

      I do a lot of music during the week. Come by anytime…

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  4. I like how cool your boss was. I started using desk tops sometime early 90’s, really slow machines and the graphics were hilarious-clunky. The computers have improved lots, bosses – not so much 🙂

    I always like what you do with your A-Z. Happy Challenge!

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    1. The graphics on the old PC’s were just a little better than ASCII art. Computers (at least the ones available to consumers) were just starting to be adapted to do artwork in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s. It wasn’t particularly user friendly, either…

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  5. Interesting, John. I remember those horrible monochrome screens, black with green letters. We still had that kind of screen at work for one of our programs but we could change the colors on everything.

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  6. I was watching to see if she would put that spoon back in the frosting container after she licked it. The computers I worked with were all in medical offices so I didn’t see much of this. Nice start, although I’m kinda confused. What’s the A?

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  7. Good Luck with the A-Z. I’m glad to be catching up again! Great post. I live in Rhode Island, and have been to that “computer museum.” It was a cool place Zulu Delta

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  8. Your post definitely made me laugh too. You have a truly humorous writing style. I didn’t use a computer myself till 1998, though my parents had one when I was a toddler in the late 1980s. I liked, or so I’m told, that it could speak my name.

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  9. Great post which brought back so many memories. I worked on newspapers for many years and my first typewriter was a rickety old thing with the letter E missing, replaced by plasticene. You can imagine how painful it was to type. Then came a whizz bang word processor which seemed very complicated after the typewriter. We then went on to Applemacs with those huge blocks of cream plastic and a dial-up modem. Happy days!
    Not So Sweet Toffee
    That’s Purrfect

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    1. I had a typewriter when I was in high school that was missing the K. I thought I could get by because K is the one of the least used letters (22nd out of 26 letters), and was surprised to find it was used all the time. I’d go back through my papers and wrie them in…

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  10. Your post made me laugh…IDK why, but I did. So that being said I’m sure I’m going to visit everyday during the AtoZ thing and grab you letters 😉 Blessings Mr. John ❤ …

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  11. Your post reminded me of my first encounter with a computer, about 25 years back when I was an engineering undergraduate. Those days the computer lab used to fully airconditioned and we had to remove our footwear before entering the lab. We used UNIX as the operating system and tried our programs in FORTRAN and later in C. Once the program run successfully, we were allowed to take a print out of the same on a dot matrix printer which used to make a lot of sound!

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  12. Now that is an old computer and I would love to see that animation. Love the commercial with that real 70s decor. I’m trying to recall who that actress is.

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  13. Ah, the 3270 series. Best keyboard I’ve ever used, as long as the spring tension was adjusted properly. BTW, that picture is not just any 3279; it’s a system console. The red button halted the CPU dead in its tracks (don’t ask me how I know this), and the green one started it again, right where it left off (whew!). The blue and gray ones powered the whole system up and down. The power sequence was good geeky fun, as you heard stuff firing up in sequence or slowly spinning down.

    I never did use MVS or TSO; I was a VM systems programmer, with the requisite aura of smug superiority. 🙂

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  14. I didn’t have much direct exposure to computers before 1990, but my encounters with them back then were difficult. Guess I didn’t have enough time and instruction to become comfortable. Now computers are so much more friendly to dummies like me.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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  15. We used to have green screen terminals at Uni, but it was the 90s and they were connected to UNIX servers. Managed to completely lock one up once when trying to compile Pascal – left out a ” and it managed to cause it to disappear up its own tail pipe 😂. The thing I remember most about terminals is how when you look up everything has a red tinge.
    Tasha 💖
    Virginia’s Parlour – The Manor (Adult concepts – nothing explicit in posts)
    Tasha’s Thinkings – Vampire Drabbles

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    1. The red tinge came from staring at the screen for too long. Not a real good idea. Eventually they came out with the color terminals and that cured a multitude of ailments. Ah, the good old days… all of my programming training was keypunched on cards…

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