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My father retired from his job as a COBOL programmer after 40 years. He only had that one job all this time. He lasted 14 years under communism (pre 1989, Eastern Europe) and 26 years after. That's as stable as they can be.

As a kid, I remember him coming home with IBM style punch cards. He was putting the cards into something that looks like a money counting machine. It was pretty fast and noisy, I remember being fascinated by it. His computer room was filled with a huge, 3-rack, communist-block designed computer, with 256KB of RAM and 60MB of HDD. The HDD was as large as a washing machine and took 2 minutes to spin up from cold start. The actual data discs were interchangeable (so the disk itself was spinning in regular air, not in void).




> He was putting the cards into something that looks like a money counting machine.

That is/was the punch card reader, with a metallic hair-comb like contraption (each prong of which was presumably connected to some sort of opto-coupler or a similar sensory component) for sensing the holes in the cards as they would pass under it at high speeds. As a kid, I used to have a lot of fun watching that in operation at my dad's office.

He used to write code (COBOL and Fortran) by hand on those graph paper-like coding sheets, then hand the sheets over to a 'specialist' card punching machine operator (I remember they used to have special courses for that too) who would punch the cards and so it went... :-)




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