All Souls Day Thoughts

There is a long history of this special day, when
we should remember our departed friends

of course, consider our own situation.

We all embrace tradition, in its various forms,
because it means
giving a voice to our ancestors.

In the FOSS world, the same applies.
Old computers, and old software,
they are still with us
if not physically,
then their legacy is there
as components of modern systems.

Everything is built on past achievements
and in that sense,
everything is still with us,
our whole software history,
and our departed friends.


Long live COBOL.

Indeed, I like my Fortran. Revisit it occasionally.
Someone once said
“You can write Fortran in any language”

Always loved turbo Pascal from borland for my programming easy to teach to students

The 1 November is a national holiday in France and for the last week all the shops were selling Chrysanthemums flowers as a mark of remembrance


Wirth designed Pascal as a teaching language.
I used Pascal before I moved to C. Pascal is a good intro to C.

Crysanthemums are not in season now in Australia. We lack those sort of traditions. People have called Australia a cultural desert. That may have been so 100 years ago, but today we are a diverse multicultural mixture.


I did have a copy of his ( Niklaus Wirth ) original book translated into English but lost in the passage of time. Seam to remember the turbo Pascal was around 100 UK pounds to buy for class room use for all students.

Taught that to exam levels before COBOL or C to give the idea of structures, file handling and error checking.

What about a mention to Michael Jackson (not the singer) who wrote structured programming methodologies.

It’s funny to think about different seasons in each part of the world when you have summer we have winter and the reverse.

France has so many holidays that I cannot keep track of remember which it is, 1 may, 8 may, 1 November, 11 November to name but a few. Plus saints days where people celebrate the day of their name as well as there birthdays.


We only have Christmas and Easter , no saints day holidays.
Have Kings birthday, Australia day, Labor day and Anzac day which are all secular.

Christmas in the Summer heat, Easter in the Autumn, it does not fit in with the mood of the season at all.


Guess you get used to it depends where you were born and spent most of your life. So school holidays do you get 6 weeks as in the UK and is it over summer (Christmas) when does the school term begin and end for exams etc.

France being so big gives each region a different holiday for Easter, October, spring etc mainly to make sure there are destinations available in France, but again not sure when our are each year they change. Only effects me when I want the public pool as the hours change of opening. In our complex the 2 pools close over winter as they are outside and cost to heat.

Its like UK. school begins February and ends mid December.
Three terms with short breaks in between, then long break over Christmas. University is the same.
January is traditional holiday period… lots of businesses close down for January. it is too hot for outdoor work in many places so stuff like the building industry just stop.

I learned Pascal on cards in my first Computer Science class.

I used Pascal before I moved to C. Pascal is a good intro to C.

When I later learned COBOL the teacher said you would be better off not knowing any previous language like Basic, C, or Pascal. I can sort of agree. The syntax and organization of the divisions is completely different than anything else.

It was helpful to have that logically before no matter the language.


It’s now 4 terms, there’s fortnight school holidays around Easter time, then again in June, then another fortnight in September / October… When it was three terms, there was May School Holidays, and August School Holidays, that’s what we called them anyway… So all up - kids spend less time at school than I did…

In WA, the school year starts in late January

… I remember when I moved back to Perth with my parents and siblings in 1979, starting at yet another new high school (I’d actually been there in 1975 - but a 3+ year “break” might as well be a new school) and heading to the bus stop about 8:00 a.m. and temperature was already 35 celsius - I HATED PERTH at that time!

I learned Pascal when I was at Uni - I think I did three units worth of it - somewhat enjoyed it - started out just using the MS-DOS version that I’d copied onto floppies at my work - but ended up buying Borland Turbo Pascal for Windows with a tax refund (and claimed it as an expense on tax the following year anyway) - it included the DOS version.

In can still remember the top include statements in my code :
uses crt;
uses wincrt;

(mainly just so you could clear the screen of output - but could also be used for X / Y placement of output and other stuff)

The main dialup application (e.g. to BBS) I used back in those days, “Telex” I think it was called, had both DOS and Windows versions, was completely written in Turbo Pascal…


I think my first efforts with Pascal were on a screen with vi
driven by a mini computer running BSD.
There were some serious scientific packages written in Pascal, including an entire image processing system.


The computer was a DEC VAX PDP-11 I believe.

This was at Iowa State University. The home of the first electronic digital computer.

History of Computing – Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.


Was it running BSD or VMS?
I remember VMS on VAX… an unbelievable jumble of commands with no consistent pattern to help the user and no overall philosophy to hold it together. The editor was painful.^

I collaborated with a statistician guy at Iowa State.

1 Like

And the head guy on the VMS development team went on to Microsoft and headed the NT team there - so hardly surprising (but even so - I preferred Windows NT to Windows 95)…

and update : isn’t, or wasn’t VMS “POSIX compliant” - I remember you could run X and even CDE on it anyway… And DEC’s “successor” to VMS, OSF / Digital UNIX / Tru64 wasn’t a terrible UNIX either… But Tru64 is well dead and extinct, I believe there are still legacy systems out there running on VMS (or an emulated VMS).
I only drove it a few times - and that was via telnet and a “curses” (or something like it) based TTY interface…

1 Like

My first mainframe was an IBM 360/30 with 32K of memory. It was running mostly Cobol programs and some programs (which had not been converted) in 1401 emulation mode.

1 Like

Used one of those as a postgrad. Fortran IV and JCL.
Do you remember having to allocate disk space in advance, in tracks and cylinders, before you ran your program?
Did you get into PL/1. ? That could have been a bigger advance than it turned out… it had all the structured programming ideas.

What we have today is built on the best of all these old efforts.

It was VMS I believe. Stats was not my strongest class.

1 Like

My first job writing COBOL was for insurance. The company had a 4341 for sure and another that I think was a 4381 maybe. The 4341 was running DOS-VSE. The 4381 was running OS. We had TSO running on the 4381. Some of our customers ran DOS and others ran OS. So we had to run both.

1 Like

Oh, Yes! A long story, but if you remember IBM JCL, you might find the story interesting.

I started as a Cobol programmer trainee in a very small shop of only 4 programmers, of which one was me and another one the supervisor. We coded our own JCL and perform the testing of our own programs. ie: We were the computer operator.

I was new and I was given a location for my test file on disk pack WS03. In JCL, if I remember correctly, the first time you wrote to the disk file you coded “Disp=new”. After the first time you wrote to the file, you then coded your JCl “Disp=shr”

Like I said earlier, we operator the computer when we tested our programs. I walk into the computer room, mount the disk pack WS03 and tested my program for the first time creating the new file.

Later that day, the regular computer operator start the billing process that used 9 disk packs label WS01 thru WS09. When the program got to disk pack WS03 the operating system reported an I/O error that could not be by passed and the billing program abended.

Having the billing process abending cause a big stir in the office and the programmers (including me) came into the computer room. I mention that I had used WS03 that afternoon.

WHAT!! Why did you do that! I replied I was told by my supervisor to use WS03.

Well, the billing disks were label in “Blue” WS01 thru WS09. The disk pack I was suppose to use was coded in “Green” WS03. I was not told to use the “Green” labeled disk pack so neither I nor the supervisor got into trouble.

What was surprising was that in JCL, you could also code “Expire=99/365” for your file. If the operating system try to write over an area coded with “99/365” the operator would get a warning and he then could let the program proceed or cancel the option that was trying to write over the protected area.

The billing file did not have “Expire” coded, so there was no protection for the billing file. I got no warning that I was about to write into an area that contained the billing master file. The JCL for the billing process was soon changed to include “Expire=99/365”.