Composing on paper, Green-bar, hardcopy output, card decks (L ong)

From: McFadden, Mike <>
Date: Tue Jun 20 13:29:48 2000

>From the Jargon file
greenbar: n. A style of fanfolded continuous-feed paper with alternating
green and white bars on it, especially used in old-style line printers. This
slang almost certainly dates way back to mainframe days.
This makes me feel ancient.
The green bars were 1 inch wide which was 6 lines normal or 8 lines
compressed. About 1979 I remember when I wrote a talk for a microbiology
conference on my VT52 terminal. I then printed it out on greenbar which was
used to prompt me during the talk. The greenbar proceeded to unfold down
the front of the podium all the way to the floor. My boss was kind enough
to indicate that the talk was really written by the computer.

One problem with greenbar was that you had to turn it over if you wanted to
print pictures or banners on the paper. Very long fiber paper, some of the
cheap stuff was kind of like newspaper greenbar. I still have several cases
of it, the fancy kind with printed line numbers.

The nice thing about composing on paper was that once you wrote the same or
similar thing several times by hand you decided to create a
subroutine/procedure. Paper could be taken to the pool or outside, no
electricity required. Composing on terminals was only practical when there
were terminals available. Doesn't anyone remember coding sheets? If you
are punching cards on an IBM 026 keypunch then any errors and the card was
trash. The IBM 029 keypunch didn't actually punch the card until the end of
the line, you could correct errors if you noticed them. Trash cards were
useful for phone messages and notes.

All of the JCL cards were usually a different color to allow the card decks
to be split apart. I seem to remember pictures being drawn on the decks to
allow the user to peer through the computer room window to see if your deck
was due to be run soon.

The best card run I ever saw was a 1976 run where the entire music list for
the MU radio station was read in and then sorted by music type, performer,
and title and then printouts produced. This happened on a Sunday when CPU
time was free on the IBM 370 model 158 due to system testing. 12 boxes of
data cards were read in and then stored on 9-track tape.

Best input output/setup was in 1970 at CMU where the cards were read in and
then output printed down a long series of sloped tables, each user got <10
minute response, they had a traffic light set up in the IO room. RED =
system down, GREEN = system up, YELLOW = use at your own risk. They had a
camera and speaker watching the printer to tell the users to change the
paper on the printer. Worst setup was MU Computer Sciences where you turned
in the cards and got back output in 24 hours. Many times with message CPU
time exceeded and no output.

Coder from the dark ages
Received on Tue Jun 20 2000 - 13:29:48 BST

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