It was the early 70's and as I have commented in other articles, our Neuroscience Department had a 12-bit 32 Kilo Words computer, a punched tape reader and an extended typewriter to punch tapes.

In those days, computers were scarce, very scarce, and that meant that their use as such was in the hands of large ministries or large companies, but it was very rare for a small department to have one. The self-sacrificing work of the Department staff that prior to my entry into it and using many hours of machine time in overtime at the Central Institute for Digital Research caused it to grant them one, first with only 16 Kilo Words.

In order to make all the human and technical machinery associated with a computer work, the so-called "Calculation Centers" were created where there were tape and card punching machines, with their corresponding human operators, paper printers that printed directly from the cards or tapes, human operators of the computer as such, human programmers, systems analysts, data analysts, functional analysts, organic analysts, and other categories that we humans had created to be able to face any problem that they posed to us.

But all of the above also led to an extensive bureaucracy that gripped access to computers as such behind bars, which made it practically impossible for a programmer to work freely and directly with the computer for which he was programming. Bear in mind that the premises with equipment were air-conditioned, with dehumidifiers, dust controls, special floors and walls, "ad-hoc" clothes and shoes were used, and they were isolated from all other offices or "normal" workplaces.

When the computer "fell" in our department the situation was totally different, since despite having insulation, air conditioning, dehumidifiers and others, it was considered by everyone as a laboratory equipment that everyone could access and everyone could and should try to use for his work and therefore take advantage of it. Without obstacles, without bureaucracy, directly.

Then "an inspection falls to us from above" and they try to force us to create a "Computing Center Section" and a workforce that would respond to what they thought was the "correct" way to work, and not the way "wildly direct" with which we worked.

Discussions came and went, until the genius of our boss, Dr. Thalía Harmony, told me: "Octavio, if you are Section Chief of the Computing Center, wouldn't you charge a higher salary?" To which I answered yes, and then Thalía ended by saying: "So what are we waiting for, Welcome to the Calculus Center Section!"

And that's how I went from Programmer to Section Chief of the Computing Center. Calculation Center which by the way we never had in reality.

Octavio Báez Hidalgo.

No thoughts on “How I became Section Chief of the Computing Center.”

Leave your comment

In reply to Some User