Long Distance

  • ParkinT 2012-05-15 08:08
    As I learned long, long ago (in what seems like a Galaxy far, far away) during my [first] career;

    When troubleshooting a communications system walk the ISO model.
  • CAPTCHA: oppeto 2012-05-15 09:04
    The comments page looks so...
    empty...
    fragile..
    vulnerable...
    I wonder how many comments will there be already when I finish posting this.
  • flop 2012-05-15 09:08
    I would have expected something like the 500 mile email ...

    But well, we take what we get, right?
  • KattMan 2012-05-15 09:09
    this sounds like SOP for the mid 80's.
  • TGV 2012-05-15 09:19
    flop:
    I would have expected something like the 500 mile email ...

    But well, we take what we get, right?

    That's a great one!
  • Doubter 2012-05-15 09:24
    So... multiple phone lines for each PC, plus all the hardware was more efficient than the leased lines, just so they could run 3270's?

    /boggle

  • Flash 2012-05-15 09:38
    It's very possible that this setup was a reasonable thing to do. Leased lines were quite expensive.
  • William 2012-05-15 09:42
    I hope he kept a sharp ear out for banjos in those backwoods.

    Squeal like a pig, computer boy!

    CAPTCHA: gravis, which are what I like on my grits
  • 3rd Ferguson 2012-05-15 09:42
    Doubter:
    So... multiple phone lines for each PC, plus all the hardware was more efficient than the leased lines, just so they could run 3270's?


    It's a more efficient use of the company's money for sure. The PCs are a one-time sunk cost or perhaps a depreciating three-year lease, same as the terminals would've been and probably not much more expensive.

    POTS lines are cheap compared to leased lines where you're (in principle) paying the phone company to set up and maintain a piece of copper between two points that exists solely for you.

  • Raymond Chen 2012-05-15 09:42
    That 8087 was inappropriate for its purported purpose. Apparently nobody told management that accounting should be done in exact integer/decimal arithmetic, not floating point. Unless somebody was also doing a little Superman-style penny-shaving.
  • William 2012-05-15 09:42
    That should have been "squeal like a 300 baud modem!"
  • Fake Nagesh 2012-05-15 09:44
    Doubter:
    So... multiple phone lines for each PC, plus all the hardware was more efficient than the leased lines, just so they could run 3270's?

    /boggle



    I worked at Coney Island Hospital in NYC at the time when they were rolling out their "upgrade". They switched from dumb terminals to windows 98 running terminal emulators.

    Support calls went from a dead terminal once every week or so, to "My Computer is frozen" several times a day.

    They couldn't at least go to NT 4? I mean seriously "Windows 98"?
  • Hakan 2012-05-15 09:46
    Surely a multiplexer and a single modem line would be enough to replicate all of the dumb terms. What's the point of having a very expensive modem (damn, in those 80s even a 300 baud was an arm and a leg) for each PC?
  • emaN ruoY 2012-05-15 09:47
    Fake Nagesh:
    Doubter:
    So... multiple phone lines for each PC, plus all the hardware was more efficient than the leased lines, just so they could run 3270's?

    /boggle



    I worked at Coney Island Hospital in NYC at the time when they were rolling out their "upgrade". They switched from dumb terminals to windows 98 running terminal emulators.

    Support calls went from a dead terminal once every week or so, to "My Computer is frozen" several times a day.

    They couldn't at least go to NT 4? I mean seriously "Windows 98"?


    As if NT4 was any more usable. Sure, it may not have crashed as much, but user training would have been crazy.
  • ctd 2012-05-15 09:47
    half the time they were just running a 3270 terminal emulator.


    In other news today, a $25 computer is emulating not just a 3270 terminal, but the whole darned mainframe: http://www.designspark.com/content/my-raspberry-pi-thinks-its-mainframe
  • nonpartisan 2012-05-15 09:58
    If it was truly that back woods, how were they technologically-advanced enough that they could use touch-tone to reach the long-distance operator?
  • Lyle 2012-05-15 10:04
    First!

    Greetings from Alabama
  • Mcoder 2012-05-15 10:11
    Doubter:
    So... multiple phone lines for each PC, plus all the hardware was more efficient than the leased lines, just so they could run 3270's?

    /boggle



    That's called progress. Now let me do some actual work at the VT100 emulation I run on a virtual manchine in my 8GB of RAM six core PC.
  • mt 2012-05-15 10:24
    Um, wouldn't an acoustic coupler work in that situation?

    Then again, training might have been a nightmare.
  • $$ERR:get_name_fail 2012-05-15 10:30
    "When the computer attempted to dial out, he heard the sound of touchtone bleeps followed by a crackly voice saying, "Number please.""

    I pity those poor telephone operators who got prank-called a hundred times with strange beep noises while they tried to get this to work.

  • Gomer Pyle 2012-05-15 10:45
    Still kinda slow down there, eh Lyle?

    CAPTCHA: causa - what came before effecta?
  • AB 2012-05-15 10:46
    FAIL FAIL, FAIL FAIL, FAIL FAIL.

  • P. Almonius 2012-05-15 10:57
    I once was sent to install an IVR system in a city that didn't support touch-tone dialing ...
  • Zylon 2012-05-15 10:59
    In a phone system without direct-dial long distance, it seems unlikely that they'd support touch-tone dialing.
  • MadtM 2012-05-15 11:17
    William:
    That should have been "squeal like a 300 baud modem!"


    +1
  • Beau 2012-05-15 11:25
    They probably didn't.
  • Nagesh 2012-05-15 11:26
    MadtM:
    William:
    That should have been "squeal like a 300 baud modem!"


    +1


    There ain't such thing as promotion coments anymores. :(
  • Nagesh 2012-05-15 11:31
    My clue is Alex is being lazing around now everyday. He ain't caring about this website for now.
  • Ted 2012-05-15 11:37
    Raymond Chen:
    That 8087 was inappropriate for its purported purpose. Apparently nobody told management that accounting should be done in exact integer/decimal arithmetic, not floating point. Unless somebody was also doing a little Superman-style penny-shaving.

    Not to mention that all of the accounting was being done on the mainframe. I doubt the terminal emulator was even touching the 8087.
  • operagost 2012-05-15 11:41
    nonpartisan:
    If it was truly that back woods, how were they technologically-advanced enough that they could use touch-tone to reach the long-distance operator?

    Or have a leased line?
  • Maurits 2012-05-15 11:49
    Raymond Chen:
    That 8087 was inappropriate for its purported purpose. Apparently nobody told management that accounting should be done in exact integer/decimal arithmetic, not floating point. Unless somebody was also doing a little Superman-style penny-shaving.


    Adding up debits and credits should be materialized into whole pennies, absolutely. But if you're calculating a monthly payment on a loan, or if you want to do some forecasting, floating point is appropriate.

    Whether this is "accounting" or "finance" is an open question, though.
  • Nagesh 2012-05-15 11:59
    operagost:
    nonpartisan:
    If it was truly that back woods, how were they technologically-advanced enough that they could use touch-tone to reach the long-distance operator?

    Or have a leased line?

    Here in Hyderabad, leasing ain't being option for mose servises, because it must being aproved by Dehli government.
  • Nagesh 2012-05-15 12:01
    Maurits:
    Raymond Chen:
    That 8087 was inappropriate for its purported purpose. Apparently nobody told management that accounting should be done in exact integer/decimal arithmetic, not floating point. Unless somebody was also doing a little Superman-style penny-shaving.


    Adding up debits and credits should be materialized into whole pennies, absolutely. But if you're calculating a monthly payment on a loan, or if you want to do some forecasting, floating point is appropriate.

    Whether this is "accounting" or "finance" is an open question, though.

    You ain't should be using floating point for dolar amaunts. Using string is preserving consistancy without loss of presicion. Are they ofering numerical analysis in american colege coarses?
  • Rick 2012-05-15 12:10
    nonpartisan:
    If it was truly that back woods, how were they technologically-advanced enough that they could use touch-tone to reach the long-distance operator?
    You are probably thinking that the phone company was AT&T. I can imagine that back then, AT&T made it difficult to connect a relatively modern independent local phone system to their long distance service.
  • Jerry 2012-05-15 12:43
    Fake Nagesh:
    I worked at Coney Island Hospital in NYC at the time when they were rolling out their "upgrade". They switched from dumb terminals to windows 98 running terminal emulators.

    Support calls went from a dead terminal once every week or so, to "My Computer is frozen" several times a day.
    Can't be true. Windows has never had any problems. Ask any MS astroturfer fanboi.

    (Cue "it used to be bad, but the latest version..." in 3... 2... 1...)
  • Frank 2012-05-15 12:46
    the first thing Lawrence did was crank the volume on the modem speaker. When the computer attempted to dial out, he heard the sound of touchtone bleeps followed by a crackly voice saying, "Number please."
    Dumb bitch couldn't figure out it was a computer calling and interpret the beeps? See, that's why we had to fire them all and replace them with machines.
  • FedITGeek 2012-05-15 12:46
    Part of the phone system easily could have moved over to tone dialing, yet still had some outdated infrastructure. I lived in NC in the early 80's, and while we had people using modems for BBS connections, and yet we still occasionally ended up on shared "party line" calls depending on the area of the county, who you were calling, etc.
  • James 2012-05-15 12:48
    Sting? Are you DAFT? Hope I don't have to submit a DailyWTF based on your code! I would just love to debug code that performed dollar amount calculations in strings, that would be just lovely!

    Of course they teach numerical analysis in American College Courses! But obviously, you failed "English"...

  • Nagesh 2012-05-15 12:49
    Jerry:
    Fake Nagesh:
    I worked at Coney Island Hospital in NYC at the time when they were rolling out their "upgrade". They switched from dumb terminals to windows 98 running terminal emulators.

    Support calls went from a dead terminal once every week or so, to "My Computer is frozen" several times a day.
    Cain't be true. Windows has never had any problems. Ask any MS astroturfer fanboi.

    (Cue "it used to be bad, but the latest version..." in 3... 2... 1...)
    FTFY
  • ExChickenFarmer 2012-05-15 12:54
    I'm the OP. Actually the computers were 8 Bit CP/M machines. They were custom built for our company (a WTF in itself). There were only 4 per plant so they just shared a dial-up phone line. It was very slow because with every screen it waited for the line to be free, dialed the mainframe, connected, submitted the request, received the data, and hung up.

    My boss called in some favors so we were able to give some of the users two computers. That way they could type into screens on one PC while the other one was waiting for the other to connect and transmit.

    The users hated the new setup but it did save a *LOT* of money by eliminating the leased lines with 3275 terminals. Leased lines were very expensive then. I wasn't privy to the figures on whether we were paying more for overtime than we saved on leased line costs.

    Most of the towns where we had plants did support touch tone dialing and direct dial, but one didn't. The phone company there was very small with only a couple of counties as it's franchise. We could configure the modem to dial using clicks instead of tones, but it wasn't possible at that location to make long distance calls or calls to toll free numbers without operator assistance.

    Prior to installation we contacted the phone company to make sure they supported direct dial and they said that they did. Of course, when we pressed them on that point they said that they meant that they "planned" to support it.
  • Zylon 2012-05-15 13:13
    ExChickenFarmer:
    I'm the OP. Actually the computers were 8 Bit CP/M machines. They were custom built for our company (a WTF in itself). There were only 4 per plant so they just shared a dial-up phone line. It was very slow because with every screen it waited for the line to be free, dialed the mainframe, connected, submitted the request, received the data, and hung up.

    Cripes. Yet another case of Remy anonymizing stories almost to the point of being pure fiction.
  • ekolis 2012-05-15 13:23
    ExChickenFarmer:

    Most of the towns where we had plants did support touch tone dialing and direct dial, but one didn't. The phone company there was very small with only a couple of counties as it's franchise. We could configure the modem to dial using clicks instead of tones, but it wasn't possible at that location to make long distance calls or calls to toll free numbers without operator assistance.


    Could you have done some sort of proxy thing where the one backwater town calls one of the other towns locally, and the second town calls long-distance to wherever the first one wanted to connect to?
  • ronintoronto 2012-05-15 13:24
    nonpartisan:
    If it was truly that back woods, how were they technologically-advanced enough that they could use touch-tone to reach the long-distance operator?


    Modems always have supported Pulse dialing for "Alabama-level" telephone systems.
  • Paul 2012-05-15 13:45
    Wondering if it would have been feasible to have an acoustic coupling type modem and a handset, call the operator on the handset, give them the number to call long-distance and when they connect the call put the handset in the modem coupler and get the connection going. I've had to use similar workarounds to make long-distance/international fax calls with a calling card, dialing manually then hitting "start" when the ring-tone comes through.

    Having to do that every time you needed to make a connection would have gotten real old, real fast though.

    On that note I guess the "drop the connection after every screen" feature was at least partly inspired by the need to avoid racking up long distance charges while reading the contents of a screen. I used to live somewhere that had per-minute local call charges and when I first had dial-up internet I would connect, transfer mail and newsgroups messages, pull up any web pages I wanted to read, then disconnect while I read them. I do NOT miss those days.
  • Strolskon 2012-05-15 13:54
    Frank:
    the first thing Lawrence did was crank the volume on the modem speaker. When the computer attempted to dial out, he heard the sound of touchtone bleeps followed by a crackly voice saying, "Number please."
    Dumb bitch couldn't figure out it was a computer calling and interpret the beeps? See, that's why we had to fire them all and replace them with machines.


    I can actually imagine modems incorporating a "workaround" for these situations: the digits 0 to 9 prerecorded, played back in the necessary combination when they find a human.

    That might be too advanced for a little 1980s modem. You'd need to incorporate a cassette player and all that.
  • Jack 2012-05-15 14:06
    Strolskon:
    Frank:
    the first thing Lawrence did was crank the volume on the modem speaker. When the computer attempted to dial out, he heard the sound of touchtone bleeps followed by a crackly voice saying, "Number please."
    Dumb bitch couldn't figure out it was a computer calling and interpret the beeps? See, that's why we had to fire them all and replace them with machines.


    I can actually imagine modems incorporating a "workaround" for these situations: the digits 0 to 9 prerecorded, played back in the necessary combination when they find a human.

    That might be too advanced for a little 1980s modem. You'd need to incorporate a cassette player and all that.


    Didn't musical greeting cards exist in the '80s? They could have used something like that. It doesn't have to be especially clear, since none of the digits' pronunciations are that close.
  • Nagesh 2012-05-15 14:14
    In 1988 at univarsity, I need to write workaround for java.net.URL because it ain't working whilthout physical conection for destination.
  • Gunslinger 2012-05-15 14:27
    AB:
    FAIL FAIL, FAIL FAIL, FAIL FAIL.



    Dammit, that was what I was going to say.
  • Jay 2012-05-15 15:02
    ExChickenFarmer:
    ... We could configure the modem to dial using clicks instead of tones ...


    And when I read that, my mind immediately said, "Sure, AT DP". I'm sure glad I remember Hayes modem commands, even though I haven't coded commands to a modem in about 20 years. Acoustic couplers are coming back, you know. This broadband thing is just a passing fad.
  • Jay 2012-05-15 15:14
    Paul:
    Wondering if it would have been feasible to have an acoustic coupling type modem and a handset, call the operator on the handset, give them the number to call long-distance and when they connect the call put the handset in the modem coupler and get the connection going. I've had to use similar workarounds to make long-distance/international fax calls with a calling card, dialing manually then hitting "start" when the ring-tone comes through.

    Having to do that every time you needed to make a connection would have gotten real old, real fast though.

    On that note I guess the "drop the connection after every screen" feature was at least partly inspired by the need to avoid racking up long distance charges while reading the contents of a screen. I used to live somewhere that had per-minute local call charges and when I first had dial-up internet I would connect, transfer mail and newsgroups messages, pull up any web pages I wanted to read, then disconnect while I read them. I do NOT miss those days.


    RE dialing by hand: This is exactly how we did it when I was in high school. We had to call the school operator, get an outside line, dial in, wait for the carrier tone, and then put the handset into the acoustic coupler. It was awkward but it worked fine. But yes, if you had to do that for every screen, that would get real tedious.

    RE long distance charges: That's why there were WATS lines, which stands for "Wide Area Telephone Service" or something ilke that. You paid a flat monthly fee for unlimited long-distance calls. I guess incoming WATS is still around: that's what an 800 number is. I don't know if there's still outgoing WATS. Cell phones these days tend to charge the same rate for local or long distance, it looks like that distinction is going away.

  • Jay 2012-05-15 15:18
    Doubter:
    So... multiple phone lines for each PC, plus all the hardware was more efficient than the leased lines, just so they could run 3270's?


    Short answer: Yes.

    When PCs first came out, it was cheaper to buy a PC then to buy a 3270 terminal. A typical PC then was circa $2500. A 3270 terminal was about $10,000. I always wondered why: a 3270 does a whole lot less than a PC.

    Dedicated lines are more expensive than regular phone lines. That's not so mysterious. With a dedicated line, it's all yours, so you have to pay the entire cost. With a regular phone line, the wire that goes from the phone pole to your building is yours, but the rest is shared with many other users, so you can share the cost.
  • macwhiz 2012-05-15 15:49
    Jay:
    With a regular phone line, the wire that goes from the phone pole to your building is yours, but the rest is shared with many other users, so you can share the cost.


    Uh... not quite, not unless you're on a party line.

    With POTS, the wire between your phone(s) and the telephone company switch is "yours". If you're some distance from the nearest switch, your signal might be aggregated onto a digital carrier via a SLC/DLC, but you'd still have a dedicated "circuit" within that aggregated carrier.

    The cost savings comes from the difference in how the signal is handled between phone switches. With a dedicated line, you don't go through a switch; your line is one circuit end-to-end. That means a LOT of amplifiers and line conditioners to make it work, and those are expensive. With POTS, your call is switched onto an available trunk line between exchanges, which can be used by someone else when you're not using it. In other words, it's a very coarse form of time-division multiplexing.

    Of course, nowadays most phone companies use VoIP or the equivalent instead of interexchange trunks, and "dedicated lines" usually use permanent virtual circuits over an ATM/SONET link instead of a long copper pair... but this article clearly predates all that jazz.
  • Jim Rees 2012-05-15 16:18
    1. Interpreting Touchtone is easy. There's a box that goes in front of the switch that converts tone to pulse. In the 80s you paid for this box with a monthly charge. Direct distance dialling, on the other hand, is hard. Not so much because the call setup is hard, but because the billing is hard. I'm not sure, but I think it might even be impossible on a step-by-step exchange, which could be what they had.

    2. The "dumb bitch" Operator couldn't tell it was a modem calling. That's because the calling end of a 300 baud modem makes no sound until after it hears the other end.
  • John 2012-05-15 17:03
    Back in the day I supported a small branch office which used a RAS server with dial-up to provide interwebs to multiple users. They called and said it wasn't working. I figured out there was no dial tone and when I went to look at the box where the line came into the building found that the owner's horse, which he often brought with him to work, had eaten the phone line.
  • Some Damn Yank 2012-05-15 18:32
    nonpartisan:
    If it was truly that back woods, how were they technologically-advanced enough that they could use touch-tone to reach the long-distance operator?
    OK, it was the mid-1960s not the 1980s, but when I was a kid we lived in Naperville, Ill, and we were a test market for them-thar newfangled button phones. The local exchange was 355 (EL5, in those days), and to call locally we only had to press five digits - "5" plus the subscriber's 4-digit number. The whole thing was so new the phones didn't have the "*" and "#" buttons we take for granted today. Yet for long distance, even with this cutting-edge telephone technology, we had to press the good old "O" for "Operator" button...
  • Earp 2012-05-15 19:37
    I can top that, I worked at a place in 2000 that had just installed a NT3.x server, running Citrix on the the _Windows 3.11 shell_.

    95 and 98 would have been wonderful.
  • Fake Nagesh 2012-05-15 20:22
    emaN ruoY:
    Fake Nagesh:
    Doubter:
    So... multiple phone lines for each PC, plus all the hardware was more efficient than the leased lines, just so they could run 3270's?

    /boggle



    I worked at Coney Island Hospital in NYC at the time when they were rolling out their "upgrade". They switched from dumb terminals to windows 98 running terminal emulators.

    Support calls went from a dead terminal once every week or so, to "My Computer is frozen" several times a day.

    They couldn't at least go to NT 4? I mean seriously "Windows 98"?


    As if NT4 was any more usable. Sure, it may not have crashed as much, but user training would have been crazy.


    All it did was run terminal emulator. I think they could've figured it out...
  • Fake Nagesh 2012-05-15 20:30
    Jerry:
    Fake Nagesh:
    I worked at Coney Island Hospital in NYC at the time when they were rolling out their "upgrade". They switched from dumb terminals to windows 98 running terminal emulators.

    Support calls went from a dead terminal once every week or so, to "My Computer is frozen" several times a day.
    Can't be true. Windows has never had any problems. Ask any MS astroturfer fanboi.

    (Cue "it used to be bad, but the latest version..." in 3... 2... 1...)


    I don't think windows has fanbois. Windows has real users who, while understanding that windows sucks, know that all other OSes suck more, and windows is the best out there.
  • Norman Diamond 2012-05-15 23:17
    Raymond Chen:
    That 8087 was inappropriate for its purported purpose. Apparently nobody told management that accounting should be done in exact integer/decimal arithmetic, not floating point. Unless somebody was also doing a little Superman-style penny-shaving.
    Surely you've observed that many of the postings on this site include multiple WTFs?

    Meanwhile, if the PCs were running Word then 8087s could speed things up even if the PCs were in the accounting department. I wonder if Winmodem drivers used floating point too (which would require a lot of care but might be faster than doing fixed-point in software).
  • Norman Diamond 2012-05-15 23:23
    In 1988 in an industrialized city in Texas I dialled a long distance number, and an operator came on the line and asked what number. I don't remember if that phone was touch-tone.

    At home I'm too cheap to pay the premium for touch-tone so my phone system recognizes buttons and dials out clicks. Even the fax's modem dials out clicks.

    One of my colleagues has to dial out through a cellular modem when he's on site at a client that doesn't allow other kinds of connections. Though he gets to use touch-tone and direct dialling.
  • Philip Newton 2012-05-16 00:13
    Norman Diamond:
    I wonder if Winmodem drivers used floating point too (which would require a lot of care but might be faster than doing fixed-point in software).

    I think that back when they still had 8088s, the concept of Winmodems (and Winprinters) didn't exist.

    A combination of general-purpose CPUs not really being fast enough compared to the special-purpose chips in a modem/printer on the one hand, and computer peripherals not having the price pressure on them yet that made manufacturers try to cut costs by removing such special-purpose chips.
  • L. 2012-05-16 02:35
    Earp:
    I can top that, I worked at a place in 2000 that had just installed a NT3.x server, running Citrix on the the _Windows 3.11 shell_.

    95 and 98 would have been wonderful.

    I think they had invented unix by then. and linux too. and you want 95/98 ?
  • Steve The Cynic 2012-05-16 03:25
    Strolskon:
    That might be too advanced for a little 1980s modem. You'd need to incorporate a cassette player and all that.

    That makes me think of

    Addendum (2012-05-16 03:39):
    ** makes me think of around 1988 when the repair man came to the pool room at the student union building to work on the Gauntlet machine. A bunch of the CS students regularly hung around there, so the fact that he had the machine open attracted some attention.

    I was mildly surprised at just how little there was inside - a PSU, a couple of medium-large circuit boards, the CRT and speakers, and a whole lot of air.

    Those of you who played it back then will remember all the grunts and shouts produced by the in-game characters as they did stuff and took damage. One of my fellow CS students was totally baffled by the absence of a tape player to play back these sounds...
  • NotNagesh 2012-05-16 07:08
    James:
    Sting? Are you DAFT? Hope I don't have to submit a DailyWTF based on your code! I would just love to debug code that performed dollar amount calculations in strings, that would be just lovely!

    Of course they teach numerical analysis in American College Courses! But obviously, you failed "English"...



    And you couldn't tell it was a prank post because ... ?
  • QJo 2012-05-16 08:22
    Norman Diamond:
    I wonder if Winmodem drivers used floating point too (which would require a lot of care but might be faster than doing fixed-point in software).


    Bloody Winmodem drivers, they're the ones who cause all the accidents.
  • QJo 2012-05-16 08:31
    James:
    Sting? Are you DAFT? Hope I don't have to submit a DailyWTF based on your code! I would just love to debug code that performed dollar amount calculations in strings, that would be just lovely!

    Of course they teach numerical analysis in American College Courses! But obviously, you failed "English"...



    You may laugh, but when I was tasked with writing an app to extract numbers from an Oracle database and use a Java tool to squirt the results through a C socket into a FORTRAN program running on a VAX, the only straightforwardly reliable technique for passing a large number of floats back and forward was to pipe them across as strings. Relying on the internal format to be sufficiently consistent to allow us to write a converter (there wasn't a pre-built one available at the time) was too risky, and the effort in writing it wasn't worth the candle. Using the toString method at the Java end and FORMAT (F15.5) or whatever at the FORTRAN end was perfectly adequate.
  • Anonymous 2012-05-16 08:48
    I still remember the command to turn up the speaker:
    ATL3
    I'm old...
  • doconnor 2012-05-16 08:52
    The machines probably had more then 16K of RAM. 128K was the standard at the time. Even the lowly IBM PCjr had at least 64K.
  • Pieter 2012-05-16 09:22
    You must be American, aren't you?
  • TheRider 2012-05-16 09:31
    Fake Nagesh:
    Jerry:
    Fake Nagesh:
    I worked at Coney Island Hospital in NYC at the time when they were rolling out their "upgrade". They switched from dumb terminals to windows 98 running terminal emulators.

    Support calls went from a dead terminal once every week or so, to "My Computer is frozen" several times a day.
    Can't be true. Windows has never had any problems. Ask any MS astroturfer fanboi.

    (Cue "it used to be bad, but the latest version..." in 3... 2... 1...)


    I don't think windows has fanbois. Windows has real users who, while understanding that windows sucks, know that all other OSes suck more, and windows is the best out there.
    Well, maybe not *the* best (whatever that is), but it gets the job done.
  • ExChickenFarmer 2012-05-16 09:47
    The CRT in a 3270 was far superior and much more expensive to make than the CRT in a PC monitor. The characters were clearer and the contrast easier to endure for long periods of time.
  • L. 2012-05-16 10:15
    Anonymous:
    I still remember the command to turn up the speaker:
    ATL3
    I'm old...


    No, but your brain is full of useless crap.

    The good news, that's true for most of us, dnkrow.
  • A Gould 2012-05-16 10:26
    macwhiz:

    Uh... not quite, not unless you're on a party line.


    Ah, the original "warrantless wiretapping" :)
  • DWalker 2012-05-16 10:34
    Norman Diamond:
    In 1988 in an industrialized city in Texas I dialled a long distance number, and an operator came on the line and asked what number. I don't remember if that phone was touch-tone.

    At home I'm too cheap to pay the premium for touch-tone so my phone system recognizes buttons and dials out clicks. Even the fax's modem dials out clicks.

    One of my colleagues has to dial out through a cellular modem when he's on site at a client that doesn't allow other kinds of connections. Though he gets to use touch-tone and direct dialling.


    "the premium for touch-tone"??? Huh? I use touch-tone (in the USA) and I think the premium charge went away about 25 years ago. What country are you in?
  • nonpartisan 2012-05-16 10:35
    ronintoronto:
    nonpartisan:
    If it was truly that back woods, how were they technologically-advanced enough that they could use touch-tone to reach the long-distance operator?


    Modems always have supported Pulse dialing for "Alabama-level" telephone systems.
    Right. I knew that, but the story indicated they heard the tones dial and then "number please."

    But the question is . . . did the operator understand either pulse or DTMF?
  • Lockwood 2012-05-16 10:42
    "Is it just be, or have bronies kinda ruined my unicorns. Maybe I should stop doing them… Just kidding. Nothing can ruin my unicorns!"

    Your unicorns make TDWTF brony accessible.
    Moar unicorns plox!
  • acsi 2012-05-16 11:53
    You see? This is why when most people go for first post, they just stop at "FRIST"
  • Silfax 2012-05-16 12:06
    Jay:


    When PCs first came out, it was cheaper to buy a PC then to buy a 3270 terminal. A typical PC then was circa $2500. A 3270 terminal was about $10,000. I always wondered why: a 3270 does a whole lot less than a PC.


    The physical construction probably made up most of the cost. 3270s were nearly indestructible, weighed as much as a large child, were built like tanks and designed to take abuse. The keyboard alone weighed about 8 lbs, and it was extremely comfortable to use for long periods of time (imho anyway).



  • WhiskeyJack 2012-05-16 12:57
    Anonymous:
    I still remember the command to turn up the speaker:
    ATL3
    I'm old...


    +++
    OK
    ATH
    NO CARRIER
  • Larry 2012-05-16 13:16
    Steve The Cynic:
    Those of you who played it back then will remember all the grunts and shouts produced by the in-game characters as they did stuff and took damage. One of my fellow CS students was totally baffled by the absence of a tape player to play back these sounds...
    One tape player? You'd need a separate one for each sound effect! You can't wait five seconds for the tape to fast-forward to the desired grunt effect.

    Seriously though, I know CS students crank through some awesome math and such, but judging by their work product, they should never be allowed near a real computer. Stick to doing "research" and writing papers and stuff like that.
  • Kuba 2012-05-16 13:31
    3rd Ferguson:
    Doubter:
    So... multiple phone lines for each PC, plus all the hardware was more efficient than the leased lines, just so they could run 3270's?
    It's a more efficient use of the company's money for sure. The PCs are a one-time sunk cost or perhaps a depreciating three-year lease, same as the terminals would've been and probably not much more expensive.

    POTS lines are cheap compared to leased lines where you're (in principle) paying the phone company to set up and maintain a piece of copper between two points that exists solely for you.
    Ah, that's perhaps what the telcos would like you to believe. In any case it'd be a pipe dream: copper has losses, and if you're hooked up to a mainframe a 1000 miles away, you don't want point-to-point copper!

    A leased line is pretty much just a setting at the switch, nothing more, nothing less. There is usually no extra piece of copper to maintain, and the copper definitely is not point-to-point anyway, it goes to a card at the beginning of the last mile, and it's digital from there onwards. Long haul has been digital for quite a while. A run-of-the-mill leased line is a line that has no dialtone and the circuit is always up. If you hook up phones at the ends, you pick up the receivers and they are connected. If it's a digital line, then it's T1 or a multiple thereof, and again, the data is simply forwarded unchanged between the endpoints via a circuit set up at the switch(es). That's how leased lines that I've seen looked like.
  • Nagesh 2012-05-16 13:34
    i am surprised so many people are using my name to make posts.
  • Nagesh 2012-05-16 14:30
    Ain't another article today? Ain't naming this website the daily wtf?
  • Evan 2012-05-16 14:46
    Paul:
    Wondering if it would have been feasible to have an acoustic coupling type modem and a handset, call the operator on the handset, give them the number to call long-distance and when they connect the call put the handset in the modem coupler and get the connection going. I've had to use similar workarounds to make long-distance/international fax calls with a calling card, dialing manually then hitting "start" when the ring-tone comes through.

    Who remembers the days of AOL? And when they switched from per-minute payments to unlimited?

    For some time it was very difficult to dial in successfully at peak hours without getting a busy signal. What we did was dial the number on the nearby phone, which had a redial button that made retrying much faster than letting the computer do it. If we got something other than a busy signal, we quickly hit the connect button in the software and hoped we were fast enough it would "dial" quick enough that it would connect. Sometimes did, sometimes didn't.
  • Larry Sheldon 2012-05-16 14:50
    We installed bright MODEMs--that could detect dial tone. Most of the time.
  • Strolskon 2012-05-16 15:31
    Nagesh:
    Ain't another article today? Ain't naming this website the daily wtf?

    You're trying really hard.
  • Nagesh 2012-05-16 15:57
    Strolskon:
    Nagesh:
    Ain't another article today? Ain't naming this website the daily wtf?

    You're trying really hard.

    Ain't you?
  • Strolskon 2012-05-16 16:02
    Nagesh:
    Strolskon:
    Nagesh:
    Ain't another article today? Ain't naming this website the daily wtf?

    You're trying really hard.

    Ain't you?

    Tis too hard.
  • OccupyWallStreet 2012-05-16 16:05
    Fake Nagesh:
    Jerry:
    Fake Nagesh:
    I worked at Coney Island Hospital in NYC at the time when they were rolling out their "upgrade". They switched from dumb terminals to windows 98 running terminal emulators.

    Support calls went from a dead terminal once every week or so, to "My Computer is frozen" several times a day.
    Can't be true. Windows has never had any problems. Ask any MS astroturfer fanboi.

    (Cue "it used to be bad, but the latest version..." in 3... 2... 1...)


    I don't think windows has fanbois. Windows has real users who, while understanding that windows sucks, know that all other OSes suck more, and windows is the best out there.


    Oh there were a few - in the mid-90's when Windows 95 was coming out with its "Pre-emptive Multitasking" and "Protected Memory" - they used to diss Mac and DOS users about it. Not that any of that stuff made 95 any more stable or anything. NT was a godsend comparatively speaking. (If you never used OS/2, you could finally format a floppy in Windows and do other useful stuff...)
  • It's a Cock! It's a Fist! It's Zoonerman! 2012-05-16 16:22
    Strolskon:
    Nagesh:
    Strolskon:
    Nagesh:
    Ain't another article today? Ain't naming this website the daily wtf?

    You're trying really hard.

    Ain't you?

    Tis too hard.
    I'm hard as fuck.
  • Jim 2012-05-16 16:56
    Evan:
    Who remembers the days of AOL? And when they switched from per-minute payments to unlimited?

    For some time it was very difficult to dial in successfully at peak hours without getting a busy signal. What we did was dial the number on the nearby phone, which had a redial button that made retrying much faster than letting the computer do it. If we got something other than a busy signal, we quickly hit the connect button in the software and hoped we were fast enough it would "dial" quick enough that it would connect. Sometimes did, sometimes didn't.
    So you're the guy!

    Let me share with you just exactly how destructive your thoughtless "me first" attitude was.

    I had designed and prototyped a working Internet (I called it "DataScape") with a full featured web-browser-like-thingie (I called it "DataScape Traveller") back in those days. Plus, it was fully secure from the ground floor, by design. It would have been so much better than what we ended up with.

    I was ready to upload all the details, specs, and free software to AOL, but I couldn't get in. Imagine how much different the world would be today if not for your assholosity.
  • CS student 2012-05-16 18:16
    Larry:
    Steve The Cynic:
    Those of you who played it back then will remember all the grunts and shouts produced by the in-game characters as they did stuff and took damage. One of my fellow CS students was totally baffled by the absence of a tape player to play back these sounds...
    One tape player? You'd need a separate one for each sound effect! You can't wait five seconds for the tape to fast-forward to the desired grunt effect.

    Seriously though, I know CS students crank through some awesome math and such, but judging by their work product, they should never be allowed near a real computer. Stick to doing "research" and writing papers and stuff like that.
    Yup. Everyone knows the best programmers are Arts students - that's why we have this site, so the CS students who don't cut code can laugh at the Arts students who do...

  • Bottom 2012-05-16 18:19
    TRWTF is that Nagesh is getting worse and people still respond (and try to correct him)
  • Norman Diamond 2012-05-16 19:36
    DWalker:
    Norman Diamond:
    At home I'm too cheap to pay the premium for touch-tone so my phone system recognizes buttons and dials out clicks. Even the fax's modem dials out clicks.
    "the premium for touch-tone"??? Huh? I use touch-tone (in the USA) and I think the premium charge went away about 25 years ago. What country are you in?
    Japan.

    Handsets overload the * button when a call has been answered, so that button presses after that (until the call ends) will be transmitted as tones instead of clicks. So I'm hardly the only person who's too cheap to pay the premium for touch-tone.
  • Norman Diamond 2012-05-16 19:50
    QJo:
    James:
    I would just love to debug code that performed dollar amount calculations in strings, that would be just lovely!
    You may laugh, but when I was tasked with writing an app to extract numbers from an Oracle database and use a Java tool to squirt the results through a C socket into a FORTRAN program running on a VAX, the only straightforwardly reliable technique for passing a large number of floats back and forward was to pipe them across as strings. Relying on the internal format to be sufficiently consistent to allow us to write a converter (there wasn't a pre-built one available at the time) was too risky, and the effort in writing it wasn't worth the candle. Using the toString method at the Java end and FORMAT (F15.5) or whatever at the FORTRAN end was perfectly adequate.
    F15.5? Not E21.15? I hope my life doesn't depend on the accuracy of your conversions.

    Meanwhile, there was a subroutine to convert floating point numbers from VAX format to IEEE format, but only one of my colleagues knew about it so I guess it wasn't available to you. This kind of tool didn't get anywhere because it only took me an hour to write.
  • Anon 2012-05-16 22:50
    In fact they couldve stuck with it just fine. They just had to pick up the and ask for the phone number to be connected then send ATX0D so the modem doesn't wait for the and dials an empty number. As soon as the other side picks up they do their handshake just fine.

    Or X3 I think, since X0 also ignores the busy signal

    Then again, if the town was so backwards they might have had so few outgoing lines they would've complained about the always-on connection. And the leased line was easier on the users too.
  • lucidfox 2012-05-17 01:31
    TRWTF is floating point financial calculations.
  • JichaelMackson 2012-05-17 03:48
    16KB of RAM? Four times that, and it'll be all that I ever need.
  • QJo 2012-05-17 05:05
    Norman Diamond:
    QJo:
    James:
    I would just love to debug code that performed dollar amount calculations in strings, that would be just lovely!
    You may laugh, but when I was tasked with writing an app to extract numbers from an Oracle database and use a Java tool to squirt the results through a C socket into a FORTRAN program running on a VAX, the only straightforwardly reliable technique for passing a large number of floats back and forward was to pipe them across as strings. Relying on the internal format to be sufficiently consistent to allow us to write a converter (there wasn't a pre-built one available at the time) was too risky, and the effort in writing it wasn't worth the candle. Using the toString method at the Java end and FORMAT (F15.5) or whatever at the FORTRAN end was perfectly adequate.
    F15.5? Not E21.15? I hope my life doesn't depend on the accuracy of your conversions.

    Meanwhile, there was a subroutine to convert floating point numbers from VAX format to IEEE format, but only one of my colleagues knew about it so I guess it wasn't available to you. This kind of tool didn't get anywhere because it only took me an hour to write.


    No, don't worry your fluffy little head about that, your life would *not* depend on such accuracy. The numbers as extracted from the database were already fairly well rounded and truncated, and were being used solely as the data for financial management reports which we were desperately trying to wean the customer off.

    After considerable research into the nature of the various formats in which the numbers were stored, we came to the conclusion that there was too much uncertainty and risk involved, not to mention the fact that the utter pointlessness of what the customer was insisting that we do gave us a rather more laissez-faire attitude. There's a trade-off between "doing it right" (finding an ubernurd who would delight in writing a neat little widgetymajig for converting between various obscure floating-point implementations) and "doing it cost-effectively" e.g. by just saying "ah bugger it, we'll use strings."

    And no, it probably wasn't F15.5, I pulled the numbers out of the air without thinking about them too much, for illustrative purposes. It would probably be F16.3, which would have been sufficient to cover the numbers we were transferring. But the fact that you suggested E21.15 suggests that you don't actually have much of a clue about the general problem domain - or that you're trolling.
  • L. 2012-05-17 05:19
    Jim:
    Evan:
    Who remembers the days of AOL? And when they switched from per-minute payments to unlimited?

    For some time it was very difficult to dial in successfully at peak hours without getting a busy signal. What we did was dial the number on the nearby phone, which had a redial button that made retrying much faster than letting the computer do it. If we got something other than a busy signal, we quickly hit the connect button in the software and hoped we were fast enough it would "dial" quick enough that it would connect. Sometimes did, sometimes didn't.
    So you're the guy!

    Let me share with you just exactly how destructive your thoughtless "me first" attitude was.

    I had designed and prototyped a working Internet (I called it "DataScape") with a full featured web-browser-like-thingie (I called it "DataScape Traveller") back in those days. Plus, it was fully secure from the ground floor, by design. It would have been so much better than what we ended up with.

    I was ready to upload all the details, specs, and free software to AOL, but I couldn't get in. Imagine how much different the world would be today if not for your assholosity.
    +1 for made-up word
  • DaveK 2012-05-17 06:42
    ParkinT:
    As I learned long, long ago (in what seems like a Galaxy far, far away) during my [first] career;

    When troubleshooting a communications system walk the ISO model.
    Or, if you know about algorithmic optimisation, binary chop it.
  • depressed cheescake 2012-05-17 07:24
    QJo:
    James:
    Sting? Are you DAFT? Hope I don't have to submit a DailyWTF based on your code! I would just love to debug code that performed dollar amount calculations in strings, that would be just lovely!

    Of course they teach numerical analysis in American College Courses! But obviously, you failed "English"...



    You may laugh, but when I was tasked with writing an app to extract numbers from an Oracle database and use a Java tool to squirt the results through a C socket into a FORTRAN program running on a VAX, the only straightforwardly reliable technique for passing a large number of floats back and forward was to pipe them across as strings. Relying on the internal format to be sufficiently consistent to allow us to write a converter (there wasn't a pre-built one available at the time) was too risky, and the effort in writing it wasn't worth the candle. Using the toString method at the Java end and FORMAT (F15.5) or whatever at the FORTRAN end was perfectly adequate.


    yeah but converting floats to strings and visa versa isn't the same as using strings to perform float calculations which was the point ... this is no laughing matter
  • Alphadawg 2012-05-17 14:32
    lucidfox:
    TRWTF is floating point financial calculations.
    Oh, really? No one's ever thought of THAT before!

    You're that one chick, aren't you? Fuck, has any woman ever had an original though in her life?!

    No wonder women are the new face of poverty - they just stand around and mimic what everyone else in the room ("everyone else" probably being all men, just to be realistic - unless it's a fucking fabric store) is saying and then bitching when it's not a huge hit.

    I mean, who wants to have a beer and watch the game with that?

    You want to be helpful, honey?
    Learn to suppress your gag reflex like a good whore.
    I'm so sorry, I wish I could stop, what's wrong with me!?!?!?!
  • MCI 2012-05-17 14:43
    Partly correct. There are leased lines that are dedicated to the end points. They are't copper all the way but the path between points A & Z are dedicated to those points. You can put your finger on this path. These were typically for voice grade data but there were a number of ringdown lines. The endpoints deal with the signaling. These are rare now days.

    The most common leased lines were "virtual". There is a dedicated path between the end points and the switches. But once the call got to the switch it routed via shared trunking. These still exist in great numbers.
  • JJ 2012-05-17 17:38
    JichaelMackson:
    16KB of RAM? Four times that, and it'll be all that I ever need.

    Is this a DailyWTF meme? Because I saw a post in another thread talking about how "64K should be enough for everybody." The (supposedly, if it ever happened at all) original quote is about 640K, not 64K.
  • Maurits 2012-05-17 18:34
    JJ:
    JichaelMackson:
    16KB of RAM? Four times that, and it'll be all that I ever need.

    Is this a DailyWTF meme? Because I saw a post in another thread talking about how "64K should be enough for everybody." The (supposedly, if it ever happened at all) original quote is about 640K, not 64K.


    Well, the difference between "64K" and "640K" is 0, which makes very little difference.

    I must admit I don't understand why 640K would be a limit. 64K, sure (16-bit pointers, for example.) But 640K isn't even a power of 2.

    EDIT: here it is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conventional_memory#640_KB_barrier
  • Norman Diamond 2012-05-17 19:25
    QJo:
    Norman Diamond:
    QJo:
    Using the toString method at the Java end and FORMAT (F15.5) or whatever at the FORTRAN end was perfectly adequate.
    F15.5? Not E21.15? I hope my life doesn't depend on the accuracy of your conversions.
    No, don't worry your fluffy little head about that, your life would *not* depend on such accuracy.

    [...]

    And no, it probably wasn't F15.5, I pulled the numbers out of the air without thinking about them too much, for illustrative purposes. It would probably be F16.3, which would have been sufficient to cover the numbers we were transferring.
    F16.3 yields 3 decimal places of accuracy, which become all zeros for numbers smaller than 0.001 or which become stars for numbers greater than 1 trillion. That comes even closer to a spec which I was supposed to conform to before a customer was persuaded to change it. The resulting loss of accuracy would cause a collision avoidance system to produce meaningless results. It's a relief to know that lives did not depend on your system. It was also a relief when that customer was persuaded to allow more accuracy.
    QJo:
    But the fact that you suggested E21.15 suggests that you don't actually have much of a clue about the general problem domain - or that you're trolling.
    Back at you. E21.15 provides 15 digits of precision regardless of what the exponent is. I hope my life will never depend on anything you produce.
  • JJ 2012-05-18 10:41
    Maurits:
    I must admit I don't understand why 640K would be a limit. 64K, sure (16-bit pointers, for example.) But 640K isn't even a power of 2.

    Wow, you actually had to look it up? Now I feel old....
  • Fishie 2012-05-19 18:18
    This reminds where was telecommunications in our country during 80s. Wait time for landline 5-10 years. Manual connection even to 12km distances with extra paid. Even in 1991. No digital trunks,no fiber optics, data rejected by communist goverment only teletype and fax. Last analog phone exchange was disconnected around 2000. Local calls are still charged per minute and there never existed flat rate dialup.
    We finally got landline in 1993, no tone dial usable, no tone dial on new Siemens EWSD. ADSL availibility started in 2004 in my area.
    I HATE YOU Communists and Telefonica O2. I missed adventures like this one because of them.
  • pastor of muppets 2012-05-20 07:26
    TGV:
    flop:
    I would have expected something like the 500 mile email ...

    But well, we take what we get, right?

    That's a great one!

    Could have been worse. When I saw "statistics", I thought they might have just taken some sort of average of all the destinations that worked vs all the destinations that didn't.
  • PunchedCards 2012-05-21 04:14
    F15.5! No ES21.15! No F16.3! etc...

    Giggle. Youngsters of today...

    Both F16.3 and E21.15 are very broken in one particular way for input. Consider what happens if (for whatever reason) there's no decimal separator in the input field.

    (Note also that for input: F, E, D, F, ES, EN and G all do exactly the same thing, so if the input field does have a decimal separator, then you guys are just quibbling about the field width. Concerns about loss of precision when calling java's toString are certainly valid, but if you are trying to feed Fortran data edit descriptors to java's toString then you have more serious issues to deal with... )
  • Norman Diamond 2012-05-22 00:00
    PunchedCards:
    F15.5! No ES21.15! No F16.3! etc...
    Both F16.3 and E21.15 are very broken in one particular way for input.
    Yes, that's why I learned to "roll my own" for input. And if a user could type input interactively, I even had to "roll my own" for integers, so I could discard invalid input and let the user try again, instead of crashing when the library rejected the input.

    PunchedCards:
    Concerns about loss of precision when calling java's toString are certainly valid, but if you are trying to feed Fortran data edit descriptors to java's toString then you have more serious issues to deal with... )
    I suppose in my case the maker of the collision avoidance system might have been passing format strings in C syntax instead of Fortran syntax to the library that they were using, but I still had to persuade them to use a format with more than 3 digits of precision. When the spec called for me to conform to their 3 digits, the expected results were going to be pretty much useless.
  • Norman Diamond 2012-05-22 00:02
    ("instead of crashing when the library rejected the input" -- that was in Fortran II, which didn't have ERR=exceptioncatcher)
  • Mathew 2012-05-24 05:40
    Zylon:
    ExChickenFarmer:
    I'm the OP. Actually the computers were 8 Bit CP/M machines. They were custom built for our company (a WTF in itself). There were only 4 per plant so they just shared a dial-up phone line. It was very slow because with every screen it waited for the line to be free, dialed the mainframe, connected, submitted the request, received the data, and hung up.

    Cripes. Yet another case of Remy anonymizing stories almost to the point of being pure fiction.


    +1

    And he even manages to make the stories less entertaining. He's levelling us with his meta-wtf's. give the man some respect.