Anecdotes of how we have made systems and programs, their mistakes and things learned. Real facts and opinions. Algorithms and Problems. Tips and Tricks.
One of the most fantastic things about having a computer in our department in the 70's is that we could do with it what we wanted, literally, without having to go through all the bureaucracy created around the so-called "Calculation Centers", where weeks and even months passed between having an idea and getting a real program to implement it. In other words, we lived through the personal computer revolution years before it even existed.
In those years a young researcher, the current director of the Center for Neurosciences, Dr. Mitchell Valdés, was starting his career in the study of psychophysiological processes in humans and it occurred to him that using cats could have interesting results as basic research.
Well, he took on the task of developing a colony of cats. I remember he even put up posters in the cafeteria requesting information about possible homeless cats ...
The other part was his brilliant experimental designs, all of which could be automated, and we took on the task of doing it using the MEDICID-1 equipment and the Department's computer, since as I mentioned before we could input and output digital signals.
As an example of the equipment used, I can comment on the medium-sized led digits that were controlled bit by bit, that is, each led segment corresponded to a bit, and in this way we could present the cats with any visual pattern, not just numbers. and letters.
We had to program and also measure various times, such as the time between stimuli, the time the LEDs turned on, the reaction time if required, and other things.
So we took on the task of programming an interpreter for "time charts" such as those for digital electronics, which had several versions and allowed us to use the same program for various types of experiments. We could say that in theory we programmed a finite state machine without actually being this way since more freedom was required when defining an experiment.
Remember that the computer only had 32 Kilo Words of 12 bits and the languages we had at hand were not appropriate for this purpose, so we had to invent ad hoc procedures and many times not clearly defined or written. The practice was our "Theory of Truth."
Well, results were obtained at such a level that they were the ones that led Dr. Erwin to give a colony of monkeys to Dr. Mitchell Valdés, which I have told in another article.
Those were times when creativity prevailed over resources.
Octavio Báez Hidalgo.