It was 1974, and I’d dropped out of Kent State University, where I was a Theatre major. That wasn’t going to work, so I moved back with my parents and signed up for classes in Data Processing at Cuyahoga Community College. The college had a jobs board, and on the board was an after school part time position to help out at Dow Chemical in Parma Heights, Ohio. I contacted them, and was hired.
The job entailed two different departments, printing and data processing. Half of my time was spent in each, with heavy tech equipment in both. In the printing department I learned to operate the fastest copy/sort machine I’d ever seen, where we’d duplicate engineering documents and create up to 50 collated sets of documents, with a capacity of about 100 pages per copy. We’d make the copies, then bind them for the engineers, and they’d provide those in their proposal documents.
The other half of my time I spent taking card decks of mostly Fortran programs for the engineers, and using a terminal device of sorts to read the card decks and send them over leased line connections to the company mainframe computers in Houston, Texas. As I grew more proficient, the folks taught me to use and program the IBM 129 Keypunch machine to enter data and programs for the engineers who didn’t have time to do that work.
Once every other week I’d report to work at 3am to connect with the mainframe and receive the massive amounts of reports, printed on what’s known as “greenbar” paper, and then distribute them to the engineering teams.
It was a great start to a career that’s lasted almost 48 years now.