Saturday, December 16, 2017

My First Week in a Software Job

We were asked, "What was your first week like at your first software engineering job?"

In June, 1955, I went to work for IBM in San Francisco. Of course, at that time there was no such thing as "software engineering." In fact, there was no such thing as a "programmer." My title was "Applied Science Representative." I was supposed to apply science to the sale of IBM computers.

I was told that in two weeks I was to teach a course in programming the IBM 650.

That presented a few problems.

  • I had never programmed any computer before.

  • Nobody in the IBM office had ever programmed a computer before.

  • Nobody in the IBM office had ever seen a computer before.

  • There was no computer in the office—just a bunch of punch card machines.

  • In fact, as far as we knew, there was no computer in San Francisco.

I spent the next two weeks in a closet in the IBM office studying all the IBM manuals that were stored there, preparing myself to teach this course. I was pretty much a lone ranger, without the horse or any faithful Indian companion. Actually, no companion at all.

That was over 60 years ago, and now I have a multitude of companions. Even so, it was a special time and an unforgettable first two weeks, so thank you for asking this question.

If you want to know more about what it was like in those thrilling days of yesteryear, you should follow Danny Faught's blog. Back then, we used to listen to the Lone Ranger on radio (there wasn't much, if any, television).

"Hi-Yo, Silver! A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty ‘Hi-Yo Silver'... The Lone Ranger! With his faithful Indian companion, Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early Western United States. Nowhere in the pages of history can one find a greater champion of justice. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. From out of the past come the thundering hoof-beats of the great horse Silver. The Lone Ranger rides again!"

< (Formerly The Lone Programmer)

1 comment:

Stephen Smoogen said...

After the class...

Who was that masked teacher?
I don't know but he said there was "no silver bullet" when he rode off.