Ian Whittingham, PMP is a Program Manager in the Business Transformation group of a leading global news and information company. The views expressed here are his own. You may contact the author directly at email@example.com.
The 16-bit PDP 1170 hummed alone to itself, sequestered with tape drives and modem racks in a particle board-partitioned room, semi-glassed to the ceiling. A little while later, its air-conditioned isolation was punctured by the addition of a companion, a 32-bit VAX 11/780. It was a red letter day when the computer operator announced: “They’re talking” as a stream of DECnet protocol messages scrolled down his HP terminal screen, orange teletype appearing on a black background.
The first of many such clusters--I cannot now recall if they were named “Rupert” and “Robert” (after the Fleet Street press barons, Rupert Murdoch and Robert Maxwell) or “Guns” and “Roses”, or whether they came along much later--but I do know that my first experience of working with that computer operator was easy-going, amiable and collaborative.
When I needed to change the article indexing validation on my text-editor, or amend some other editing function, I would go and sit with one of our two programmers and tell them what I wanted. Depending on the complexity of my request, she would code it up on the spot, and then turn to the operator at the desk behind her and let him know what she had just changed. After a few quick checks, the operator would then copy the modified codebase to the production environment and I