In Response to: From the Archives [6]

The Computer Center was in the basement of a building on Prospect, and women were not allowed in after 11 p.m. But I had work that could only be done at night when rates were much lower, so a few of us women got them to rescind the rule, since it made little sense. At that point there were mostly punch-card machines and a few terminals that were little used. I had my data on big reel tapes that had to be mounted for my programs to run. It made sense to make friends with the computer operators, so they would see that my tapes stayed mounted. Also, the geologists were using huge amounts of run time with their geophysical fluid dynamic analyses (which was climate science), so you had to make friends with them. Then they would allow you to run your punch cards through before they submitted their jobs that would take up the machines for hours. When the results came through, they printed out on green-striped paper with spool holes.

Many of us worked all night, then the center closed at 6 a.m. We went out for breakfast and back home to sleep a lot of the day in preparation for the next night’s computer work. The night denizens were mostly consultants buying time on the University computer, students with lots of data like me, and scientists needing long run times.