[TUHS] Fun experiences with old mainframes (was Early non-Unix filesystems?)

Marc Rochkind rochkind at basepath.com
Thu Mar 24 09:46:54 AEST 2016

OK, another punch card story.

In the early days of SCCS, when it was a SNOBOL4 program running on an IBM
mainframe, my officemate, Alan Glasser, and I provided tech support, and a
user came to our office with a bug: It had processed the same card twice.
SCCS listed all the commands on the printout, and, sure enough, the command
had been processed twice.

Alan, who was smarter than me, had no explanation, and neither did I. I
said to the user: "You know, there are all kinds of bugs, some pretty
weird, but that just isn't the kind of bug that I would have. Just not

Finally, I think it was Alan who said: "Bring us your deck."

The user returned a few minutes later, and we examined the deck. The
command card was in there twice.

Nailed it, and it only took us an hour.

--Marc Rochkind

On Wed, Mar 23, 2016 at 5:27 PM, Greg 'groggy' Lehey <grog at lemis.com> wrote:

> On Wednesday, 23 March 2016 at 16:47:53 -0400, Clem Cole wrote:
> > ...
> > At that point, my coworker came out and said, here bring me your
> > deck.  He looked at them and quickly said -- "The problem is you
> > used the wrong color cards."????
> Nice one.  Reminds me of a non-computer story from round the same
> time, probably round 1968.  A friend of mine in Malaysia had long
> hair, fashionable amongst kids at the time, and prohibited in
> Singapore.  He wanted to go to Singapore, but how to get in without
> cutting his hair?  He was Indian (Tamil), so he had the bright idea of
> buying a turban and posing as a Sikh, who were exempted from the
> regulation on cultural grounds.
> He arrived at the Causeway in Johore Bahru with his nice red turban
> on.  And the immigration official was a Sikh!  With a blue turban.  He
> said "what are you doing with a red turban?  Today's a blue turban
> day!".
> Greg
> --
> Sent from my desktop computer.
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