[TUHS] mainframe $ budgets [was Re: Re: SNOBOL and RATSNO

Charles H Sauer (he/him) sauer at technologists.com
Wed Aug 10 08:49:50 AEST 2022

And, of course, it should be noted that $50K was significantly more than 
typical annual salaries for researchers back then.

On 8/9/2022 3:58 PM, Marc Donner wrote:
> I joined IBM Research in Yorktown in 1978.  I was an electrical engineer 
> and one of the first problems I was given was modeling a novel concept 
> for an X-Y touch panel.  I realized that the model is basically solving 
> Laplace's equation in the plane.  I was not a programmer at the time, so 
> I asked what was the recommended thing for that.  I was told APL, so I 
> grabbed a manual and got to work.
> Within a day or two I had a nice solver working and was getting useful 
> results.
> (Of course, solving Laplace in the plane by relaxation is the slowest 
> possible way to get to the answer, but I didn't know much about 
> numerical methods back in those days.)
> The next week I got a visit from the same IT weenies who had bothered 
> you.  They told me that in my first week on the job I had managed to be 
> the biggest consumer of CPU cycles on the 370/168 and that I had to 
> learn to program in PL/I because compiled was better than interpreted.  
> It took me several weeks to get it working, since PL/I was such a pain 
> in the neck and I had to learn all sorts of stuff about how numbers were 
> represented in the hardware.
> Obviously my time was worth less than the computer's.
> Bleh.
> =====
> nygeek.net <http://nygeek.net>
> mindthegapdialogs.com/home <https://www.mindthegapdialogs.com/home>
> On Tue, Aug 9, 2022 at 4:43 PM Charles H Sauer (he/him) 
> <sauer at technologists.com <mailto:sauer at technologists.com>> wrote:
>     Early on in my career at IBM Yorktown, ca. 1976, I was submitting many
>     long running simulation jobs to the 360/91 there. At one point, the
>     head
>     of computer systems (I.T. if you will) wrote to the head of computer
>     sciences (my department) complaining that I had just spent $50K over
>     some short period, asking if this was justified. My management shrugged
>     it off, encouraged me to continue what I was doing. I might still have
>     the letter somewhere.
>     A couple of years later, while on the faculty at U.T. Austin, one of
>     the
>     main budgetary items in research grant proposals was purchase of
>     mini-computers, assuming those were a more efficient use of funds than
>     paying for time at the campus computing center (then using CDC 6600 and
>     successors).
>     COFF?
>     Charlie
>     On 8/9/2022 3:19 PM, Warner Losh wrote:
>      > Computing budgets were tiny: You had only so many $$$ for your
>     runs and
>      > if you made
>      > too many, you'd run out of $$$ before you were done (more
>     applicable as
>      > a student than
>      > as a professional post school though). Consequently your time was
>      > plentiful and
>      > computer time was scarce.
>     -- 
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