On Thu, 2008-04-03 at 23:44 +0100, Nicholas Robinson wrote:
On Thursday 03 April 2008 23:06:44 Tim wrote:
> On Thu, 2008-04-03 at 10:25 -0600, Robin Laing wrote:
> > It was nice to see the TTY there. I remember having a Star Trek
> > program on paper tape. Let it roll down the outside of the residence
> > building at school. It was over 10 stories long.
> > We were the lucky ones in the second year. We had a TI terminal that
> > had a cassette tape in it. No more punch cards or paper tape for
> > us. :)
> I would have thought paper tape to be more reliable than plastic tape.
> No stretching, no striction, reversable and relocatable for a re-read,
> repairable by your engineers when someone breaks it, duplicatable
> through various direct methods without degradation of data.
Yes, we had a very, very short-lived trial with cassettes for exactly the
reasons you mention. We went on to these new-fangled floppy discs with a huge
capacity of just over 100k bytes. We carried on using paper tapes for a
while, just to be sure. We were real men though and had to repair our own
tapes. It was tough in those days.
The typical session started with bootstrapping RIM into the PDP 8e and then
loading the BIN loader off paper tape. Assuming you didn't make a mistake
hand-loading the 30odd 12 bit instructions in the RIM loader and the paper
tape didn't jam/fall out of the reader/stop for no apparent reason, you were
in business and could then load another paper tape with something more
interesting on it, like BASIC or Algol or an assembler (subject to the
jams/falls/stops noted before). If the optical paper tape reader (300 or so
cps) failed then we had to resort to the old teletype reader which was rated
at 10 cps, but always seemed slower. Even with only 8k core memory, it still
took a long time to load a big programme.
Ah, how the younger ones on the list must be enjoying reading about the lives
of the when-we's.
Ah, yes... I used to dread the infamous tape break. We even had the
little template thingy that you could put the two ends into to help get
the magic tape on the right way. But I was invariably too clumsy and
ended up with one of those dreaded wrinkles that would slide the tape
sideways at the most inopportune time (like after 3/4 of a long program
had been read in.) So I would usually patch the the tape, then dupe it
so I had a "real working copy" because the duplicator would deal with
the wrinkle much better (but more slowly if possible).