Thirty years ago, computers were quite different

In the old days, we had to use a typewriter. I asked if I could use the ASR-33 teletype machine which connected to our high school PDP-8 computer, but it only printed in UPPER CASE on rolls of yellow paper.

Did you ever wonder the origin of the term Carriage Return? On typewriters, the paper was wrapped around a roller called a platen, which was on a movable “carriage”. When typing near the end of the line, a bell would go Ding warning that it was time to lift the left hand off the keyboard and push the carriage return lever to move the entire carriage to the right.

Fancier typewriters could accommodate multi color ink ribbons. The top half of the fabric might be black, while the bottom would be red or blue. Typically only one font was available. I chose a Pica typewriter, rather than elite, because it was larger and thus a 10 page paper would have less content<g>. Fancy typewriters, like the IBM Selcetric, had a type ball that would have all the characters laid out on a sphere. It was fascinating to watch that ball bounce. (reminiscent of Karaoke?<g>)

I remember that our high school teachers emphasized the typing of footnotes with our papers. This meant that when typing close to the bottom of a page, you have to switch to typing the footnote. Many times, I forgot about the footnote and had to type the page over<sigh>.

I found a paper that I typed entitled “Computers and Society” ,April 18th 1975 for 11th grade Social Studies class, to a teacher named Mr. Haas. Keep in mind that computers filled whole rooms back then.

Here are some quotes.

With such a computer, the headquarters of a company could get records of all of the transactions between one of its branches and consumers from all over the world and have the total profit, costs, etc. calculated and printed out on a sheet of paper within an hour of closing time each day.

… can communicate to the user in a friendly manner

… the computer could then output a custom printed edition of the newspapers for each subscriber.

…In fact, approximately one of every ten people in this country owns a calculator.

.. in one building at Yale University… there are at least twenty complete computer systems…

….everybody would be able to design his own product and then send it off to a computer to build. ..

… some future war could be a nuclear one controlled by computers. However, if technology has progressed to the point that excellent offensive weapons might be produced, it is probably that defenses could also be developed.

… The privacy of each individual might also be threatened in the future. Any computer programmer could just ask the computer to divulge everything that he wants to know. However, an excellent security system of codes and passwords could be employed by the computer and only a handful of men would know how to tap information

.. as the computer increasingly become an integral part of our society, everyone becomes dependent on them. If they fail, man fails.

I scanned the entire original document including teacher comments, footnotes, illustrations, and grade, available here.