Tuesday, December 28, 2021

The Old Old Days -- ca. 1968

As the olds do, I reminisce sometimes. Not often. Let me rewind the memory tapes a back to 1967 or '68.

(What a dumb metaphor for folks who have never used serial storage.)

This isn't -- directly -- about Python. But it may help folks who live at the edge of programming find a project that motivates them to learn to code.

This was my first exposure to an actual computer. I think it was an old IBM 650 that our high-school had. I wasn't in high school yet, but there was an open house, and they fired this thing up.

What was the demo program?

The thing was running a version of blackjack. 

It would clatter and type something like 

 J S
 9 C  7 D
>

And wait for your input. The first line was the dealer's card and your two cards. You could then enter your plan -- hit, stand, split, or double. Subsequent lines would play out your hand.

And yes, I recall much of the interaction to this day. (Not all the details. It was a long time ago.)

This shaped my understanding of "computing as simulation." 

It also caused me to become interested in random numbers and the idea of generating pseudo-random numbers with digital computers. I'll be posting some more thoughts on random numbers and -- I promise -- there will be Python code.