## At somewhat of a loss of memory

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"In 1963, at the "U-Dub," as it was called, I found myself in the evolutionary transition between mechanical calculation and digital computers. My first class in Numerical Analysis in 1964 was from a professor in his 80s. This nice old gentleman was retiring, and not too soon in my opinion, as he seemed quite feeble and at somewhat of a loss of memory. He taught the trade of computing with Marchant calculators.

A Marchant calculator is a big, black machine, about three times the size of a typewriter. It has a giant carriage on top with about ten holes with little mechanical numbers that pop up in the slots. There are buttons all over the front with digits, decimal points, and keyed symbols that multiply and divide to control this mechanical nightmare.

They used these Marchant calculators for Numerical Analysis, starting in about the 1940's. A business would hire rows and rows of Marchant calculator operators to compute so-called "Finite Differences." This led to tables of figures that let you, for example, toss a mortar precisely into your enemy's backyard.

You sat there and pushed those keys while the mechnicals made a host of noises by cranking and grinding who-knows-what, until the rattling stopped. You got a number. You put the number on a form, and eventually, with enough numbers and forms, you got a result. Sometimes the resulting number was correct."

http://www.computerhistory.org/_static/atchm/in-his-own-words-gary-kildall/

Tags: quote, ойті

Authors: ag