A reader remembers

In 1972 I was employed as a computer programmer for a#country council with the task of writing a rating system.

In 1972 I was employed as a computer programmer for a country council with the task of writing a rating system.

A year later this program was fully operational -- and inspirational. It charged rates, applied penalties, receipted cash and maintained 30,000 magnetic cards. What was it running on, you may ask? An NCR minicomputer with 16KB, no screen, two cassette drives, a manual magnetic card reader and hundreds of cassette tapes. Programs were written in modules on the cassette program tapes. One cassette tape allowing receipts to be inputted. The next would sort the receipts and the next would post the receipts. Rate accounts were printed on the daisy wheel incorporated as part of the minicomputer and many a night was spent watching rate accounts being printed, as they fell off the tracks after a few hundred.

Imagine our joy when a standalone line printer was purchased. Our council was considered a trendsetter, and other local authorities flocked to view and clambered to buy our in-house software. As the council wasn't a money-making organisation I was instructed to give the software away. Don't times change?

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