“A HUGE Computer”

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The next summer I landed a job at the medical school, working in the lab of the scientist pictured above. This job paid the astonishing $400 a month for two months. I also got to wear a white lab coat. I had really moved up the job ladder!

However, the work itself was no more exciting than peeling dimes off index cards. This time I got to walk and retrieve the professor’s mail, make coffee, answer the phone and do some key punching. Yes, key punching since he had a gigantic computer. Probably the computing capacity of that large room sized computer was the equivalent of my cell phone today, but it was cutting edge in 1967. Dr. Tunturi was studying brain waves and the effect of concussions, and he needed the equipment for his work.

Actually, the best part of the job was the office intrigue. One married man was carrying on an affair with one of the permanent lab assistants. This caused constant turmoil as some of the others felt that assistant was given more leeway than they were. She probably was! And though most of Portland was hot that summer, I had the advantage of air conditioning in the computer room, since it couldn’t be allowed to overheat. Few buildings had air conditioning at that time, so it was a real treat to stroll around in comfort, lab coat and all.

 

13 thoughts on ““A HUGE Computer”

  1. That man in the photo really does look like a professor.
    I remember when I worked in a company’s office building in 1969. They had just ‘installed’ a computer. It took up a whole floor, and used huge reel-to-reel tapes, with rolls of punch-cards going in at one end. I didn’t have a clue what it was all about, as I could only just manage to use a pocket calculator. In my own department, (company vehicle insurance) we were still using handwritten ledgers, fountain pens, and rubber stamps.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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