Slide Rules and Slipsticks - in the 1960's B.C. - i.e. (Before Computers)


Don Anderson
 

Oh the memories! Post a pic of the Dietzn.

Don Anderson


On Thursday, March 18, 2021, 12:27:51 p.m. MDT, weems@... <weems@...> wrote:


Through most of middle and high school I used a circular slide rule. In senior year I used money from my grocery store job to buy an HP45. When I got to engineering school, one professor insisted that pocket calculators were a fad, that circular rules were not good enough, and that I had to buy a straight rule. The local engineering supply had, for a while, taken top-quality rules in trade for calculators. So I was able to pick up a used Dietzgen 1734, with a mahogany core and teflon bearings, very cheaply. I still use it in my CS classes, as an example of 0th generation computing technology. It is still in its orange box and leather holster, with the manual wrapped around it. 

Early computers I've used and/or programmed include: IBM 360/20, 360/40, 1130, 1620, PDP 8/L, 8/E, 8/I, 12, VAX 11/780, CDC 3300, Cyber 74, Cyber 180. Also a research machine using a glass delay line associative memory in combination with surplus core memory units from the IBM 7030 (I still have some of the core planes, drivers, and manuals). The 3300 had the coolest console of any of them, with rows of projected octal digits. The research machine had the weirdest instruction (skip on sunny Sundays). 

Chip


weems@...
 

Through most of middle and high school I used a circular slide rule. In senior year I used money from my grocery store job to buy an HP45. When I got to engineering school, one professor insisted that pocket calculators were a fad, that circular rules were not good enough, and that I had to buy a straight rule. The local engineering supply had, for a while, taken top-quality rules in trade for calculators. So I was able to pick up a used Dietzgen 1734, with a mahogany core and teflon bearings, very cheaply. I still use it in my CS classes, as an example of 0th generation computing technology. It is still in its orange box and leather holster, with the manual wrapped around it. 

Early computers I've used and/or programmed include: IBM 360/20, 360/40, 1130, 1620, PDP 8/L, 8/E, 8/I, 12, VAX 11/780, CDC 3300, Cyber 74, Cyber 180. Also a research machine using a glass delay line associative memory in combination with surplus core memory units from the IBM 7030 (I still have some of the core planes, drivers, and manuals). The 3300 had the coolest console of any of them, with rows of projected octal digits. The research machine had the weirdest instruction (skip on sunny Sundays). 

Chip


Richard O'Neill <syzygy42@earthlink.net>
 

I still have my Pickett rules, A pocket size 6" and two 12", all in leather cases. Surprisingly, after more than fifty years I still remember how to use most of the scales!

Richard


Joe Zeglinski
 

    I think the note above Von Braun’s slide rule is appropriate.
Recall the movie sequence in APOLLO-13, Tom Hanks is asking mission control to double check his gimbal angle corrections. The scene shows the guy on the desk giving a thumbs up after verifying with his K&E slide rule. One man with a slide rule can do wonders. They had an IBM-7094 but no calculators for that? Rescue hinged on a slide rule.
 
    Certainly reinforced my respect for the ground control team, and what could be done without massive computers.
 
Joe
 

From: Eric Dreher
Sent: Saturday, March 13, 2021 3:00 PM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Slide Rules and Slipsticks - in the 1960's B.C. - i.e. (Before Computers)
 
Having grown up during the Mercury launches onward, my childhood hero became Wernher von Braun.  During a 2016 visit to the Cosmosphere Space Museum in Hutchinson, Kansas, I spotted a slide rule in a glass display case.  For obvious reasons, I had to take a photo.


Eric Dreher
 

Having grown up during the Mercury launches onward, my childhood hero became Wernher von Braun.  During a 2016 visit to the Cosmosphere Space Museum in Hutchinson, Kansas, I spotted a slide rule in a glass display case.  For obvious reasons, I had to take a photo.


Roland Christen
 

We had a giant one up on the wall in the math lecture room at the Rochester Institute of Technology. It was used to teach incoming engineering students (like myself).

Rolando



-----Original Message-----
From: Karen Christen <karen@...>
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io <main@ap-gto.groups.io>
Sent: Sat, Mar 13, 2021 10:34 am
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Slide Rules and Slipsticks - in the 1960's B.C. - i.e. (Before Computers)

This whole topic has been hilarious.  Barry wins.
Karen
AP
 
From: main@ap-gto.groups.io <main@ap-gto.groups.io> On Behalf Of Barry Megdal
Sent: Friday, March 12, 2021 8:21 PM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Slide Rules and Slipsticks - in the 1960's B.C. - i.e. (Before Computers)
 
Yes – that is a 6-foot slide rule on the wall.  Couldn’t resist buying it years ago at a garage sale.  These used to hang on the blackboard in my high school chemistry class so they could teach us how to use them.
 
And my new Mach2 in the foreground just to make the photo appropriate for this forum J
 
 
Dr. Barry Megdal
 
President
Shb Instruments, Inc.
19215 Parthenia St.  Suite A
Northridge, CA 91324
(818) 773-2000  (818)773-2005 fax
 
Faculty (retired)
Dept. of Electrical Engineering
Caltech
 

--
Karen Christen
Astro-Physics

--
Roland Christen
Astro-Physics


Karen Christen
 

This whole topic has been hilarious.  Barry wins.

Karen

AP

 

From: main@ap-gto.groups.io <main@ap-gto.groups.io> On Behalf Of Barry Megdal
Sent: Friday, March 12, 2021 8:21 PM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Slide Rules and Slipsticks - in the 1960's B.C. - i.e. (Before Computers)

 

Yes – that is a 6-foot slide rule on the wall.  Couldn’t resist buying it years ago at a garage sale.  These used to hang on the blackboard in my high school chemistry class so they could teach us how to use them.

 

And my new Mach2 in the foreground just to make the photo appropriate for this forum J

 

 

Dr. Barry Megdal

 

President

Shb Instruments, Inc.

19215 Parthenia St.  Suite A

Northridge, CA 91324

www.shbinstruments.com

(818) 773-2000  (818)773-2005 fax

bmegdal@...

 

Faculty (retired)

Dept. of Electrical Engineering

Caltech

 


--
Karen Christen
Astro-Physics


Joe Zeglinski
 

   Since I couldn’t find an original “wall-mount”  slipstick,  I just remembered  an old Plan-B, of making my own. We now have the latest PC technology to do it very easily as a home DIY. The 6-foot, or preferably easier to handle  a 4-footer,  can be “duplicated”. I once made an “Octal” Circular slide rule, simply using my engineering drafting tools, after I graduated and started in the computer field. Computer technology now makes it far easier to do.
 
    Just scan an existing slide rule, at high resolution, section by section, and print the (coloured) sheets on say a laser printer, or have it done at a  print shop on a blueprint-sized printer. Then just glue the printed sheets unto a backing of plywood, or much lighter balsa wood, even thin sheets  (with  re-enforcement spacer ribs) of Plexiglas. Then you can have any brand or model of your old favourite slide rule, complete with accurate markings.
The difficulty is flipping it over to the log & trig functions, but even that could be done by flipping it over downwards  on  hinges.
 
    Another project, besides astronomy, that would be out of this world.
 
    Just a thought ... but thanking the group for their patience,  I should probably end this AP-GTO  off-topic, though very interesting thread. 
Joe
 
   
 

From: Don Anderson via groups.io
Sent: Friday, March 12, 2021 11:51 PM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Slide Rules and Slipsticks - in the 1960's B.C. - i.e. (Before Computers)
 
Barry's is bigger than oursEmoji
 
Don Anderson
 
 
On Friday, March 12, 2021, 07:30:02 p.m. MST, Joe Zeglinski <j.zeglinski@...> wrote:
 
 
Congrats Barry,
 
...  on finding that huge Pickett. Years ago, I was looking for one as well, and finally gave up. Settled for finding the Electrical Engineering Pickett model instead.
Now, seeing yours,   I may resume that search.
 
Joe


Jeff B
 

What a great garage sale find.  Would be a natural for American Pickers!

I remember the huge one in college physics class.  We had an "advanced course" in it and also circular slide rules that you could stuff inside your pocket protectors with the pens.  Computer card stacks...learned real quick to always number the cards....in case you dropped the deck.....which you would eventually do.....that also carried over to numbering your viewgraph slides too.

The big intense debate in my engineering college was centered around the use of the emerging hand calculators during testing.  Their relative cost was similar to a high end cell phone today but some students had them.  Took my school, Cincinnati, a good year to allow it as they saw the handwriting on the wall......where the big slide rule used to be.

Jeff

On Fri, Mar 12, 2021 at 11:51 PM Don Anderson via groups.io <jockey_ca=yahoo.ca@groups.io> wrote:
Barry's is bigger than oursEmoji

Don Anderson


On Friday, March 12, 2021, 07:30:02 p.m. MST, Joe Zeglinski <j.zeglinski@...> wrote:


Congrats Barry,
 
...  on finding that huge Pickett. Years ago, I was looking for one as well, and finally gave up. Settled for finding the Electrical Engineering Pickett model instead.
Now, seeing yours,   I may resume that search.
 
Joe


David Fischer
 

My high school days were spent on an IBM 1440 (first 2 years) and a UNIVAC 1106 my senior year.  Mostly FORTRAN then COBOL, ALGOL and assembly on the UNIVAC.
-- David F.


On Fri, Mar 12, 2021 at 5:57 PM Barry Megdal <bmegdal@...> wrote:

I used to program the IBM 1620 at the neighboring junior college when I was in high school – unique thing about that machine was that internal storage was in decimal (BCD) rather than standard binary……

 

-        Barry

 

Dr. Barry Megdal

 

President

Shb Instruments, Inc.

19215 Parthenia St.  Suite A

Northridge, CA 91324

www.shbinstruments.com

(818) 773-2000  (818)773-2005 fax

bmegdal@...

 

Faculty (retired)

Dept. of Electrical Engineering

Caltech

 


Don Anderson
 

Barry's is bigger than oursEmoji

Don Anderson


On Friday, March 12, 2021, 07:30:02 p.m. MST, Joe Zeglinski <j.zeglinski@...> wrote:


Congrats Barry,
 
...  on finding that huge Pickett. Years ago, I was looking for one as well, and finally gave up. Settled for finding the Electrical Engineering Pickett model instead.
Now, seeing yours,   I may resume that search.
 
Joe


Don Anderson
 

Wow! Awesome Barry. How heavy is it?  Mine is a Hughes-Owens Bamboo with glass window in the slide. It is in as good a shape as when I bought it in 1969.

Don Anderson


On Friday, March 12, 2021, 07:20:52 p.m. MST, Barry Megdal <bmegdal@...> wrote:


Yes – that is a 6-foot slide rule on the wall.  Couldn’t resist buying it years ago at a garage sale.  These used to hang on the blackboard in my high school chemistry class so they could teach us how to use them.

 

And my new Mach2 in the foreground just to make the photo appropriate for this forum J

 

 

Dr. Barry Megdal

 

President

Shb Instruments, Inc.

19215 Parthenia St.  Suite A

Northridge, CA 91324

www.shbinstruments.com

(818) 773-2000  (818)773-2005 fax

bmegdal@...

 

Faculty (retired)

Dept. of Electrical Engineering

Caltech

 


Joe Zeglinski
 

Congrats Barry,
 
...  on finding that huge Pickett. Years ago, I was looking for one as well, and finally gave up. Settled for finding the Electrical Engineering Pickett model instead.
Now, seeing yours,   I may resume that search.
 
Joe


Barry Megdal
 

Yes – that is a 6-foot slide rule on the wall.  Couldn’t resist buying it years ago at a garage sale.  These used to hang on the blackboard in my high school chemistry class so they could teach us how to use them.

 

And my new Mach2 in the foreground just to make the photo appropriate for this forum J

 

 

Dr. Barry Megdal

 

President

Shb Instruments, Inc.

19215 Parthenia St.  Suite A

Northridge, CA 91324

www.shbinstruments.com

(818) 773-2000  (818)773-2005 fax

bmegdal@...

 

Faculty (retired)

Dept. of Electrical Engineering

Caltech

 


Barry Megdal
 

I used to program the IBM 1620 at the neighboring junior college when I was in high school – unique thing about that machine was that internal storage was in decimal (BCD) rather than standard binary……

 

-        Barry

 

Dr. Barry Megdal

 

President

Shb Instruments, Inc.

19215 Parthenia St.  Suite A

Northridge, CA 91324

www.shbinstruments.com

(818) 773-2000  (818)773-2005 fax

bmegdal@...

 

Faculty (retired)

Dept. of Electrical Engineering

Caltech

 


M Hambrick
 

I was in chemical engineering at University of Houston for a couple years, then finished at Texas A&M. At UH we did our Fortran programs on the IBM 360, and punch cards were the only option. When we had finished punching our cards we would hand them over at the I/O desk where they would read them and compile our programs. Three hours later we could pick up the printout to see what the errors were. It was a very tedious process.

At Texas A&M they had built their own main frame. Wilbur they called it, and at that time (early 1980s) the engineering students had the option of using punch cards or desktop terminals. The desktop terminals at A&M were way faster for compiling our programs than the punch cards, but there were lots of problems with Wilbur, and he would crash without warning every couple months. There were many students who lost their 10 X 10 matrix inversion programs (or whatever) when Wilbur crashed and they had to type it in again from scratch. I never gave up using punch cards. 

Mike

 


Jeffrey Wolff
 

We used a Control Data Corp. CDC-6500 with two core processors with 256K of ferrite core memory. The core processors used 60 bit floating point which was pretty good for the 70s. There were 18 peripheral processors that ran the operation system and all the IO. I programmed the OS in Compass which was the assembly language at the time. The peripheral processors used 18 bit words vs 60 bit for the core.

The first couple of years of programming I had batch priority for my programs. It took about 24 hours after reading the punch cards into the queue before we could put up the output jobs printout. Eventually I had interactive access using TTYs or typewriter type terminals with built in printers.

When I went back for my masters almost all my work was down on UNIX systems.


Joe Zeglinski
 

Hi Kent,
 
    I was at UofT ( Electrical Engineering - University of Toronto) 1965-1970 about the same time as you  were in Texas.
They showed me boxes of vacuum tubes in surplus storage,  that the electrical engineering faculty purchased as part of their project to build their own computer, then scrapped everything, when IBM came out with their 7094. Don’t know how far our tube version went.
 
Joe Z.
 

From: Kent Kirkley via groups.io
Sent: Friday, March 12, 2021 5:49 PM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Slide Rules and Slipsticks - in the 1960's B.C. - i.e. (Before Computers)
 
Joe

You said "The U of T had the fortune of getting"
Was U of T, Texas or Tenessee?
If Texas what years were you there?
I was there 1965-69 and also used Fortran punched card programs.
And yes, I used a slide rule (2) in high school, both K&E's.

Kent Kirkley
 
 


Kent Kirkley
 

Joe

You said "The U of T had the fortune of getting"
Was U of T, Texas or Tenessee?
If Texas what years were you there?
I was there 1965-69 and also used Fortran punched card programs.
And yes, I used a slide rule (2) in high school, both K&E's.

Kent Kirkley



-----Original Message-----
From: Joe Zeglinski <J.Zeglinski@...>
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Sent: Fri, Mar 12, 2021 3:29 pm
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Slide Rules and Slipsticks - in the 1960's B.C. - i.e. (Before Computers)

    Maybe,  I can somewhat top that,  Don.
 
    First year engineering,  Fortran punched card programs,  on the big fish-bowl machine – an awe inspiring IBM-7094, long before the IBM-360,  and which was the original IBM-7090 upgraded  with something new - a Floating Point Processor.
That was the death knell for the desktop NCR Tabulators. The UofT had the fortune of getting the second IBM-7094 in production,  after NASA got theirs for Project Mercury. The latter’s introduction  is portrayed in the recent movie, “Computing Figures”, which brought back wondrous memories for me.
 
    But I preferred using the undergrad machine, an IBM-1620 with a coffin-sized floating point processor,  we hung over it to get ourselves warmed up on a cold winters morning, Working for the eelier mentioned prof,  even got special permission to actually run it after midnight – my first PC, sort of. Loved to turn off the lab room lights, and enjoy all the Neon Hex-code indicators and control panel switch’s lights flash like a laser show. Wish I had taken a picture. No PC today compares to that thrill and amazing sight, perhaps only beat by the IBM-7094 and IBM-360 light show when running  diagnostics.
 
    Last thing I did with one of my dozen or so  basement Honeywell Minicomputers, was to play an originally PDP-8 programmed,  Christmas Carol,  from the RFI noise generated by the mini’s control panel (specifically)  incandescent bulb, (Arithmetic Overflow flip-flop Indicator), flickering  on & off by program as a portable radio tuned to any off-AM-station frequency , crackled melodically, even 10 feet away,  in unison to the carol. Computing Security wasn’t a concept in those early days.
 
    “Halcion Days” ... of computing,  when computers were new and lots more fun than debug work, after I taught myself computing,  before Computer Science came along,
 
    Thanks for bringing back all the shared memories, guys.   Now back to my bug-free Pickett – wonder why we called its sliding  indicator window a “Cursor”, instead of a “Mouse”, since it really worked  the same way  :-)
 
Joe Z.
 
From: Don Anderson via groups.io
Sent: Friday, March 12, 2021 2:49 PM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Slide Rules and Slipsticks - in the 1960's B.C. - i.e. (Before Computers)
 
I did my first programing in Fortran with punch cards on an IBM360.
woe be to the person who dropped their program on the way to class!. Sorting a couple hundred punch cards 10 min before class started was stressful!
 
Don Anderson
 
 
On Friday, March 12, 2021, 11:57:15 a.m. MST, Jeffrey Wolff <jmw2800@...> wrote:
 
 
I had to use a slide rule in high school. I remember my Dad buying a basic four function calculator when I was finishing high school.

I learned about HP calculator's in college and bought 3 different programmable calculators by the time I graduated. My first drafting class was using paper, pencils and a bunch of tools to make lines and circles. Eventually did AutoCAD and digital circuit design.

Started programming computers using punch cards. Eventually got my masters in Computer Science and spent my working life running networks, switches, routers, firewalls, wireless, fiber optics and other stuff to bring the Internet to everybody at the university. Been working at my employer since 1989. We went from 1.5 megabits/second for the whole state higher education network to a pair of 100 gigabit/second Internet2 circuits now.


Joe Zeglinski
 

    Maybe,  I can somewhat top that,  Don.
 
    First year engineering,  Fortran punched card programs,  on the big fish-bowl machine – an awe inspiring IBM-7094, long before the IBM-360,  and which was the original IBM-7090 upgraded  with something new - a Floating Point Processor.
That was the death knell for the desktop NCR Tabulators. The UofT had the fortune of getting the second IBM-7094 in production,  after NASA got theirs for Project Mercury. The latter’s introduction  is portrayed in the recent movie, “Computing Figures”, which brought back wondrous memories for me.
 
    But I preferred using the undergrad machine, an IBM-1620 with a coffin-sized floating point processor,  we hung over it to get ourselves warmed up on a cold winters morning, Working for the eelier mentioned prof,  even got special permission to actually run it after midnight – my first PC, sort of. Loved to turn off the lab room lights, and enjoy all the Neon Hex-code indicators and control panel switch’s lights flash like a laser show. Wish I had taken a picture. No PC today compares to that thrill and amazing sight, perhaps only beat by the IBM-7094 and IBM-360 light show when running  diagnostics.
 
    Last thing I did with one of my dozen or so  basement Honeywell Minicomputers, was to play an originally PDP-8 programmed,  Christmas Carol,  from the RFI noise generated by the mini’s control panel (specifically)  incandescent bulb, (Arithmetic Overflow flip-flop Indicator), flickering  on & off by program as a portable radio tuned to any off-AM-station frequency , crackled melodically, even 10 feet away,  in unison to the carol. Computing Security wasn’t a concept in those early days.
 
    “Halcion Days” ... of computing,  when computers were new and lots more fun than debug work, after I taught myself computing,  before Computer Science came along,
 
    Thanks for bringing back all the shared memories, guys.   Now back to my bug-free Pickett – wonder why we called its sliding  indicator window a “Cursor”, instead of a “Mouse”, since it really worked  the same way  :-)
 
Joe Z.
 

From: Don Anderson via groups.io
Sent: Friday, March 12, 2021 2:49 PM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Slide Rules and Slipsticks - in the 1960's B.C. - i.e. (Before Computers)
 
I did my first programing in Fortran with punch cards on an IBM360.
woe be to the person who dropped their program on the way to class!. Sorting a couple hundred punch cards 10 min before class started was stressful!
 
Don Anderson
 
 
On Friday, March 12, 2021, 11:57:15 a.m. MST, Jeffrey Wolff <jmw2800@...> wrote:
 
 
I had to use a slide rule in high school. I remember my Dad buying a basic four function calculator when I was finishing high school.

I learned about HP calculator's in college and bought 3 different programmable calculators by the time I graduated. My first drafting class was using paper, pencils and a bunch of tools to make lines and circles. Eventually did AutoCAD and digital circuit design.

Started programming computers using punch cards. Eventually got my masters in Computer Science and spent my working life running networks, switches, routers, firewalls, wireless, fiber optics and other stuff to bring the Internet to everybody at the university. Been working at my employer since 1989. We went from 1.5 megabits/second for the whole state higher education network to a pair of 100 gigabit/second Internet2 circuits now.