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Yesterday and today!

Yesterday and Today! (Part 1)

Throughout my career in the data processing business, I have experience constant changes on how data and communication is been evolving. I started as a Unit Record Operator using different big machines to handle data. First we had a 80 columns punch cards. This card was designed and created by a gentleman named Herman Hollerith.


At work we had 6 girls dedicated to punch and verify the information on the cards using a sort of desk with keys. We, the operators, used different machines to process the information contained in those punched cards. We have a collator machine to put them in the order we needed for the process at hand. We then had to pass the cards through the machine as many times as the length of the field containing the information, ascending or descending order ( column by column ).


Once we have the stack of cards in the desired order, we pass them through ( if needed ) a machine to merge two stack of cards. Then again if we needed some calculations, there was a machine to do so. This machine containing circuit boards that we had to program for the desired application. We programmed them by hard wire electric impulses from one place to another. This process required a high level of knowledge because once you are done wiring it, you have a mess of wires going all over the place ( wires of different lengths and colors ) and if you got it wrong, you almost have to start all over again. Once you are satisfied that your programmed board is doing the desired task correctly, you never change it unless the application requires it.


The next machine was the tabulator machine. We also had to program it using similar boards that we had to program the calculator machine with. The complexity of these boards depended upon the task to be accomplished. Usually these boards were a bit more complicated and harder to get right. In order to accomplish this, we had to wire a small process within the tabulator and test it to see if was correct. If the programming worked, we would continue to the next process and test it again and so on, until the complete application was done. As long as nothing changed in the application the board would not be touched. In the big application changes were nightmares.

After that, all of these machines were replaced by a huge computer...... (part 2 )

Telephone and Social Media (part 1)

Telephone calls were done through a switch board operator at the local telephone company. The operator connected the incoming call with the desire phone the caller wanted to reach. Some company would have their own switch board operator to transfer the call to the desired person.

If the call was from one province to another, the switch operator would transfer the call to the switch board operator from that province which in turn she/he would connect that call with the desire number .


The users of the phone communication system used huge phones attached to the wall, and in those days not to many people had the leisure of having one. Social gatherings were the way people used to know what was going on in their neighbourhoods or physically visit their relatives to establish communication among them.


Rotary phones was a huge step in communication, (at least for me) now I could dial a number and get direct connection with the phone I was dialling. This made it a lot easier to communicate with relatives that were far from our community and the phone did not have to be attached to a wall or fixed somewhere. It could be in the living room, bedroom or wherever you felt to have it. As long as it has a connection though a cord still attached to the wall. That was the end of the switch boards operator, and the birth of the receptionist.

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