Astoundingly Analog

Let us say you are on the way to Mars in 1958. Let’s actually place you in the pilot’s cabin of a spacecraft in a distant future — 1980. Back home at mission control, pipe-smoking scientists and cigar-smoking generals are using the magic of radio — bigger, better, more vacuum tubes.

 

space-ship-controls
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Meanwhile, other American scientists and generals are helping Japan battle monsters all kind. Godzilla, Gamera. Scientists, generals and the kids and singing miniature friends of Gamera.

 

A confident team on Earth barks orders. Walls crammed with magnetic-tape driven mechanical brains. What gives with all those dials?

 

Isn’t it time for you to mention Phillip K. Dick again?

Of course it is. PKD.

And speaking of analog, your LP, 45 is performing its proverbial broken record role. Time you enter the future of home recording — the reel-to-reel tape deck.

 

science-fiction-sunday
BoingBoing Science Fiction Sunday

There’s a reel or two from my good old 3M Wollensak in the basement, or somewhere. Here is some advice you don’t need — cheap magnetic tape flakes its coating; it had a ferrous smell.

You probably have a large box of vacuum tubes, condensers, capacitors, resistors too.

Yes.

And when I wasn’t trying to make sulphuric acid and release free chlorine gas? See Chemistry 001 for more. What to do?  Well, wrap copper wire around an oatmeal box to make a crystal radio, one with an antenna stretching from attic to nearest tree. That there radio pulled in one (1) station. Those were less modern electronic times, the days before a portable radio could contain up to 12 transistors.

We don’t seem to be getting anywhere here. Are you fumbling for a coherent, direct and unambiguous theme, Bill?

No.

You need help, Bill. We hope you’ll get the help you need. Let’s help get you back on task. Didn’t you program a computer in that world of the future? 1980’s.

’twas a circuit-board materials plant in Blanchester, Ohio. I still have several 8K boards that were suspended on a rod and inserted into a motherboard. Those 8 boards provided all the memory needed to power a 64K core memory. No old-fashioned 80-column cards for the CIP 2200B. No indeed. 96-column cards were a fraction the size, yet delivered more columns for nifty RPGII program code.

96-column

What did the Electronic Circuitboard Materials Division do before becoming ‘computerized’ in that 1980’s distant future?

The order-entry system wrote data on thin bamboo sheets with a paper covering. Perforated strips had columns inscribed with a straight edge and ballpoint pen. The bamboo was flexible; it allowed you to move order data up and down a steel “book” flanged on each side. Those strips traced an order from entry to shipping. When the order shipped you snapped that bamboo and tossed it into a waste can.

Once again, you are allowing your mind to wander. We’re interested in results (and getting you the help you need).

I programmed a database to convert the bamboo modus operandi into electronic databases. We went parallel with the bamboo strips for a month, all went smoothly and moved right along — until competition from Japan arrived in that future 1980’s world. Cutting to the proverbial chase: the plant closed and reopened as a Honda parts facility. I became a single parent of two incredibly wonderful children when my wife died in 1983.

The Japanese no longer had to defeat Godzilla, Gamera and all the other monsters. Nippon had time to become an economic juggernaut.

Where did you go then?

To work on my M.A. in Germanic Languages and Literatures, of course.

 

germanic-languages
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Well that’s a finely fiddled career path, innit? 

Naturally it was. I had until 1993 to meet Lisa online in the advanced bulletin-board system of that more distant future world of the 90’s.

Didn’t you get back into databases when you discovered that classroom management was not your forte, but your greatest weakness?

Yes. Had to  do something until Y2K came along without two columns on an 80-column-card. An assumed “19” fostered justifiable fear. Had the 96 column card been available in those 1950’s spaceships — my mind begins to boggle.

We can wait. 

OK.

Thanks for reading.