Paul A.
  • Deerfield, MA
  • Member for 9 years
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About

I'm currently running a dual-boot system with Kubuntu 20.04 and Windows 10 on an HP Pavilion laptop. I'm now 85 years old and I've been been in the computing field since I was 17. so I have lots of experience. But I'm now absent-minded and suffering from short-term memory loss, which occasionally causes me to ask silly questions.

I actually did some programming on the ancient Whirlwind machine at MIT. In those days we used Flexowriters, which were glorified typewriters, for input and line printers for output.The front of the machine had a huge array of flashing lights to display the contents of the registers. When a program was malfunctioning, which was often, we'd take a picture of the front of the machine in order to debug the program.

My greatest accomplishment was writing a compiler for PL/I on the IBM 709 in the mid-sixties. PL/I was a large and complicated language, primitive by today's standards, and I did it single-handedly. It was an exciting triumph when I got the compile to compile itself. I took on that project as a challenge because the language was so massive and complicated. (In the same spirit, I built a two-manual (two keyboards) harpsichord from a Zuckerman kit even though I had no prior woodworking experience.)

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